Palm Unveils Latest Treo Smart Phone

With the ability to carry more onboard data and connect to EvDO networks, in addition to an array of other platform upgrades, the company's new smart phone aims to appeal to consumers and enterprise users alike.

Palm continued the build-out of its high-end Treo line on May 15, introducing its new model 700p smart phone.

The second of four new Treo versions that the company is expected to release this year, the handheld runs on the Palm operating system and offers the ability to connect to EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) networks at a rate of up to 700K bps. In January, Palm introduced the Treo 700w, which runs on Microsofts Windows Mobile OS.

The device will first be offered by carriers Sprint and Verizon Wireless in the United States, with pricing for the handheld yet to be detailed.

Palm is counting on the Treo 700p and its sister devices to help expand the growing market for so-called smart phones, or handheld devices that offer more PC-like features than todays basic handsets. The newest Palm offers 128MB of memory onboard, an estimated 60MB of which can be accessed by its owner for the utilization of mobile applications.

Through the addition of the Palm OS, the company said the device will be able to handle data-driven applications such as e-mail, instant messaging and file attachments at faster rates, while also boosting the handhelds Web browsing capabilities via Palms Blazer browser. The newest Treo also offers Palms first multimedia content-streaming applications.

Palm officials said that the Treo 700p boasts far superior e-mail and messaging capabilities overall, which they labeled as one of the most crucial elements in convincing enterprises to buy the phones. In addition to tighter integration with Microsofts Exchange Server 2003 ActiveSync support, which includes the ability to deliver contact data as well as calendar capabilities, the company is touting pre-configured support for Web-based e-mail clients including AOL, Gmail and Yahoo.

The new Treo also supports full-PDF versions of DataVizs Documents To Go platform, which provides mobile versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

"Within the enterprise e-mail is still the big driver, and well continue to focus on that as a way to go through the front door and drive other applications," said Steve Sinclair, senior product manager at Palm. "Mass deployments of these devices do require IT support, but we believe that our open architecture makes us very attractive to larger enterprises."

Another major selling point of the handhelds is their ability to be used as wireless modems either via a USB connection or Bluetooth, in essence eliminating the need for users carrying the Treo 700p to seek out a wireless hot spot when they need to connect their PC to the Internet.

While earlier Treo models could be used in the same manner via aftermarket tools, the new device is capable of serving as a modem on its own, and the company claims that EvDO connectivity allows for dial-up Web access approaching broadband wireless data rates.

Among the other new features Palm is touting in the Treo 700p are a 1.3-megapixel camera and camcorder, along with image and video management tools, and on-board audio-playing software from NormSoft.

One of the major catalysts driving the Treo 700ps design, as with the other Treo models, is appealing to both consumers and business users, said Palms Sinclair. Many users will want to use the handhelds for both purposes and convince their employers to consider buying the devices themselves, he said.

"A lot of people are pitching these Treos as mini laptops, and its easier for some decision-makers to look at it that way," he said. "Companies are starting to look at deploying these devices from a more holistic approach, but we know there are a lot of people who will buy them to use in their personal or business lives, and end up carrying them for both reasons."