I used a Treo 650 as a PDA and cell phone for two years, spendthriftily never ponying up for the data plan. My Treo 680 arrived a mere two days ago, this time with data service, and already I can't believe I went so long without. I'm an old hand at typing schedules and to-dos into the Palm, so it's not hard to guess what happened when I found myself on a bus to Boston yesterday afternoon. That's right: I wrote and sent an entire honest-to-goodness personal email message, using only my well-trained thumbs and my new phone. It took 15 minutes to write only because it was a long message. A full computer keyboard would have shaved off a few minutes at most.

On Day 1 I loaded the 680 up with email, SSH, VNC, and Google Maps. Today's Day 2, and I've found another trick for this new pony. When I tire of thumbing through emails, I can use the Treo as a modem and go online with my PowerBook. I followed these instructions for my Cingular-branded Treo. In short:

  1. Enable Bluetooth on PowerBook and Treo.
  2. Pair the devices. The PowerBook should see that one of the available services on the Treo is “Access the Internet.”
  3. Create a suitable modem script using the script generator linked from the instructions, then drop it in /Library/Modem Scripts.
  4. In System Preferences -> Network, configure the Bluetooth modem with the username, password, and “GPRS CID” given in the instructions. Under PPP Options disable “Send PPP echo packets” and “Use TCP header compression.” Under Bluetooth Modem disable “Enable error correction and compression in modem” and “Wait for dial tone before dialing”, and select the custom modem script.
  5. Launch Internet Connect, switch to the Bluetooth tab, and click Connect.

If I'm somewhere with free WiFi, it's usually faster and more reliable. But if I'm somewhere with for-pay WiFi (Starbucks, airports, etc.), or none at all, I don't have to pay: I can get online anywhere there's phone service, with or without my laptop.

The Treo is Cingular-branded, but the first thing I did when it arrived was to unlock it, because I want to be able to make cheap local calls with pre-paid SIM cards when traveling abroad. 680unlock.com provides a code immediately, so I chose them over less interactive vendors. If my code actually worked (I'll know as soon as I can borrow someone else's SIM) then I'm a very happy customer.