Better Than Nothing

I’ve often said that it’s embarassing how poorly the cellular carriers have managed to integrate their devices, considering the ironclad control they maintain over their services. That’s still the case, but Palm’s new Treo 700W will make at least a tiny baby step in the right direction:

This image, from David Pogue’s 10 Greatest Gadget Ideas, shows the Treo’s VCR-like voicemail controls: tap play to begin, or the trash can to delete, etc. The Treo then plays the corresponding touchtone.

It’s a simple but effective solution given the limitations of current voicemail systems. I commend Palm for doing their best (though I think they would be wise to follow Blackberry’s lead in finding a way to do it without a stylus.)

That said, the fact that this made a “10 best” list is a real testament to how crap the hardware out there is. Note the screen says simply “Voicemail”, with a timer for the entire call — that’s because there’s no way to show the caller’s number, the duration of the current message, the number of messages left, the date, or anything else you might want to know.

All of this could be built in using even the existing network (with SMS, for example) but in a world where you have to sign a two year contract to even get a number, nobody has the incentive to do it.

Hit Me With It