SonyEricsson P910aAnybody who knows me knows that when I have a new toy, it sucks up all my attention like some kind of black hole. On Thursday I got a new mobile phone, a SonyEricsson P910a, which is part phone, part PDA, and all cool.

There is much that I have loved over the years about my PDA, the venerable Tungsten T. Unfortunately, the lame SOBs at PalmOne (nee Palm) have made it increasingly difficult to stand by my old stand-by. It seems that customer service and support have gone the way of the Dodo at PalmOne, and judging by the numbers of colleagues who have sworn off ever buying another Palm device, PalmOne itself is probably well on its way to extinction. As best I can tell, they exist these days primarily to license their operating system to the folks at Handspring… who actually know how to serve customers.

In 2002, I was looking for a replacement for my Kyocera QCP6035, which was a Palm-powered PDA and phone, all-in-one. There was much that I liked about the Kyocera: despite its ungainly size and frequent OS crashes (necessitating almost daily reboots), it was a comfortable phone to use, the sound quality (both incoming and outgoing) was excellent, and the overall features were nice. Unfortunately, the size of the phone was its undoing for me: it hung off my belt in an awkward fashion and when I tried to sit down, if I didn’t adjust it properly, my leg would cause it to fly off the beltclip, casuing it to clatter on the floor. One too many times, as it turns out.

Then one day, my friend, colleague, and technology beta-tester, Michael Miora, showed me his spiffy new set-up: a Tungsten T and a Sony Ericsson T68i phone. The T68i is about the size of a box of TicTacs, and had full GSM/GPRS capabilities, including the ability to connect via Bluetooth to the Tungsten. That gave the Tungsten the ability to fetch email, websurf, etc. And with Bluetooth, I could also leave the phone in my briefcase and still access the internet or answer the phone using a wireless headset. (In fact, next to the TiVo, my Bluetooth headset is one of the most life-changing technologies in my workaday existence.) Seeing how it worked for Michael, I was sold.

I had a Tungsten/T68i combo for more almost 2 years, but then I decided I wanted to upgrade my phone to the beautiful new SonyEricsson Z600. And that was where my problems with Palm began. Maybe I was naive, but I just assumed that buying a mass-produced, Bluetooth-compliant, globally available phone from a major manufacturer, I’d have little problem getting my Palm to work with it. Boy, was I wrong!

Little did I know, Palm is apparently persnickity about which Bluetooth-enabled phones can make data connections to it. If they don’t create a connection script specifically for your model of phone, you are S.O.L. Apparently the contents of those scripts are also as carefully guarded as the recipe for Coca-Cola, because I couldn’t find anybody across the internet who could tell me how to concoct my own.

Thus began the decline in my usage of my Palm, and my growing contempt for their company. Try as I might, over the course of the next year, I couldn’t get any assistance from Palm. Unfortunately my carrier (the carrier formerly known as AT&T Wireless) was useless in this endeavor. The Z600 wasn’t among the paltry selection of interesting phones that AT&T carried and supported, so I’d had to order the Z600 from another reseller. Of course, being a standards-compliant GSM phone, my Z600 worked on their network, but I was on my own to get any of the gewgaws working.

Meanwhile, every effort to enlist the aid of Palm in solving my problems was met with the kind of abject cluelessness usually reserved for when you ask the Jack In The Box drive-thru guy for assistance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

To make a long story short, while Palm eventually made scripts for about five of the eight or nine SonyEricsson Bluetooth-enabled phones, I never was able to get one that worked for the Z600 and Tungsten T combo. Meanwhile, as Palm moved on to making newer and fancier PDAs, the Tungsten T has been relegated to the “previous models” page, and already lack-luster support is dwindling further.

Meanwhile, I’m loving my P910a so far and will write more about it later.