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Summary:

Recently, I was fortunate enough to get a Cingular-branded Treo 650 for my birthday. This was an upgrade from my Treo 270, and included a number of new features including Bluetooth and an SD slot for PalmOne peripherals and SD memory cards. Since I’m a geek, […]

Recently, I was fortunate enough to get a Cingular-branded Treo 650 for my birthday. This was an upgrade from my Treo 270, and included a number of new features including Bluetooth and an SD slot for PalmOne peripherals and SD memory cards. Since I’m a geek, the first question I had was “Can I get email on it?”

The answer is yes, and fairly easily. Cingular offers a number of data plans that would let you download a set amount of data for so much a month. However, the first question I had for myself was “Do I really want to pay twenty to thirty bucks a month extra for my data plan? Also, do I want to pay if I go over?” Cingular does offer an unlimited download plan, but I didn’t want to pay eighty dollars extra a month for the privilege of saving myself from overage charges. In that case, what other options did I have?

Two options were fairly obvious to me: use WiFi or Bluetooth.

WiFi can be enabled on the Treo 650, courtesy of Shadowmite over at TreoCentral. Essentially, Shadowmite wrote a patch to the Treo 650′s ROM to allow it to use the Tungsten T5′s WiFi drivers. The downside to this approach is that, if you mess up, you could hose your Treo. Also, the WiFi card is $130. Based on the risk factor and the fact that I didn’t want to spend $130, I chose to pursue my other option: Bluetooth. If anyone reading this has managed to get WiFi working on their Treo, please let me know in the comments how well it’s working for you .

Since I’d ruled out WiFi and paying Cingular lots of money, that left Bluetooth. In my innocence, I’d thought this would be relatively simple, like enabling Internet Sharing to run out over Bluetooth. That turned out not to be the case. The relevant issue was that the Treo 650, because it’s using the Palm OS, doesn’t really like to have background processes running. It can do it, but doesn’t like it. (As a side note, for Treo users of Salling Clicker, that means that your Treo 650 will not be able to do the phone events or proximity events with Salling Clicker that other Bluetooth-equipped phones can do. Any Salling Clicker function that has the Salling Clicker program open and running on your Treo work great, so Salling Clicker is still a great tool for your Treo and I’ve had a lot of fun with it.) Since internet connectiviy generally runs in the background, I needed to do it in a way that made Palm OS 5.4.5 happy with it.

Since I was planning on having a Mac serving as an always-on Bluetooth base station, I set up my fiancee’s older 333MHz G3 iMac with 192 megs of RAM and installed Mac OS X 10.3.8 on it. For my Bluetooth connection, I added this CompUSA-branded Bluetooth USB adapter since it boasted a 150 meter range and I wanted to be able to be able to connect from anywhere in or around my house. All work that I’m describing was tried on that machine.

Once I had my iMac set up and recognizing the plug-and-play Bluetooth adapter, I started looking on VersionTracker, to see if anyone had written a program to do what I was asking. Searching on “bluetooth internet”, I found two freeware programs that said they would do what I needed. I tried both of them, with varying degrees of success.

The first one I tried was Bluetooth to Internet Utility. The key problem here seemed to be that I needed my Treo to be able to make a PPP connection, and I couldn’t see a way to do that. Attempting to configure my Treo to connect to a PC over Bluetooth, then designating my Bluetooth iMac as the PC in question, also didn’t work. The program looked like it was running fine on my Mac, I just couldn’t get my Treo to connect to it.

The next one I tried was Share2Blue2th 3.1, which worked to a point. I could set it up easily, and it would let my Treo connect to it by letting me configure my Treo to connect to a PC over Bluetooth, then designating my Bluetooth iMac as the PC in question. But, as soon as I made a connection, the program instantly crashed and took the connection with it.

Discouraged, I starting Googling to see if anyone else had earlier tried the same thing that I was attempting to do. Most entries pointed me back towards the two programs that I had already tried, or described sharing a Mac to Mac bluetooth connection. Then I saw this entry on Bruce McKenzie’s Bioneural blog. At first glance, it was showing me how to set up the same PPP setup that Bluetooth to Internet Utility used, and I had failed with. But down at the bottom, I noticed this note:

Update 07.08.04:

There is now a much, much easier way to share your Mac’s Internet connection to your Palm, via Bluetooth or USB. See here.

So I went there and found my answer: The Missing Sync for Palm OS 4.0.3, now with internet sharing over your USB sync cable or Bluetooth. I bought and installed Missing Sync on my Bluetooth iMac, re-paired my Treo with the iMac to make sure there weren’t any encryption problems, made sure that my Treo’s settings matched the walkthrough that Mark/Space thoughtfully provided, and turned on internet sharing. Then, I went back to my Treo, opened VersaMail and hit the “Get” button to download my email from my .Mac account. Worked flawlessly the very first time. It has also worked flawlessly up to the thirtieth time, so I’m willing to rely on the trend continuing. It also works for Blazer, the Treo’s web browser. Another nice thing with Missing Sync is that you can install it on two machines, so I also installed it on my PowerBook and take the Bluetooth sharing with me to work. My PowerBook, with its built-in Bluetooth, doesn’t have the 150 meter range that my home Bluetooth iMac has, but then I generally don’t need it to.

To sum up, of all the options I found out there to get internet connectivity onto my Treo, using Bluetooth proved overall to be the most inexpensive way to do it. For Bluetooth internet sharing, using The Missing Sync for Palm OS 4.x, while not free, was the most pain-free way to do it.

  1. You can get unlimited data from Cingular for $25 a month. I think they call it the MediaNet plan

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  2. That’s true, but it’s more limited than their regular data plans (see their FAQ.) The Treo 650 is also not listed as one of the supported phones.

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  3. I have the Wireless Internet Express plan for 19.95/mo and use it with my Nokia 9300 (yeah. I’m writing this from the 9300). This gives you unlimted IP access (HTTP,POP.IMAP, etc) over GPRS or better yet EDGE (as with the 650 & 9300/9500′s). I average downloads at about 75-100 kbs over EDGE.

    Disregard the Cingular FAQ. No offense, but it’s outdated and for dummies. Cingular needs to rework their pricing plans – I believe the $40 data plan was available when Wireless Internet Express was by the MB only.

    There is a whole bunch of discussion on http://www.treonauts.com regarding the Cingular data plans. Get WIX unlimted and enjoy EDGE just about everywhere.

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  4. If their anything like this available for windows machines?

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  5. Rich Trouton Friday, May 27, 2005

    Fred,

    You’ll want to check out this page for more information on making Bluetooth internet sharing work on Windows: http://www.whizoo.com/bt_setup/

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  6. I’ve followed a shorter path to use Missing Sync, and while it works for my Cingular Treo 650 for the most part, Blazer refuses to use anything but the phone for its connection. If I try and use Blazer with the phone off, it continually asks me to turn the phone on to connect, even though there’s an active connection set up through Missing Sync. Has anyone run into this and/or found a way around it?

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  7. Blazer doesn’t work with the phone off, but if your Network settings (found in the Preferences on your Treo) are set to use Bluetooth internet sharing for your internet connection, your phone isn’t used for the connection. So, even though the phone is on, Blazer is not using it to connect to the internet. The main way to tell is to watch for small green arrows to show up next to your signal indicator. If the green arrows are there, it’s using your phone for the connection. If they aren’t there, Blazer’s using another source (i.e. Bluetooth via Missing Sync’s internet sharing) for its internet connection.

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  8. So did you ever subscribe to a data package? I had the “unlimited media works” plan with Cingular which is really unlimited mms and sms and 5mb a month of internet access. The same guy who sold my phone to me gave me that option. I called yesterday and asked that he switch my options to the medianet package unlimited – the $19.99 a month package that gives you unlimited internet access. It is supposedly the same as the $39.99 PDAnet package Cingular markets to Treo owners. Honestly, the reason I changed plans is because I’m afraid I’ll go over the 5mb on email and I haven’t experimented at all with any of the other Treo internet apps and programs for fear of having a huge bill. Anyhow, he said that he would do it, I should wait about an hour, turn my phone off then back on and it would be set up.

    I waited a few hours, turned off my phone, turned it back on, and tried to download my email from my mac.com account, which I’d done numerous times with the Treo on the mediaworks plan. It went through the same process it normally does, but after hitting the signing on screen, it says “Canceling” then shows a red X and tells me that it is “Unable to Establish PPP Connection.” Additionally, it won’t let me access internet pages or send and receive SMS/MMS.

    I’ve turned the phone on and off many times, done multiple layers of resets (all but the one that erases all my data on the phone, mainly because I don’t want to lose my pictures). That said, since starting this post I used the Missing Sync to share bluetooth internet access with my phone and have emailed myself all my pictures, so I guess I can to a hard complete reset, but am still afraid to lose all my info and don’t want to have to go through the pain of setting everything up once again.

    If you’ve figured out anything I’d love to know.

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  9. Rich – thanks for the information. I tried using Blazer with Bluetooth internet sharing and the phone turned off. It seems to be working, and not charing the data to my bill, although its disconcerting that the phone has to be turned on.

    khalil – I don’t know how accurate my information is, but when I got my Treo 650 they wouldn’t let, or didn’t want, me get the mediaNet package since they classify the 650 as a phone. It looks like it might not include general internet access, just access to the mediaNet resources.

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  10. Rich Trouton Tuesday, July 12, 2005

    khalil,

    I did wind up subscribing to Cingular’s $19.99/month Media Net Unlimited data plan and it works great on my Treo. I didn’t switch from the MediaWorks plan before getting this activated, so I don’t know if your problem is related to your recent changeover from that or not. I can report that mine works great, and I’ve used the instructions that Trevor Harmon so graciously posted on his site (http://vocaro.com/trevor/treo-dun/) to set up my Mac to be able to use my Treo’s GPRS connection as a wireless modem.

    My best advice would be to check to make sure that your Network preferences on your Treo are set up as follows:

    Service: Cingular GPRS
    Connection: GPRS
    User Name: WAP@CINGULARGPRS.COM
    Password: CINGULAR1
    APN: wap.cingular

    If it’s not set up like that, make a copy of your existing Network settings and set them up like that. I believe all settings are case-sensitive.

    If rebuilding your network prefs doesn’t work, give Cingular a yell as they may have not set up your account right.

    As a last resort, back everything on your Treo up, then do a hard reset. Before restoring everything back, give connecting a try. If it’s still not working after that, give Cingular another call as something’s wrong and it’s probably not on your Treo.

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