Palm announced Nov. 22 that its new Treo 680 smart phone will be available on the Cingular Wireless 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 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. The graphite—or gray—version of the phone is from Cingular and costs $199 with an unlimited data plan and a two-year contract. The Treo 680 also is available in 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 (Global System for Mobile Communications) network. GSM networks are widely used in Europe and Asia and are operated by Cingular and T-Mobile USA carriers in the United States.
Powered by an Intel 312MHz processor, the Treo 680 boasts 64MB of user memory and 64MB of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM). 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 standby 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-size SD (Secure Digital) 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 (General Packet Radio Service) and EDGE (Enhanced Data for Global Evolution) Class 10 networks. Unfortunately, the phone does not support 3G UMTS/HSDPA (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System/High-Speed Downlink 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.
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 incorporates the Ignore with Text feature introduced in the Treo 700w. This feature allowed us to ignore a call but send an SMS (Short Message Service) text message explaining why the call was not answered.
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 [email protected].
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