PalmOne Extends Treo on the High End

Palmone this week will unveil the Treo 650 smart phone, which has a higher-resolution color screen than the Treo 600 and a faster processor.

PalmOne Inc. this week will unveil the Treo 650 smart phone, although the phone likely will not be available from carriers until later this fall.

The Treo 650 will be available on two platforms: CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) 1xRTT dual-band and GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications)/ GPRS (General Packet Radio Service)/EDGE quad-band. PalmOne will showcase the devices at this weeks CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment expo in San Francisco, but officials would not say when carriers will make the phones available except that it should be in time "for the holiday season." Sprint Corp., for its part, will not immediately offer the phone, said sources.

PalmOne officials said the Treo 650s changes were based on surveys of Treo 600 users. "We modified the software to make it easier, improved the e-mail solutions and added greater multimedia capabilities," said Michelle White, senior product manager for Treo, in Milpitas, Calif.

/zimages/5/28571.gifeWEEK Labs found that the Treo 600 strikes a good balance between wireless handset and handheld computer. Click here to read more.

Also in response to user feedback, the Treo 650 adds a higher-resolution 320-by-320-pixel thin-film-transistor, 65,000-color screen and a faster Intel Corp. PXA270 312MHz processor to replace the 144MHz processor in the Treo 600.

"That extra horsepower is needed for more processor-intensive functions like video and DVD playback," said White. The Treo 650 includes a built-in MP3 player and allows video capture and playback. Also new in the Treo 650 is built-in Bluetooth technology.

/zimages/5/90269.jpgAt least one Treo user is looking forward to these new features.

Dave Printz, CIO of Central DuPage Hospital, in Windfield, Ill., said Bluetooth support is one reason some of the hospitals physicians may try the Treo. "They dont want to lose the Bluetooth functionality they have in their cars now; theyre used to it. Plus, we get a great signal in our operating rooms now, and they want to use it for hands-free communication," said Printz.

The hospital started moving its staff to smart phones last year, and now 15 percent of the medical staff—from physicians to nurses to pharmacists—use a Palm or Pocket PC-based smart phone.

While the Treo 650s pricing will be determined by individual carriers, White said it likely will be around the cost of the Treo 600, which is priced at $499, and that the price of the Treo 600 will also come down.

Additional reporting by Carmen Nobel

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