25 Oct Christmas comes early with Treo 650
I have been anticipating this day like a child waits for Christmas. Today, PalmOne introduces the Treo 650, the answer to my “what smart phone will I buy?” conundrum.
I saw the new Treo six weeks ago in a private suite at the DEMOmobile conference (Yes, even I take a break from the schmoozing to sneak off and see secretive stuff). I saw the 650 and immediately fell in love. This newest handheld communicator takes everything that was right about the Treo 600 — its slim design, bright display, core software suite — and makes it better.
By looks alone, the Treo 650 is a winner. The 320 by 320 pixel display is bright and crisp. The backlit keyboard is an improved design that makes typing much easier than with previous models. And the built-in camera does a beautiful job compensating for low-light settings.
Looks alone won’t sell this phone, so the improvements under the cover matter a great deal. Most importantly, PalmOne added 32 megabytes bytes of non-volatile memory and a removable battery. This means that for the most part, you’ll never lose your data because of a drained battery. Built-in Bluetooth supports wireless headsets, among printers and other Bluetooth-enabled peripherals — essential, I think, for devices of this design. The Treo 650’s expansion slot supports industry-standard SD cards, making the device infinitely expandable.
And the multimedia capabilities — from the great camera, which also captures video, to the MP3 player, to the single inbox for text and picture messaging — make this a complete communicator for an audience (adults over 35) that needs smart software and device design to take advantage of multimedia messaging.
Of course, the Treo 650 will roll out through wireless carriers — and that means I’ll have to wait just a bit longer. It will be available in either a dual-band CDMA/1xRTT model or a GSM/GPRS/EDGE quad-band world phone. Carriers will set the price, which will likely be about a $100 increase over the going rate for the Treo 600. Some carriers will get the device to market later this year with a broader global rollout to follow in 2005.
Sprint PCS today announced it will be the first carrier to carry the dual-band Treo 650 — the device will be available next month for $600 (plus monthly wireless service). The device will be available at Sprint Stores, Sprint’s business channels and through it’s online store. A non-camera version will also be available for Sprint business customers later this year, the company says.
When I realized it was time to practice what I preach and upgrade to a smart phone, I polled a ton of people who develop applications for mobile phone platforms. While there are some very strong arguments for the Microsoft platform, the overwhelming favorite was the PalmOne Treo. People who use Microsoft Smartphone devices cite practical considerations for their choice. Treo users, on the other hand, are passionate about it. The Treo 650 makes perfectly clear why that is so. It’s beautiful, functional and reliable.
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Chris Shipley is the executive producer of NetworkWorld’s DEMO Conferences, Editor of DEMOletter and a technology industry analyst for nearly 20 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Shipley, has covered the personal technology business since 1984 and is regarded as one of the top analysts covering the technology industry today. Shipley has worked as a writer and editor for variety of technology consumer magazines, including PC Week, PC Magazine, PC/Computing, and InfoWorld, US Magazine and Working Woman. She has written two books on communications and Internet technology, has won numerous awards for journalistic excellence, and was named the #1 newsletter editor by Marketing Computers for two years in a row. To subscribe to DEMOletter please visit: http://www.idgexecforums.com/demoletter/index.html.
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