Treo 680: Color It Consumer

Review: eWEEK Labs' tests of Palm's new Treo 680 show that the device is a good starter smart phone but insufficient for business users' needs.

Palm announced Nov. 22 that its new Treo 680 smart phone will be available on the Cingular network. While Palm has targeted business-focused users in the past, the Treo 680—a quad-band world phone—is the first Treo aimed at consumers.

During tests, eWEEK Labs found the Treo 680 to be a good first smart phone for consumers. Business-oriented end users, however, will probably find other Palm devices—such as the Treo 700p—more suitable.

Indeed, Palm has made it clear that the Treo 680 is intended for a more mainstream audience, and proved it by releasing the smart phone in four different colors.

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The graphite—or gray—version of the phone will be available from Cingular and will cost $199 with an unlimited data plan and a two-year contract.

The Treo 680 was originally launched at Ziff Davis Medias DigitalLife conference in October. (Ziff Davis Media is the parent company of eWEEK.)

/zimages/3/28571.gifPalm launches Treo 680 at DigitalLife. Click here to read more.

At its retail and online stores, Palm will offer the Treo 680 in graphite and three other colors: crimson, copper and arctic (otherwise known as red, orange and white, respectively).

Priced at $399, the unlocked version of the Treo 680 can be used on any GSM network. GSM networks are widely used in Europe and Asia, and operated by Cingular and T-Mobile carriers in the United States.

Powered by an Intel 312MHz processor, the Treo 680 boasts 64MB of user memory and 64MB of SDRAM. The smart phone is the first Treo to have an internal antenna and boasts 4 hours of talk time and up to 300 hours of stand-by time.

The Treo 680 measures 4.4 inches by 2.3 inches by 0.8 inches, and it weighs 5.5 ounces. The device has a full-sized SD card slot and, like all Treos, a QWERTY keyboard.

The Treo 680 is a quad-band (850/900/1,800/1,900) phone that runs on GSM, GPRS and EDGE Class 10 networks. Unfortunately, the phone does not support 3G UMTS/HSDPA (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System /High Speed Downlink Data Packet Access) networks—higher-speed networks being built by Cingular and T-Mobile.

Palm officials told eWEEK Labs that they were able to keep costs down by not supporting the higher-speed networks. However, our colleagues at PC Magazine have reported that another reason is that the Palm OS 5.4 operating system that runs on the Treo 680 cant handle the simultaneous voice and data connections required by UMTS.

Palm has a 3G Treo on the market, the Treo 750v, but it is available only in Europe on the Vodafone network. No U.S. release date for the Treo 750v—a Microsoft Windows Mobile-based device—has been announced.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about the Treo 680 from PCMag.com.

Users hoping for Wi-Fi access are also out of luck. The Treo 680 does not support Wi-Fi, nor does it support Palms Wi-Fi card. The smart phone does, however, support Bluetooth 1.2.

Weve always found the Palm OS to be intuitive, and it was no different with the Treo 680. We liked that the Treo 680 incorporated the Ignore with Text feature introduced in the Treo 700w. This feature allowed us to ignore a call but send an SMS text message explaining why the call was not answered.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead more here about the Treo 700p.

The Treo 680 comes with a document viewer, and it can view native PDF documents. Palm also has improved e-mail capabilities with this device. For example, with the addition of smart addressing, the device will remember and auto-fill e-mail addresses that have been recently used.

One thing we would have liked to see on the Treo 680 is a better camera. While most smart phones—and cell phones—weve reviewed recently have had at least a 1.3-megapixel camera, the Treo 680 has an insufficient VGA camera.

Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at anne_chen@ziffdavis.com.

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