Handspring Inc.s Treo 90 is the first handheld device in the Treo product line to lack integrated cell phone functionality—an omission that lends the Treo 90 the slimmest, most pleasant form factor of any handheld organizer that eWeek Labs has seen.
Beyond its slimness, the most exciting attribute of the 90 is its SD (Secure Digital) card slot for industry-standard peripheral expansion. Even with 16MB of RAM built into the device, Treo users will likely need more storage space on their devices, and the SD and MMCs (multimedia cards) that the Treo 90s expansion slot accommodates will well serve this need.
Whats disappointing, however, is that the 90s SD slot is unsuited to serve any other need. Unlike the SD card slots in Palm Inc.s handhelds, the Treo 90 does not support SDIO (Secure Digital I/O), which makes it useless for nonstorage peripherals such as Bluetooth SD modules.
The Treo 90, which began shipping late last month, is priced at $299 and competes most directly with Palms similarly equipped, $279 m130. However, measuring a svelte 2.8 inches wide by 0.65 inches thick by 4.2 inches long, with a heft of 4 ounces, the Treo 90 is about an ounce and a half lighter and a third of an inch thinner than that Palm device.
Like its siblings, the Treo 90 relies on a Research In Motion Ltd.-style thumb keyboard for data input.
The Treo 90 features a supertwist nematic display color that is brighter indoors—but less readable in bright sunlight—than the reflective displays found in Palms latest handhelds. The Treo 90s 12-bit color display shows fewer hues than the 16-bit displays that most devices now handle, but fewer colors make less difference on the Treo 90s low-resolution, 160-by-160-pixel display than on higher-resolution Palm OS devices from Sony Electronics Inc. or on Pocket PC-based handhelds.
The Treo 90 ships with a hard plastic, flip-down cover with a transparent window through which we could see the display while the cover was shut. The cover would be much more useful, however, if the Treo 90 included the same scroll wheel controller featured on other Treo units. With no scroll wheel, we could perform very little device navigation with the lid closed.
The Treo 90 comes with a USB HotSync cable, a travel charger for its internal lithium-ion battery, and desktop synchronization software for Windows and Mac OS systems.
Technical Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.