Treo 800w Rejoins the Smart-Phone Feature-Set Pack

The first Treo device with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity is worth a look for companies running a Microsoft back-end infrastructure.

Although the Treo 800w is likely the best Treo smart phone Palm has delivered to date, Palm's late adoption of technology now standard on many competing mobile devices leaves the Treo 800w as a middle-of-the-road option for many casual buyers. But for corporations looking to standardize on a Windows Mobile device that has speedy network connections and is out-of-the-box ready for integration with an all-Microsoft back end, the Treo 800w is definitely a worth a look.

At long last, Palm has added Wi-Fi connectivity to a Treo, as the 800w features an 802.11b/g radio in addition to a new integrated GPS receiver. Given how astronomically long it has taken Palm to implement Wi-Fi in any of its devices, it is gratifying to see that the company gone the extra mile to improve upon the basic software functionality that comes with Windows Mobile.

For instance, users can toggle the Wi-Fi radio on and off by holding down a hardware button found on the top edge of the device. Similarly, a quick press of this same button will take the user directly to the Wi-Fi configuration page to conduct a quick scan for nearby networks-allowing the user to create profiles and join WLAN networks. I like this button so much that after a few days I found myself wishing there were a similar hardware button that could toggle power on the wide-area radio as well.

As is commonly the case with new-generation mobile devices running Windows Mobile 6 Service Pack 1, the Treo 800w supports both certificate and preshared key-based Wi-Fi security.

For the wide-area connection, the Treo 800w is among the first devices shipping ready for use with Sprint's EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) Rev A data network (along with the HTC Nomad and the Samsung Instinct), with a Qualcomm MSM6800A chip set providing dual-band support for 800MHz and 1900MHz bands. With the EvDO data connection, using DSL Reports speed tools I found that my download speeds varied between 350K and 650K bps from various locations in and around eWEEK's San Francisco offices.