When it comes to smartphones, the Treo is one of the first that comes to mind. With the release of the Treo 650, mobile business people now have another great tool to help them. Since Sprint is currently the only carrier to have the Treo 650 this review will be limited to that service.
- Rapid-fire trigger
- Built in digital camera
- 312 MHz processor
- 23MB user-available memory
- Removable rechargeable lithium ion battery
- Palm OS® 5.4
- 320 x 320 resolution
- Supports SD, SDIO and MultiMediaCards
- Infrared port
As with all battery operated electronics, the first thing you must do is charge the battery. The user guide encourages you to plug it in and wait for the charging light to turn green. This may take up to 4 hours. Because the Treo 650 does not come with a cradle or alternative charging device, unless you bought one, you must put the battery into the phone before you can charge it. Once it is charged, then you can continue with the software setup.
palmOne has worked really hard to make setting up your Treo really easy. Most phones are actually already setup for you before you get it. If it is not activated then all you need to do is call the customer service and they will take care of it.
The rest of the software doesn’t really need to be set up, it just needs to be used and customized. You will want to put your owner information into it so if it gets lost it can be returned.
The Treo 650 doesn’t change much from the Treo 600. In fact, there are only a few minor cosmetic changes between the two. You will find that most of the changes are not design, but rather hardware and software.
The biggest change to the design of the Treo 650 is the battery. Never before has a Treo had a removable battery. This is a big step for power users. Rather than having to keep the device plugged in when the battery runs out, you can now easily replace it with another charged battery.
Other design changes include a more rounded antenna, extruding phone speaker for your ear, and two new buttons under the screen for home and menu and another button on the side under the volume buttons.
There is also a slight change to the look of the camera on the back. There is a small circle to the right of the lens. At first I thought it was the shutter button for taking pictures. I tried pressing it, but it doesn’t depress. It would be a great place to put a shutter button if they add one.
The rest of the changes are all hardware and software. They include a more powerful processor. The Intel™ PXA270 312 MHz processor is what powers all the features of the Treo 650. This is about twice the MHz that the Treo 600 had. The Treo 650 also has a 320 x 320 pixel transflective color display. This provides a much sharper image and text than the Treo 600s 160 x 160 passive matrix display.
The Treo 650 also includes Bluetooth, which provides support for headsets and HotSyncing. There is also an update on the way that will enable Bluetooth DUN (dial up networking). This will give you the ability to use the phone as a modem for your computer.
The Treo 650’s keyboard is almost identical to the Treo 600. The keyboard still has the same layout, for example the keys still curve slightly up as you move out toward the edges for the phone. The individual keys themselves have been improved by now requiring less pressure and they have also been flattened a bit — this makes it easier to push and your fingers won’t slip and press the wrong button as much. The backlight for the keys is very bright and because most keys are white, the light shows through them and contrasts well with the painted black letters. The dual-purpose keys are blue with white letters and numbers that are bright with the backlight. When the phone screen is open on the display, blue keys are numbers rather than letters. As with a desktop keyboard, the shift key capitalizes letters but unlike a desktop keyboard it does not activate the punctuation. A dedicated function key activates common punctuation, numbers and symbols. This button is white with a black ink blob. The Alt key brings up a pop-up list of additional symbols available for the key just pressed. The keyboard has both left and right shift keys, and an long space bar.
While the Treo 650 may not have the most powerful processor in a PDA, it doesn’t really need one. The Palm operating system is very lightweight and does not have a lot processor intensive application.
The Treo 650 also uses a new type of memory for storage. NVFS (non-volatile file system) memory is great because even if your device looses power you won’t loose your data. The use of this memory is what allows the Treo 650 to have a removable battery. This memory is a bit slower than RAM, so you may notice some slowness when you open and close programs. Also the file system is not as efficient at storing files so you will notice that files take up more space than on the Treo 600. Hopefully Palm will have an update for this soon so we can transfer all our files from out Treo 600 to our Treo 650 without running out of space. The Treo 650 only comes with 23MB of memory which I feel the is a bit small. Especially with most programs needing from 1 to 5MB. Most Windows based devices will come with 50 to 100MB of memory.
To fight the space crunch you do have the option of buying additional memory cards. The Treo 650 has a Secure Digital slot so you can plug in extra cards and store more stuff. These cards are the perfect place to store lots of files like mp3s, games and other programs. This slot also supports SDIO which allows the use of SD networking cards and SD GPS devices. Officially you cannot add WiFi to this device, but there has been news recently of a person who was able to modify a few files to allow the use of a WiFi card. Be warned that if you do this you will most likely void your warranty.
When you first turn on the Treo 650 and you have the phone turned on, then you are presented with the phone dialer. The phone is very responsive and dialing is easy to do with the stylus or with your fingers. The onscreen buttons are big enough that you don’t easily push the wrong button. You can also dial directly from the contacts or web pages by just clicking on the phone number.
At the top part of the dial screen you will get battery life, signal strength, time and date, and Bluetooth status. When the signal gets to one or two bars the conversation gets really choppy. Those that I talked to say that it is hard to understand me when the signal is low. For the most part the signal was really good.
As far as email is concerned the Treo 650 includes palmOne’s VersaMail program. This program supports multiple email accounts, POP3, IMAP and Exchange ActiveSync. There is also a messaging program that supports SMS and MMS. The application is called Messaging and can also email when used in conjunction with Sprint’s PCS Business Connection software and service and your company’s Exchange Server.
As with the Treo 600, the 650 comes with a 0.3 megapixel camera. For a phone this is a decent camera and the pictures are fairly clear for a phone camera. You certainly would not want to use this for family portraits, but you can use it for candid shots of your friends and family.
The software for the camera is fairly easy to use. To take a picture you can either press the onscreen button or the button in the middle of the navigation button. There are several controls in the software that allow you to change the resolution between 320 x 320 and 640 x 640. You can also choose a save location and switch between video and pictures. You are suppose to be able to zoom with this camera, but I was never able to get this to work. I tried several things, but it never zoomed. The movies are just like the pictures, of modest quality and size. Be wary of how many movies and pictures you take because it will quickly eat up your precious memory.
As you can see from the pictures I took the colors are not very accurate and the picture is fuzzy. Be aware of this because if you are buying this for taking good pictures you will be dissapointed. It would be nice if they offered a model without the camera. This would reduce the price of the phone and free up some memory by not requiring the photo and movie software.
The sound on the Treo 650 is adequate. You cannot expect that much from such a small device. It has a single small speaker and it does its best to reproduce music and sound as it is needed. The Treo 650 does have a headset jack for talking on the phone, but you need to buy an adapter in order to plug in headphones.
Because the phone is so bulky and uncomfortable to hold you will probably find yourself using a headset quite often. Besides using a headset also allows you to look up information on the Treo while you are talking. This is the main reason to buy a Phone/PDA combination.
This is a really decient device for anyone who needs a PDA/phone. Even though it does not excel at either being a PDA or a phone, it is good at doing them together. If you are looking for just a PDA then I would recommend a Windows based device. They are easier to use and quite a bit more powerful. If you are a gamer the new Axim X50v has much more powerful processor and a dedicated graphics processer. If you are looking for a phone, then there are smaller and more comfortable ones for a lot less. For $599 this is an expensive device. If you are on the road a lot it may be worth it to you. I would highly recommend getting a service with the Treo 650 because they come with rebates which can reduce the price down to $349. Make sure you shop around and compare features.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|