Please note: The Velo series has been discontinued, and in fact, Philips has pulled out of Windows CE all together (their mistake). I no longer own a Velo 1 or Velo 500, so I don't have the CD-ROM with the updated 2.0 software, I don't have a ROM chip to sell anyone (check ebay), and I can't provide support for the devices in any capacity. I'll leave this site up as a resource for everyone, but I am unable to answer support questions on specific Velo issues. Please check the Windows CE Newsgroup FAQ for more general Q&A's.
My Velo 500? A much
Philips sent me a Velo 500, and even though it's similar to the Velo 1, I was very excited to get it all going. Perhaps the most enjoyable element of the Velo 500 is that it's simply a faster, more useful, less dysfunctional version of the Velo 1. There are no REVOLUTIONARY advances here - just well thought out EVOLUTIONARY advances that make it a delight to use.
After having it for five months now, I still love it. One little thing has gone wrong with it though - the clasp on the front doesn't catch on a consistant basis due to a little bit of horizontal play on the hinge. I consider this to be quite normal considering I use this thing so much - and it certainly doesn't affect the functionality of the unit.
Microsoft has recently lent me the use of an NEC MobilePro 750C and an Everex FreeStyle PSCP, and I have to be honest here...I'm carrying the Everex with me more and more. I was a bit negative on the PSPC concept for a while, until I began using the FreeStyle and realized data entry wasn't quite as difficult as I had imagined. I'm not in situations on a daily basis where I need lengthly data input any longer, so the size of the Everex is very appealing to me. I'm looking forward to Wyvern with great anticipation (Wyvern is the code-name for the 2nd generation PSCP units, and is rumoured to be much smaller and in colour!)
I'll let you know about any issues that occur with it, and I'll be adding Velo 500-specific Q&A's to my FAQ.
My Velo 1? Well, well.
Here's the story!
Grab your popcorn, put the kids in bed, and protect your loved ones. It's a horror story, but it does have a happy ending...sort of.
I purchased my first Velo 1 in April of 1997. Paid $1250 Canadian for it, but I had been waiting for it to be released since December 1996 (when other HPCs first appeared). By all accounts it was the best HPC around, and I've always been one to read reviews before I make a decision. The fact that Philips didn't make it available through retail channels in Canada for about 10 months didn't help. That's the first time I've spent $1250 without seeing what I was getting!
When I first go it, I was floored. What an amazing piece of hardware and software! After years of using the $200 Casio and Sharp units (and then losing my data), I was happy to move up to something that was a TRUE PC COMPANION. The anemic DOS and Win 3.1 synchronization clients of the non-CE units didn't appeal to me.
I was in love with my Velo 1! It quickly became my most useful computer tool. I used it constantly to track appointments, contacts, and most importantly, to make my hectic life a bit easier to handle. Though it may sound trite to say so, I actually noticed a difference - I found it much easier to keep up with things.
Velo 1 #1 started to give me problems after two weeks. I would turn it on, and it would come out of the sleep mode as if it was doing a soft reset. This would, of course, make me lose whatever was open before it shut OFF. Also, the voice recorder didn't work, because the button doesn't work when the unit is off (although there isn't technically a way to turn the Velo "off" - mine seemed to be special.) I put up with it for a few weeks, and on day 34 of owning my Velo, I called the Velo tech support line. At that time, all they could do was have me send it back because they didn't have a cross-shipping method set up yet. This wasn't acceptable, since my whole LIFE was now in my Velo 1. I called PC ZONE and requested a return, stating that I already had an RMA number from Philips. They said that since I was 4 days over my 30 day return period, they wouldn't do anything. I called back and asked to speak to a manager - they cross-shipped that day, and I was back in business (minus $50 CND for shipping)
Velo #2 started doing the same thing as before - only this time I called Philips right away and asked what the hell was going on. They hadn't heard of the problem before, but that it might be related to the power supply (batteries). A helpful Velo tech sent me a new NiMH battery and Lithium Ion backup batter. This solved the problem! I was quite happy, until about three weeks later. I was opening the Velo 1, and the hinge made a loud creaking/snapping sound. All of a sudden, the hinge had about 1.5-2 inches of give. Flop flop. Doing a bit of research, I wasn't alone with this problem. In fact, to read ALL about it (the blunt truth) here's an "expose" I'm hosting on my site for the first time ANYWHERE (but I didn't write it). I called Philips, they acknowledged it was a problem, but they still weren't set up to cross ship. So I called PC ZONE again and they cross-shipped, for another $50 CND.
About this time, Philips took notice of me and their Product Marketing Manager of Web Solutions contacted me. I was quite impressed that they would take notice of little old me. Over the next few months, Philips linked to this FAQ, and I was sent a few product samples to include in my FAQ (DRAM and FLASH cards, V-module, etc.) The down side was that I had to pay $110 CND in duty because it wasn't clear that they were product samples. Although I've been promised a refund, it hasn't happened yet (my contact is quite busy though - I'm patient).
Velo #3 lasted a lot longer, a few months in fact! Imagine my disgust when, once again, a shearing noise accompanied my hinge giving way to 1" inch of "flop". To boot, the Velo has the dreaded "dead touch screen" problem, going dead every 60 seconds of use, requiring me to touch a key or turn the unit off and on.
I wasn't a happy camper. Calling tech support was still a pain - calling from Canada, I need to dial 1-888-FOR-VELO and ask to be transferred to tech support. And I always had a Customer Service agent say, "Sir, in the future you can dial 1-888-ASK-VELO". I would remind them that that phone number didn't work from Canada. They would then reply "Well, we don't sell to Canada". Rather then remind them I'm within screaming distance from the border (as far as Canadians are concerned), I merely sighed and asked to be transferred.
Calling the Velo techs, I spoke to a "Micheal". He informed me that this was normal behavior for Velo 1 units, and that it wasn't a cause for concern. I proceeded to argue with him for a few minutes, trying to convince him that if this was a laptop and I had to spend 10 seconds fiddling with the screen to read it properly, I would return that laptop. The Velo 1 should be no different. He didn't agree. I called back again the next day, spoke to another tech, and the tech agreed to take the unit back. Surprisingly, he knew who I was. That seemed to make things easier, although I was starting to feel like a "Velo hypochondriac". They were finally able to set up a cross-ship for me - again requiring special permission from a manager because I'm "far away in Canada". Sigh. I had to ship it back via FedEx, costing me another $50 CND (if you're keeping track, that's $150 CND total so far).
Velo #4 arrived a few days later, and excitedly I yanked it out of the box. Within 10 minutes I was cursing this Velo 1 - the microphone didn't work. At all. Zilch. Zero. Zip. Pressing the record button resulted in the normal "tic" sound, but the data is recorded couldn't even be described as audio. It was complete garbage, scratches, and if lucky, perhaps one part of a word. This is BEFORE the backup! How's that for quality control? Fuming, I called the tech support, and they were helpful (as always). They gave me a few things to try, but none worked. I received an RMA for this "new" unit, with the promise that my next Velo 1 would be personally inspected and tested (a nice touch) before being sent.
Much to my dismay, I now had TWO dysfunctional Velo's in my possession, and they couldn't cross-ship me a new unit until they got at least ONE unit back (understandable). The problem - it was now Dec. 17th. Sick of spending $50 CND every time I shipped the damn thing back, I sent it via Canadian mail ($25). Since I was leaving Dec 19th for Phoenix, I had to chose between the broken Velo's - take the one with no microphone, or the one with a dead hinge and dead screen? Hmm. Not much of an option. I took the dead-mic unit, and went through about a month with no microphone. Not a nice experience - I use the voice recorder 5-10 times a day.
Velo # 5 arrived in the middle of January, after they confirmed my previous unit had been received. Philips had also send a FedEx weigh-bill to pay for shipping back to the US. Considering up to this point I had spent $175 shipping back defective units, this was a nice touch. This new unit came on it's own, hand inspected. Upon booting, I played with it for a bit. In about five minutes of use, the touch screen went dead once. After smacking my head against my monitor for a few minutes, I restored all my data, and went back to work, albeit with a slight headache.
I've had this unit for about two months now, and the touch screen goes dead once for every 10 minutes of use (approximately). Because the hinge is still good on it, I haven't complained about it. It's the closest thing to a perfect Velo that I've seen. That being said, a few night ago (2/26/98) I turned it on to see it come out of a HARD RESET - meaning I had lost all my data. I hadn't backed up in 5 days, so I lost a fair bit of data. I was more than a little...ticked. In fact, I'm surprised I finished this FAQ.
I've also been offered a change to be involved in a Philips "Review Program". I'm not sure what that entails, but if it means getting a hold of everything sooner, that would be great! I'll keep you posted.
All in all, I'm still convinced the Velo 1 is the best 1st generation HPC, as long as you get "a good one". Vince A., an Outlook MVP, has had his Velo 1 for months and has no problems. I envy him! If the customer service from Philips Mobile Computing Group was anything less than superb, I would have written off the Velo 1 a long time ago. Right now they have my undivided attention and devotion because they try so hard to please their customers - that's something that is worth a great deal to me. After dealing with so many companies that just don't give a damn about thier clients, PMCG impresses me to no end.
So I'm sticking with them - for now.
The way I see it, everything hinges on the Velo 500. Philips has chosen to embark on a dangerous path. They've forgone colour and a bigger size because their customer surveys have told them this. I, for one, agree with their logic. But will everyone else? Even more critical is their quality control issues. If the Velo 500 has the same (or new) hinge and touch screen problems, they're in for it. Customer service can only go so far - especially if the product is causing all the problems.
As soon as I can get a hold of the Velo 500, I'll let you know what I think.