Palm Takes Small Steps Foward with Treo 755p

Review: With a trimmed down chassis and several new applications, the Treo family is now more in line with Palm's GSM offerings.

Palms new Treo 755p may not represent a major advance over existing Treo models, but with its slightly slimmed-down chassis and handful of interesting new applications, the device adds some punch to Sprints Treo family, bringing it more in line with Palms GSM-based offerings.

Sprint customers standardized on the Treo 700p will find little reason to upgrade their existing mobile fleet to the Treo 755p at this time. Those with older devices that do not support the fastest generation of wireless data access, however, may find the Treo 755 compelling enough to upgrade although the lack of an integrated Wi-Fi radio means that Treo products have yet to realize any value as dual-mode phones for a VOIP (Voice over IP)-enabled network.

The Treo 755p, available through Sprint starting in mid-May, costs $280 after rebates, promotions and a 2-year service commitment. Enterprises that already have a corporate cell phone plan will likely pay something closer to the suggested list price of $579.

The Treo 755p will supplant the Treo 700p in Sprints product line, the latter of which will likely be phased out shortly. In truth, the Treo 755p has many of the same elements as the Treo 700p, from its operating system (Palm OS 5.4.9) on down to its 312 MHz Intel XScale processor and 128 MB of built-in storage with 60 MB available for user storage. However, the 755p amps up the removable storage limits, now supporting up to 4GB via the new MiniSD slot.

The Treo 755p is slightly smaller than the Treo 700p, measuring in at 4.4 by 2.12 by 0.84 inches and weighing 5.64 ounces. Keeping with Palms tradition of providing better screens for the Palm OS-powered devices than for those with Windows Mobile, the Treo 755p includes a bright 320x320 screen rather than the 240x240 screen that comes with the Treo 750.

One of the most notable differences between the Treo 755p and the Treo 700p is the lack of an external antenna for the CDMA2000 EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) radio. Like the GSM-only Treo 750, the Treo 755p has an internal antenna which is embedded along the top of the unit.

The new internal placement has also caused some slight modifications in the external placement of a few features in the new model. For instance, the infrared panel is now on the right side near the top corner, and the removable storage slot is in the middle on the right, underneath a rather flimsy plastic door that will likely snap off under the least bit of duress.

Continuing the time-honored Palm tradition, the Treo 755p does not include a Wi-Fi radio for LAN connectivity, so it has no potential to be a dual-mode phone. However, the 755p but does offer a relatively fast Internet connection via the integrated EvDO wireless WAN adapter and also supports Bluetooth 1.2 for wireless headsets or a an unwired data connection for a laptop computer.

With its 1600 mAh Li-ion (lithium ion) battery, the Treo 755p promises up to 4.2 hours of talk time or 240 hours of standby time. As with every Treo weve tried to date, wed recommend charging the Treo daily for anyone subjecting their device to a moderate workload.

The Treo 755p comes in two colors: burgundy and midnight blue. The entire outer shell feels ever so slightly rubberized, giving the device a nice gripable, tacky feel. Even better, the new coating helps the device stick slightly to surfaces, implying that perhaps the unit wont vibrate off the desk if placed too close to the edge.

Unfortunately, the Treo 755p includes a flimsy plastic stylus rather than the solid one that comes with the Treo 700p. We found the new stylus a little too flexible and potentially breakable, and we would replace it with a firmer model in heartbeat.

Palms VersaMail 3.5.4 application includes support for Microsoft Exchanges ActiveSync to provide push e-mail capabilities. However, this capability requires Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2 or Exchange 2007 on the server side of things. Otherwise, VersaMail supports POP3 (Post Office Protocol), MAPI (Messaging API) and IMAP and includes profiles for numerous common mail services to get up and running quickly.

The Treo 755p comes with Google Maps preinstalled with some additional features that cant be had by simply downloading the application on a legacy Treo. Specifically, Treo 755p users can call up a Google map directly from their contact database by pressing the new map button found on the contact page. Unfortunately, this wonderful improvement only occurs with the integrated Palm contact application. For instance, companies leveraging Motorolas Good Technology to synchronize Treos will find the Good contact application does not include the mapping link.

The Treo 755p also includes a new multi-network Instant Messaging application that will support Yahoo, MSN and AIM. As with desktop IM applications, the Palm IM client downloaded our IM contact lists on the fly during login, so we were quickly able to get to chatting with our friends and associates. In tests, however, we could only log into our Yahoo account and not AIM. Palm representatives assured us that the other networks would be operational by the time products started shipping.

Mobile administrators should take care to understand how IM will be billed. At one point during our tests, we saw a warning screen that seemingly indicated IM traffic may be billed as SMS (Short Message Service) traffic, rather than being treated as regular traffic than would be covered by an unlimited data plan. We would advise clarifying this issue with the service provider before deploying the application.


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