I’ve been a big fan of Palm Treo smartphones for quite awhile. Since I purchased my very first smartphone (Treo 650), I’ve been using one as my main phone on and off for over three years now. During most of that time, I’ve been a Palm OS user, but I have also used Windows Mobile Treos during that period too. We’ve all watched the slow evolution of Treo hardware and even slower evolution of software – at least on the Palm OS side, throughout the past several years. That’s why I tend to be an on again, off again Treo user. I get bored with either the hardware or the software and get the itch to try something new for awhile. I really liked the Treo 800w and was looking forward to an unlocked GSM version of that model. But instead of doing that, Palm decided to release the Palm Treo Pro. Let’s check it out…
Operating System: Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition
Processor: Qualcomm MSM7201 400MHz
Memory: 256MB user memory (100MB user storage), 128MB program memory
Display: 320 x 320 pixel transfective color TFT touchscreen
Radio: HSDPA/UMTS/EDGE/GPRS/GSM radio
Tri-band UMTS – 850MHz, 1900MHz, 2100MHz
Quad-band GSM – 850/900/1800/1900
Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g with WPA, WPA2, and 801.1x authentication
GPS: Built-in GPS
Bluetooth: Version: 2.0 + Enhanced Data Rate
Digital Camera: 2.0 megapixels with up to 8x digital zoom and video capture
Expansion: microSDHC cards (up to 32GB supported)
Battery: 1500 mAh Rechargeable lithium-ion, Talk time: up to 5.0 hours, Standby time: up to 250 hours
Size: 2.36″ (W) x 4.49″ (L) x 0.53″ (D); weighs
Weight: 4.69 oz
Palm Treo Pro smartphone
AC power charger (100-240 volt, 1A power cable)
Micro USB sync / charge cable
Get Started Guide
Design and Style
First let’s have a look at the Pro and a few of its siblings.
The Treo Pro is available in any color you like, as long as it’s Black :o) Shiny Black. So shiny, that I had a difficult time taking decent photos of it.
The face of the phone has a nice touch screen color display. This is Palm’s first phone that has a flush mount display. I have to say that I do like the lack of a bezel.
The back of the phone is very sleek, with the Palm logo and ring around the camera lens in chrome. There’s a small speaker grill on the back, along with the stylus silo in the bottom corner. The shiny plastic is a magnet for smudges, but appears to be scratch resistant.
To gain access to the SIM card slot and microSD slot, you have to remove the entire back cover of this phone. It is an understatement to say that this is not an easy task. The first time I wrestled with the darn thing for 30 minutes and was completely frustrated until I thought to use one of those little grippy rubber mat things for helping you remove a lid from a jar. Only by using it, was I able to remove the cover. Grrrrrrr…
Below the display is a panel of navigation, application and function buttons. Let’s start with the outside buttons and work our way inward. On either side, there is a small round button with LED illuminated edges. On the Left is the standard Call Send button and on the Right is the Call End button. These buttons are slightly domed and are easy find blindly with your thumb.
There are four backlit application buttons, that surround the center 5-way navigation button. These app buttons are flat, have very shallow travel and provide minimal to no tactile feedback. The center button has the best tactile feedback of all the buttons on this phone and works well.
Like all Treos, the Pro has a QWERTY keyboard. And like the Centro, the Pro’s keyboard has clear plastic keycaps. Although the keyboard is pretty flat, it works just fine and I had no problem with its size or spacing. I really don’t care for the clear keys though. Light glares on them, making it hard to find punctuation characters. In my opinion, the keyboard and application buttons are a step down from what the 800w offers.
Top to bottom: Centro, Treo Pro, Treo 680
The first thing that I noticed about this phone was how thin it was. It is the thinnest (and some would say sexiest…) Treo to date. In hand, the Pro feels extremely solid and comfortable. My gadgeteer squeeze test yielded no flexing or creaking. The only part that rattles when you shake this phone is the mute button.
On the left side, there is a long thin rocker button that controls volume levels. This button sits almost flush with the case and has weak tactile feedback. Below it is the camera launch / shutter button, which is slightly raised and has decent tactile feedback.
On the opposite side, you’ll find an infrared port and WiFi button. This button is very small, sits flush with the case and has pretty much no tactile feedback at all. If WiFi is turned off, pressing the button will power it on and automatically connect to your
last used access point. If it’s already on, pressing the button will bring up the connections dialog box. To turn off WiFi, you can do so through the Today screen.
On the bottom of the phone, you’ll find the new style micro USB power / sync connector that Palm started using with the 800w. There’s also a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack. Yay, nice addition! Palm even includes earbuds with a built in microphone and a call answer / end button. Too bad you can’t use that same button to pause music while playing though.
On the top edge of the Pro, you’ll find the mute switch and radio power / display button. Pressing this button once will toggle the display on / off. Holding it down for several seconds will toggle power to the GSM radio. Surprisingly, this button will not completely power down the device though. Actually, there isn’t a way to power off the Treo Pro besides removing the back cover and the battery. In my opinion this is really lame! I might not complain that much about it if it were easy to remove the back cover, but that’s not the case at all. Far from it.
Like I mentioned earlier, the Treo Pro’s display is flush with the face of the device. It’s crisp and bright. As a touch screen it is responsive and finger friendly.
One very cool new feature of this Treo is the screensaver. While the display is toggled off, the time of day and date are displayed in monochrome. I love this feature because I carry my phone with me when I go on walks. I used to always have to press a button to wake the phone up to see the time. Now I just look at the display and it’s there in big letters, easy to see.
In addition to the time, small icons will appear while in screensaver mode to alert you to missed calls and text messages. For some odd reason, missed alarm notifications and voice mails aren’t shown. Go figure.
I hope you haven’t been holding your breath, waiting for me to say that the Treo Pro has the best camera of any phone ever! If so, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but the built in camera is just as crappy as every Treo that has come before it. Am I being harsh?
Maybe just a little… As is, the camera is useful for those times when no other camera is available. Here are a few sample pics:
As you can see, the images are a bit fuzzy and flat looking.
The Treo 800w was the first Treo to include WiFi, and the Pro also includes it. I had no problems using it at all. It connected quickly to my access point when the side button was pressed. Surfing with Pocket Internet Explorer felt pretty snappy all things considered.
The Treo Pro includes a built in GPS that you can use with Google Maps and Windows Live Search which are already included on the phone. TeleNav GPS Navigator comes pre-installed on the Pro too. You have to pay a monthly fee ($10) to use it after the trial period has expired though. This GPS can also work with other third party navigation apps such as CoPilot.
In addition to all the regular Windows Mobile applications, a few extra goodies have been added to the Pro. First of all, the Today screen has some added functionality.
You’ll notice the icon in the upper Right corner…
Pressing it will bring up the currently running tasks list. You can press the big Red X to close all running applications, or you can close individual processes in the list. Tapping the wrench icon will bring up the regular Task Manager application and tapping the memory chip will bring up the Windows Mobile memory settings app.
Clicking the communications status bar on the Today screen will launch the Communications manager application. This is a quick and dirty little app that has on/off switches for all your com settings.
In the GPS section of this review, I mentioned that the TeleNav GPS application is included on the Pro. Another application that is included and installed is WorldMate Pro. This a really nice travel app that allows you to check weather at different locations, flight status, various converters, etc.
Other software additions include Sprite Backup software and a streaming media application from HTC.
The Treo Pro doesn’t feel nearly as snappy as I remember the 800w feeling. I wouldn’t say that it is dog slow, but I get a sense of slight lagging when I load and switch between applications. I’ve also noticed some overall wonkiness at times with the device that occurs when I’ve tried to load a large eBook or video. Instead of just killing the viewer or reader app, it will make the whole system unstable. Resetting the device requires (you guessed it…) that you remove the back cover. Bleh.
I found video playback through the Windows Mobile media player to be hit and miss. Sometimes the whole phone would freeze up or refuse to load a video. Other times, they would play, but with considerable missed frames or with hurky jerkiness.
Call reception and call audio quality seemed to be as good as I would expect from AT&T – the GSM carrier that I tested this phone with. I had the normal issues that I deal with all the time, some calls that don’t go through when you dial them, static, etc. Volume levels were definitely loud enough for me though, no complaints there.
As for battery life, I didn’t do any extensive testing as I often had the phone plugged into USB to sync and install applications. During those days when I wasn’t installing or syncing, I could get away with around 2 full days between charges.
I wanted to really like the Treo Pro, I really did. Heck, I was so sure that I would love it, that I bought this device with my own cash ($550) instead of just trying to get a review unit! I really regret buying it now though… I have to say that this is the first Treo that I’ve purchased that has disappointed me so badly. Although it looks very nice in my opinion, the way it performs is very
underwhelming. Maybe it’s the fault of Windows Mobile or an underpowered CPU. I’m really not sure. If the Pro were running Palm OS, I wouldn’t like it any better… I suppose that the biggest reason why I don’t like this phone though is the buttons. That might seem like a trivial reason, but I’m all about how easy it is to use a device and the buttons on the Treo Pro are crummy. If only Palm had used the 800w design for their unlocked GSM phone instead of this one. I think my days of cheerleading for Palm are numbered unless they do something great soon. And unfortunately, I really don’t see that happening…