We all know that today's business world is more connected and more mobile than ever before. New technology and form factors are being introduced every day. Recently, we got to test the Treo™ Pro Smartphone, a very capable new offering from Palm.
The Palm Treo Smartphone - Unlocked
I'm a pragmatist when it comes to business tools. My feeling is that as a tool, function has to rule over form. With one notable exception, the Palm Treo™ Pro Smartphone is an excellent example of this paradigm. The model we tested is the unlocked version, which can be used with any standard Sim card and is therefore usable virtually worldwide. The Treo™ Pro was designed to be a more svelte and stylish version of Palm's workhorse series of smartphones. It runs the Windows mobile 6.1 Professional Edition as its operating system. That fact offers many advantages including Outlook e-mail, the Microsoft suite of word, excel and PowerPoint and a native Internet explorer mobile Browser. The drawback of course is that it's the Microsoft windows mobile operating system and that comes with its own set of issues.
The look and feel of the Treo™ Pro is meant to be smooth and sleek. Palm went with the glossy piano black finish which, as we all know, looks great coming out of the box but is quick to attract every finger print within a two block radius. The screen is a moderate 320 x 320 touchscreen whose size, though limited, affords very good color and resolution. We loaded up the Kinoma™ mobile media browser and were delighted with both the video and audio output. If you're not familiar, Kinoma makes arguably the premier mobile media browser/player for mobile platforms. The Treo built-in camera is adequate, but with no flash function, and only mediocre low light compensation capability, its functions are limited. As an adjunct to the tool belt it's fine, but don't make it your first choice for your next YouTube video.
Palm has loaded this phone with every form of radio functionality possible. Besides your chosen cell provider, WiFi is built-in, along with a tri-band 3G radio that can connect to EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA, and GPRS networks. The Bluetooth function is a major improvement over earlier Palm models. We tested numerous Bluetooth headsets, both mono and stereo and had extremely good results. They also include GPS and Google maps, which do a great job of turn by turn directions.
The only real drawback I found with the Treo Pro was the keyboard. The keys are a little too small, narrow and rubbery for a person with fingers larger than a nine-year-olds. I don't mean this to sound as harsh as it seems, but the keyboard on the 680, 700P, 800W etc. were spaced a little wider, and were distinctly easier to use. As a business tool this is an important issue, but not necessarily a dealbreaker. With practice and some patience you can become reasonably proficient.
We really enjoyed the Treo Pro Smartphone because it incorporated almost all of the best design attributes of Palm's phones. The little conveniences such as the mute switch, and a switch to turn WiFi on and off (which is a big battery saver) are part of the nice and well considered touches integrated into this latest Palm design.