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Palm Treo 680 Review Part 1: Introduction

Treo680Detail1With the new Palm Treo 680 finally becoming available to buy (Cingular) and pre-order (Palm Unlocked GSM) yesterday hundreds of thousands of existing and future Treonauts will be rushing to upgrade or buy their first one.

For some Treonauts like me the buying decision will be a relative no brainer (I will be upgrading from my trusted GSM Treo 650 to an Unlocked Treo 680 – possibly getting one of each colour) while others will carefully review and balance all parameters to reach their decision.  Overall everyone will have a slightly different reason for doing so (see Choosing Your Next Treo) with the design, colours, hardware, software, Unlocked GSM and/or carrier all playing a role in the decision process. 

In my case the single most important upgrade consideration has been one of design with the new antenna-less, slimmer, lighter and slicker form-factor that I absolutely love.  With my new Treo 680 I now truly have a pocketable smartphone that feels absolutely great in my hands and which makes me happy just by holding it – there’s no doubt that it is very much an iconic device.  The Treo 680 is beautiful, a lot of fun, simple to use, affordable, extremely convenient, practical and powerful all in one device – plenty to continue to make me a delighted Treonaut.

Sure, the Treo 680 could have more or better features but they would all have jeopardized the particular balance – call it a ‘compromise’ – that it offers.  You will hear about people complaining that the Treo does not for example offer WiFi when competing devices that do are either more expensive, bigger, heavier, uglier, don’t have a touchscreen, don’t have a keyboard, have a more complex and less intuitive operating system or another balancing factor. 

The fact is that if there was a competing smartphone that I truly considered to be much better than the Treo then I would surely already have switched to it and started a blog for that device.  In the end I don’t really care about what the Treo 680 does not offer but what I do care about is the fact that the Treo simply offers me just the “right balance” of design, hardware and software at a terrific price.

For those existing and future Treonauts who may not yet have firmly decided to buy a new Treo 680, over the coming days I will provide you with a three part review that will take a much closer and detailed look at the new 1) design, 2) hardware and 3) software that the Treo 680 offers.

In the meantime, wishing all Treonauts in the US a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

Update:
Palm Treo 680 Review Part 2: Form-Factor Design
Treo 680 Review Part 3: Unlocked GSM In My Delighted Hands

Treonauts are always happy


Posted by Andrew on November 23, 2006 at 02:07 PM

Treo 680 Review

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Palm Treo 680 Review Part 1: Introduction:

» Palm Treo 680 Reviews: from Office Mobility Blog
As of yet we haven’t really commented on Palm’s new Treo 680. While this doesn't completely do it justice, if I had to describe this device in just a few words I would say this: “It’s a slightly smaller, ‘nub-less’,... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 28, 2006 2:26:57 PM

» Palm Treo 680 Reviews: from Office Mobility Blog
As of yet we haven’t really commented on Palm’s new Treo 680. While this doesn't completely do it justice, if I had to describe this device in just a few words I would say this: “It’s a slightly smaller, ‘nub-less’,... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 30, 2006 10:27:27 AM

» Palm Treo 680 Reviews: from Office Mobility Blog
As of yet we haven’t really commented on Palm’s new Treo 680. While this doesn't completely do it justice, if I had to describe this device in just a few words I would say this: “It’s a slightly smaller, ‘nub-less’,... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 17, 2007 10:46:43 AM



Comments

1
by Guy Bjerke | Nov 23, 2006 3:19:57 PM

I'm looking forward to the Treo 680. It doesn't need to be light years better than the 650 - just better. I bought my 650 from Palm while still an AT&T customer - so I'm Cingular Blue and now can't use Office Online anymore because Cingular stopped supporting it. To use ExpressMail I need to change phones - but why make a lateral move to another 650 when a new version is just around the corner? Glad to see the corner is just ahead and look forward to learning from your posts.

2
by N2GJ | Nov 23, 2006 5:33:15 PM

Just got my Cingular 680 yesterday (1 of 2 they had at my dealer in the Quakerbridge Mall in NJ). I know I played with it a LOT today (demos at T-Day dinner) but it seemed like the battery life may be a bit less than my trusty 650. Anyone else with reporst welcome. I also miss my combo Palm Pen Stylus...as reported elsewhere, the 650 styli are incompatible with the slot in the 680. Otherwise, this thing kicks butt while web browsing and downloading apps!

3
by brandon | Nov 23, 2006 7:08:50 PM

@ andrew - dude, 4 680's? planning to make a little cash on the side? wanna sell the copper one? ;)

4
by Munirudeen | Nov 23, 2006 8:02:05 PM

I think that I would be amongst those who will not upgrade to 680. Given that a new firmware will be made available early 2007, the only reason that I will change is to satisfy my innerself. The external SIM card holder is an important feature for me, As a regular traveller,I swap sim cards very often, removing the battery each time will be an annoying exercise. Although the antenna is obviously big, but it is a safeguard protection when the phone drops. The phone dropped several time, but lucky it felt on the antenna. On the same line, the position of the memory card isnt well secured, when the phone drops, chances that the memory will fly is high. It has happened to me several times....(inthe car) //I love Palm OS, and 'm patiently waiting for a Palm OS 3G, meanwhile my treo 650 is serving me v well.

5
by Doug Boehme | Nov 23, 2006 8:53:08 PM

I considered waiting for the 750p (yes, I know it hasn't been announced) but my Treo 650 is dying so I need a replacement asap. Already ordered a white one...

With any luck, this 680 will last until the Linux based Treos come out.

6
by sclim | Nov 23, 2006 9:03:11 PM

Have been a curious follower for years: a wannabe Treonaut if you will. I live in Alberta, (Western Canada) where the local GSM network takes months if not years to offer new Treo models available in US. Every time I want to bite, a new model is announced, you know the drill. In this case the 680 might be a reasonable holding pattern if you have a bunch of the old style SD cards that you can still use. But I don't. So, my question is, would it not make sense for me to hold out for the "real thing" 750. I assume I can get a relative in England to get me an unlocked GSM 750 and that my local GSM network would let me use it. Then I wouldn't have a bunch of full size SD cards from the 680 to throw away. Any news on a Palm OS GSM 750, if ever?

7
by tgwaste | Nov 24, 2006 1:39:07 AM

Just ordered my unlocked 680 on wed. cant wait to get it, and am really hoping they start shipping tomorrow. 3 times I have given up the treo (650) for a WM phone (latest being the HTC TyTN).. and while the WM phone(s) had a lot of features and bells and whistles, 3 times now I have sold them and have gone back to the treo (where I think I will finally stay). The treo is just a _special_ phone. Now.. Seido.. PLEASE make an extended battery which im sure we will all buy in a second!

-take care and love your treo.. :)

8
by Fred | Nov 24, 2006 4:01:39 AM

I'm planning to buy a 680 to replace my trusty 600, but I think I'll wait a few months to be sure the bugs have left the nest.
I'm looking forward to a much better screen, more internal memory, nicer form, and (I hope) better reception here in Europe. Oh, and bluetooth.
Color? That's a tough one.

9
by Mike | Nov 24, 2006 7:29:18 AM

Have been a Treo 650 user for over a year now, and the only "concrete" advantages the 680 and 700p seem to have over the 650 are 1) more internal memory for applications (which if you are a bit more meticulous and have an SD card for your 650 you can get more than your mileage worth with the 23 mb available...personally the increased amount will probably just breed user sloppiness on how they install and manage apps on their smartphone) and 2) better camera (which if you are using your treo camera as your main camera in your life you have more issues than can be discussed..lol, but the camera on the 650 is more than adequate to take pics of those fun spontaneous moments where no one has a camera, or to take photos of an car accident scene, etc.)

Thus I cannot see the benefit of upgrading to either when I can still make my 650 do whatever the 680 and 700p can do (except for the more than one bluetooth device, but I do not find myself ever needing 2 at a time. I do not use my treo as a GPS solution, Google maps is more than adequate for me, so I have the freedom to use my bluetooth headset).

Now if my 650 were to break or if I was a new customer looking to dive into the Treo world, then by all means I can see why the 680 and 700p are attractive phones. But to upgrade for upgrading sakes, I just dont think the 680 and 700p offer anough of a technological "leap" to make me want to throw out my 650. Just my 2 cents, but either way, I think the Treo line is DA BOMB and are way cooler than anything else out there (motorola Q's and Blackberries, etc)

Happy Turkey Day!

10
by jayhoward | Nov 24, 2006 7:56:46 AM

I have to say I'm in the same boat as those who feel there's not a compelling or overwhelming need to dump their 650 for a 680. The low-resolution screen and lack of bluetooth in the 600 made upgrading to the 650 a no-brainer, not to mention improved performance. For those who are still using a 600, I would of course say run, don't walk, to get a 680. However, with my 650 still very much alive and kicking the 680 won't have me losing any sleep. Of course, if you have bucks to blow or someone wants to buy you a nice Christmas present, why not have the best and the latest?

11
by SJ | Nov 24, 2006 8:19:07 AM

I'm going to keep my Treo 650 for awhile. The new features on the Treo 680 are really not worth upgrading for. Document access is built in on the 680, but I already have the Dataviz applications loaded on my device. Also, Cingular allows users to be on their MediaNet 19.99 plan on the Treo 650. If you upgrade to the Treo 680, you must be on their 39.99 data connect plan. This really doesn;t make a lot of sense, because the data rates on the two phones are very similar - ie the 680 is not a 3G phone. The only thing I really like about the 680 is the antennaless form factor. If my 650 dies a miserable death, then I will obviously upgrade to the 680 :)

12
by Benny | Nov 24, 2006 10:59:46 AM

Andrew: Thanks for this post. I look forward to the rest of the review.

Couple of things. Not sure if people saw this, but apparently the Library of Congress has lifted the ban on cell phone locks, so one may legally remove the lock on their phone (granted they have the code). Not sure how true it is or what will come of it, but here's the link.

http://www.engadgetmobile.com/2006/11/23/copyright-office-rules-that-consumers-can-legally-unlock-cellpho/

Also, regarding Cingular data plans, I've seemingly learned that while your phone should work with a "lesser" data plan (Medianet, Smartphone Connect), you're not supposed to use it. However, while Cingular could moniter this, they don't do so actively, which makes since given the amount of data that would need to be audited. See link below (thanks to Bob for sending me the link).

www.gadgetech.info/wireless/cingular/data/

Finally, I'll throw in my two cents for all those who are not upgrading. I used to be a Treo 600 user, which I bought in 1/04 (it was handspring at the time). Overall it was a good phone, except one major flaw: it had an internal battery. Once the battery started to go, it interfered with the reception of the phone where callers could hear a humming noise. Unfortunately, I couldn't upgrade to the 650, so I swallowed my pride and went to a dumb phone (Nokia 6102) in 10/05. Now the screen has broke on that one, and instead of replacing it, I'm moving to the 680.

13
by Benny | Nov 24, 2006 11:15:45 AM

One more question for anyone who can answer it. When you order the 680 through palm you get a Mobile Music Pack for free. Does anyone know what that is?

14
by Fred | Nov 24, 2006 11:28:03 AM

If you're planning to buy a 680 from Europe, you might want to check out www.expansys.com and then go to your country's site. They have it for 475 euros.
(I have no connection to this site except that I got my 600 from them.)

15
by mark | Nov 24, 2006 11:30:18 AM

I take serious issue with the use of the word "upgrade" with respect to the Treo 680. For *most* current Treo users, the 680 is not really an upgrade at all. It's the new, "entry level" Treo. But it certainly doesn't "out-feature" the 650 in any significant way. So while it may be a new model, it's actually a step backwards -- at least for 650 owners. So why do people (including the author of this blog) keep using the word "upgrade" when referring to it?

16
by Dave P | Nov 24, 2006 11:40:42 AM

From Palm:

The Mobile Music Pack includes:
• FREE Palm 1GB Memory Card Add memory to carry even more of your favorite songs, playlists, and podcasts4.
• FREE Palm Hybrid Headset This headset doubles as stereo headphones for your MP3 files.
• FREE Palm Treo 680 Music CD Includes Pocket Tunes™ Deluxe and FREE 30-day trial of Yahoo! Music Unlimited To Go5.

17
by Andrew | Nov 24, 2006 11:43:46 AM

Mark + others not considering the Treo 680 an 'Upgrade' product:

I agree that the Treo 680 may not have hundreds of new features compared to the Treo 650 but I completely maintain that this is a very worthy upgrade. Hopefully the remaining parts of my review will help to adequately demonstrate this.

Cheers, A.

18
by Rob_G | Nov 24, 2006 11:54:41 AM

#13 Here is a link to more info about the free Mobile Music Pack. I didn't realize it includes 2.5mm headphones, a CD, & a 1 gig SD card. I have a two gig already, but it will be nice for the wife's Nintendo Wii.

Has anyone heard anything more on the new Treo supporting A2DP out of the box? I downloaded the manual and there is no mention of it. Looks like I need to buy Softick Audio Gateway. I know this phone has less hardware than a lot of people wanted (No Wifi, VGA camera), but why not include the 1 KB Bluetooth file that would enable it? Maybe firmware 1.1 will answer my prayers.

19
by David | Nov 24, 2006 1:39:08 PM

when they say that PTT will be included in a software update do they mean the firmware updates from plam's website or a software update only avialable on the 680's maufactured after it is released?

20
by Bearmaiden | Nov 24, 2006 1:46:03 PM

My 600 is dying. I need a headset just to hear calls (too many "drops" and the mic doesn't work) and I go through too many headsets; I spend so much money buying them that I may as well get a new phone. And I never *did* manage to be able to listen to MP3's through a headset without pressing/holding the "talk button". Despite the Palm OS upgrade, the right headphones, etc. My 600 was bought in '04, right when the 650 came out. I use T-Mobile. Which doesn't support the treo anymore. So I need to buy an unlocked phone.

But I'm hooked. I *need* my Treo; it slices, it dices, it even flambes. I use Pocket Quicken and I'd never know what was going on in my life if I didn't have my calendar. Being able to sync my data and contacts is a life-saver (I'm a freelance designer). My major major problem is I am broke... The 680 is *so* cool looking (and I'm really not a gadget-freak) and I love the "no-antennae" but $500 is a lot of cash. So the questions are:

1.) Do I buy a 650, cuz it's slightly cheaper now that cool new *pretty* 680's are out?

2.) Is eBay a safe alternative to buying a 650? Or should I buy from here :) or directly from Palm--where I can supposedly get $50 back if I trade in the old one?

3.) Can I really just swap out my t-mobile SIM card by myself into a new Treo, or is it more complicated than that?

4.) On the 650, does the MP3 player really play through the stereo headphones?

TIA

21
by odm | Nov 24, 2006 3:07:36 PM

How come the unlocked 680 version is about 400 USD (about 320€) and on expansys 475€ for europeans

That means 50% more to pay for Europeans, are we such suckers ???

22
by odm | Nov 24, 2006 3:10:56 PM

with such a price let's buy the 650 and paint it the color we like at 500€ and forget the 680 !!!

23
by Brian | Nov 24, 2006 5:45:24 PM

Here's a question for you. I just picked up a new 650 last weekend because I was sick of waiting for the 680. Now, of coarse, they release it a week later.

The young lady who sold me the phone said they have a 30 day return policy if I'm not satisfied with the phone. I love the phone but really wanted the 680. Is it worth going back in and getting the 680?

I think the 650 is an awesome phone, I just wish it was smaller. I'm used to carrying around a RZR. Any and all replys are appreciated.

24
by Eric Walker | Nov 24, 2006 6:02:39 PM

Brian,

It's Murphys law. You should have waited. I hate settling for less than I want.

25
by Roth Ea | Nov 24, 2006 7:50:25 PM

Been calling around the sacramento area... no treo 680 (well until monday as i was told). Anyone in calfornia, get one yet?

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
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