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Announcing the Smartphone Round Robin!

(Instead of giving you a roundup of last week's news, today I'm excited to give you a glimpse into the news you're going to see at our Smartphone Experts sites over the next two months! -- Dieter)

We are pleased to announce the Smartphone Round Robin!. Each year the editors of the Smartphone Experts family of sites literally trade their phones to see what life is like on the "other side." What you're going to see over the course of the next two months is each of our five SPE Community Editors reviewing smartphones that they're not used to using. Each editor has a checklist of "Must-Dos" that ensure they're getting the full experience with each smartphone. It's quite a ride.

Read on for more on the Smartphone Round Robin and for details on how you can win one of five Smartphone Prize Packs!

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Down the Rabbit-Hole: From Treo to iPhone

I can hardly remember my life before having a PDA. I held a Palm Pilot for the first time in 1996, a Pilot 1000 my father received at work. He was somewhat non-plussed; technology was not his gig and he deferred to me for most things with a power button. For me, the Palm Pilot was something revolutionary and Graffiti input was mind-blowing.

The addiction and PDA-dependence grew from there for me. I was "plugged in" and my vocabulary would now include words and acronyms like "stylus", "PIM" and "SD Card". As other platforms emerged, like Pocket PC and Symbian, I remained doggedly loyal to the Palm OS through it's progression of versions. I watched Palm OS become Garnet and then "FrankenGarnet." I even got used to seeing "Powered by Access" when I fired up my trusty Palm. I made the leap from PDA to a converged device with the Treo 650, then the 680. Throughout the years I endured the criticisms of Palm's lack of multitasking, multithreading, no wifi (!?!) and antiquated PIM. I remained a Palm loyalist and apologist, looking toward the horizon for a Cobalt or Palm OS 2 that would never come.

More on my migration to the iPhone after the break!

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iPhone vs Blackberry

Yankees vs Red Sox. Coke vs Pepsi. Obama vs Hilary.

Apple vs RIM?

Are we walking down a path that will lead to a no-holds-barred smackdown between smartphone giant RIM and newcomer Apple? Chris Ullrich over at TUAW certainly thinks so. He recently pitted the iPhone against the Curve and comes away with a conclusion not so much different from our good friend Mike Overbo.

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Round Robin: Palm OS, The King is Dead

After a week of using the Treo 680, I have to say that it's pretty much the same as I remember it. I used the 680 as my primary phone for about half a year, and I've reviewed it twice already. I won't claim to be the most knowledgeable 680 user out there; that honor would certainly be bestowed to many, many users in our forum before I would even enter consideration for it. I've had a lot to say about Palm OS, generally favorable I suppose, but there are caveats. I've said as much in the TreoCentral TreoCast, but I've never had an opportunity like this one to really distill thirty podcasts and a few dozen hours of listening into a manifesto of what's good and what's bad about Palm OS, and what I really think about their Linux venture, and why Palm is on their current path.

When I say the King is dead, I don't mean that the 680 is a bad device, or that there's no reason to use Palm OS, or that anyone that uses it is dumb. Far from it, I think the 680 is pretty high up on my list. It's still a good phone. If I thought Palm OS was dumb or not relevant, I wouldn't do the TreoCentral TreoCast. It boils down to two things with Palm OS: the hardware and the software. The hardware will see updates. There will probably be more Palm OS GSM phones to come out. Better cameras, 3G, smaller form factors, the whole shebang. When it comes out, it will probably be a compelling upgrade for Palm OS users. But I don't think we'll see a significant software update for Palm OS in the next two years. While some may accuse that it's unfair to say "the king is dead" alluding to Palm OS, it's not accurate to say the king is alive, either. But still, there are always these persistent rumors about faked deaths and random sightings...

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Round Robin: Windows Mobile Fond Farewell

Of all the smartphones we test during the Smartphone Round Robin, the constraints of our phone exchange is felt most with the Windows Mobile 6 AT&T Tilt. One week is just not enough to get a full grasp on what Windows Mobile can do. If you've read some of my other reviews, you'll hopefully recognize that as a compliment-dig.

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Round Robin: AT&T Tilt

For the past few days, I've been working with the AT&T Tilt, a Windows Mobile smartphone. I've used Windows Mobile before, so this isn't quite the new experience that the BlackBerry Curve was, but I haven't used the latest version of Windows Mobile (version 6) either. I used WM5 with a Treo 750 for a while, but I ended up dealing with a bad bug that prevented calls from ringing. That was pretty much a killer for the device, and I stopped using it.

And that would be the end of the story, but for the Smartphone Round Robin. And here we are again.

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Round Robin: Adios, BlackBerry Curve

So, my time with the Curve has come to a close. It's a dirty little secret of the Smartphone Round Robin, but I'm glad that I got to use the iPhone again for a day. I airlifted the 8310 Curve off to Jennifer of TreoCentral, and Kevin is shipped me the Windows Mobile-based AT&T Tilt. I got to keep my SIM card firmly seated in the iPhone for a full day!

It's been an interesting week with the Curve, but the limitations of it started to wear pretty thin on me as the week progressed. Once the newness of the curve wore off, I started eyeing my iPhone a lot more. I've been looking forward to shipping the Curve off so I could use my iPhone. Looking to the future, I began -- shudder to think -- looking forward to the Tilt. But there are some strong redemptive features to the platform.

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Round Robin: BlackBerry Curve

The BlackBerry Curve (8310)

For the first week of Smartphone Experts' Smartphone Round Robin, I was assigned the BlackBerry Curve 8310. As I've indicated in the Crackberry forums, I've said some nasty things about BB in the past. Some of that is going to have to be put behind me this week; this BlackBerry 8810 isn't going to use itself.

And don't forget - a comment on this post counts as an entry in the Round Robin Contest!

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Smartphone Round Robin

We are now launching the cool project we were hinting at in the last podcast: the Smartphone Round Robin. For the next 2 or three weeks, all of the editors of the various Smartphone Experts sites will be using one of the "other" smartphones out there.

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