Palm proves it’s still in the smartphone game with the new Treo Pro. After a trip down memory lane earlier this year with the entry-level Centro running Palm OS, Palm returns to Windows Mobile with the Treo Pro (also known as the Treo 850).
The Treo Pro runs WM 6.1 and has a 400 MHz Qualcomm processor with 256 MB of RAM. It has a 2.5-inch display, with the resolution boosted to 320×320.
The Pro also comes in 85millimetres thinner and 20grams lighter than the Treo 750. The Treo Pro is a touchscreen device but is no iPhone-killer. It’s not intended to be – it has its sights set on the BlackBerry crowd. Palm has made a few modifications to the clunky Windows Mobile interface, such as a new screen saver displaying the time, missed calls and messages. Palm has also licensed HTC’s drop-down Task Manager, which makes it easy to access advanced settings and kill applications running in the background.
The phone has Palm’s standard, five-way rocker interface surrounded by four function keys plus answer and end. There are also dedicated volume, camera, wi-fi and mute buttons as well as a stylus. The keys are slightly smaller than those on the 750 but still OK. Anyone doing a lot of text entry should consider a phone with a slide-out qwerty keyboard.
The Treo Pro’s key new features are GPS (stand-alone and assisted) plus 802.11b/g wi-fi with WPA, WPA2, and 801.1x authentication. The Pro also has a quad-band GSM, tri-band UMTS device compatible with EDGE and HSDPA networks – to be used as a wireless broadband modem “tethered” to your notebook. It also has Bluetooth 2.0+ EDR, infra-red, 256MB of onboard storage and a microSDHC card slot supporting cards up to 32GB.
Initially available only from Telstra, the Treo Pro runs on the high-speed Next G network and comes bundled with a range of Telstra services including the Whereis Navigator sat-nav software. Whereis Navigator is far more impressive than Nokia Maps on the Nokia N96, which took us on a wild goose chase last week.
The Treo Pro’s screen is difficult to read in direct sunlight, but not impossible. The phone has a 2-megapixel camera with video capture but no front camera for video calls. This is the first Treo with a 3.5-millimetre headphone jack, but the trade-off is the loss of the multi-connector in favour of microUSB for charging and synching.
Bundled software includes mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Internet Explorer, MSN Messenger, Windows Media Player and Adobe Reader. IE Mobile struggles with complex sites; we’d suggest downloading Mobile Opera (opera.com/products/mobile). The email, calendar, threaded SMS and contacts features are acceptable but clunky.
The mail client supports POP3, IMAP and Microsoft’s Direct Push technology. The Treo Pro is a solid business tool but Palm needs to improve its multimedia and web offerings to fend off BlackBerry and the iPhone 3G.
Palm’s Treo Pro retails for $929