The Palm Treo 800w and SQL Server – another pleasant surprise

OK, so last time we discussed SQL Server 2008 Compact Edition, I was hoping there would be some miracle of technology that would allow me to buy an iPhone and run SQL Server on it using HTTP replication and that great WiFi feature. Oh well. Back to reality. SQL Server 2008 Compact Edition aka version 3.5 SP1 requires Windows Mobile and that is that. Even though you are replicating through the internet. So my next choice was the Palm Treo 800w running Windows Mobile V6.1 and what a pleasant surprise this was too. (see my positive experience with the SQL Server 2008 upgrade in my previous blog entry...).

After taking forever in the Sprint store to get the new Treo started (it always needs a well-charged battery and you need Windows Activation before you can get started), the new Today front page looks well organized and attractive. The new Treo is much lighter and compact  than its predecessors. It also excels in almost every area from memory to CPU speed, from GPS to WiFi. Very cool indeed. Maybe not the ease of use of the Apple device but still...

Even though Microsoft officially supports SQL Server CE 3.5 SP1 with Windows Mobile V6.0, I was able to test it out using V6.1, no problem. The new UI features of V6.1 are definitely worth the risk and I haven't found any incompatibilities yet. It's just that Microsoft have not had time to do a full test using SQL Server 2008, I am sure. Yes, I was able to install SQL Server on my new Smartphone! How cool is that? I did this by using the CAB files that are installed after the free Microsoft download to my laptop and synchronized using ActiveSync. I was then able to connect to my Treo database server using SQL Server Management Studio 2008 with a Compact Edition connection. You can then set up a Merge Publication on the main server, configure Web Synchronization, create a Subscription on the Smartphone and start replicating through HTTP either with WiFi or 3G speed. Your Data, Any Place, Any Time. That was my proof-of-concept. If I can do it, you can too. For mobile applications that require an embedded database during occasionally-connected scenarios, this is a good solution.

I also tested out Windows Mobile RDP V6 for Remote Desktop Connection from the Treo device. This worked great for connecting to my servers directly from the phone. I was able to download the CAB file from directly to the Treo via Internet Explorer and install without the use of my laptop at all. My best download speed was close to 1Mbps as measured through Both my WiFi and 3G connections at home seemed to give similar speeds. I hooked up ActiveSync for Outlook but I think using POP3 directly for email is a better bet. ActiveSync pays off for syncing the Calendar and Contacts, not so much for email anymore since we have the choice of WiFi or 3G wherever we go. The Qwerty keyboard is one area where the Treo clearly excels over the iPhone.

And of course, my final test was installing Slingbox Mobile so I could watch Dr Who and Soccer on my phone and use my DVR remotely. Of course, it worked like a charm. The only problem was that Dr Who was a rerun from the seventies (remember the Doctor with the rainbow scarf?) and my favorite team lost. But apart from that, it was a good test all round.



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