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Palm’s new offering, the Treo Pro, is HSDPA-capable, features a QWERTY keypad and touchscreen input, comes with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and sports a simple layout to boot. But despite sporting the latest features, this smartphone failed to impress and made us ask the question, “Is this worth it?”


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The Treo Pro is definitely one of those smartphones that come with the lot. You can send and receive personal or work e-mails, use the  Wi-Fi to surf the Internet, listen to music, watch video clips (streamed or stored), and even go places with its built-in GPS.

This piano-black phone is made out of hard plastic, which explains why it is light (weighs 132g) and fits comfortably in the hand. The included stylus simplifies menu navigation, while the five-way navigation key and shortcut keys (Start, Calendar, OK, and Messaging) provide additional control. 

The QWERTY keyboard is small and cramped, forcing us to use our fingertips to press buttons. In fact, the keyboard size is probably the same as the Palm Centro we reviewed a couple of months back, which we didn’t like at all because it was hard to type.

 


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The unit also comes with a two-megapixel camera, a Wi-Fi hotkey, an IR port, a 3.5mm jack, volume keys, side button (camera hotkey), and a ringer switch that turns all sounds on or off. Furthermore, opening the back panel reveals a microSD slot, which easily increases the memory capacity of the unit from 100MB to as much as 16GB (as of this moment). Palm has also included a pair of headphones, a USB AC charger, and a USB cable used for charging or synchronising files when connected to a PC.

Palm used the latest Windows Mobile OS (Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional) and did not do anything to ‘mask’ the OS (unlike HTC’s Touch Pro or Diamond). The interface is plain and boring, with the unit feeling like any other smartphone. Since it is exclusive to Telstra, Palm has included a T Business app that automatically connects to the Telstra Business website, which displays the latest business news, weather, and access to other Telstra services like Bigpond and Foxtel Mobile.

Because the unit is pretty much bare, users can launch and run programs without experiencing slowdowns or lags. The hotkeyed programs launches almost instantly, with programs like Office Mobile launching saved Excel and Word files within seconds. Our overall experience was good and we really like the ‘simple’ interface and speedy response time.

 


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Battery life is disappointing, with the Pro lasting only two days with moderate use. What’s worse is when you turn on the Wi-Fi to browse the Internet, or use the Windows Media Player to view video clips or listen to music during your commute, it will only provide you with enough juice to last you a day.

Overall, the Palm Treo is a straightforward phone that is equipped with the latest hardware (and software) to help you stay connected. Unfortunately, the price tag is what turned us off: Palm’s asking price of $929 is just a little too much for a phone that does not offer anything special when compared to other smartphones in the same price range.

For about $200 more, you can get the recently launched HTC Touch Pro that comes with the same set of features but has a bigger keypad, TV-out functionality, and other applications such as FM radio, and Google Maps. Or better yet, you can get yourself a Nokia E71 smartphone which will only cost you $709. 

See page over for product specifications and final rating.

 

Palm Treo Pro Product Specifications:

Platform: Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition
Processor: Qualcomm MSM7201 400MHz
Display: 320×320 transflective color TFT flush touchscreen

Radio:
HSDPA/UMTS/EDGE/GPRS/GSM radio
Tri-band UMTS – 850MHz, 1900MHz, 2100MHz
Quad-band GSM – 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz

Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g with WPA, WPA2, and 801.1x authentication
GPS: Built-in GPS
Wireless Technology: Bluetooth 2.0 + Enhanced Data Rate; Infrared (IR)
Memory: 256MB (100MB user available), 128MB RAM

Camera: 2.0 megapixels with up to 8x digital zoom and video capture
Battery: 1500mAh lithium-ion; Up to 5.0 hours talk time and up to 250 hours standby
Expansion: microSDHC cards (up to 32GB supported)
Connector: MicroUSB 2.0 for synchronization and charging
Audio: 3.5mm stereo headset jack

Dimensions Length: 114mm, Width: 60mm, Depth: 13.4mm
Weight: 132.95g

System Requirements: Windows XP, Windows Vista

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Palm Treo Pro | $929 ($0 on $80 Telstra Business) |  | www.palm.com/au

For: Fast unit; Small and light profile; Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and IR; GPS; HSDPA
Against: Gets dirty easily; No carrying case to protect unit; Poor battery life; Small keys; No added features to justify price tag.
Conclusion: A simple smartphone with a lot connectivity features.

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