Treo 800w Review
New Palm Treo 800w Review Reveals Powerful Enterprise-Class Smartphone With Terrific Hardware Specifications, Ultrafast 3G & WiFi Data Connectivity + Built-in GPS
My Treo 800w review consists of two parts. The first one here today provides you with a detailed overview and my take on the Treo 800w hardware (external and internal) as well as its accessories (bundled and other). My second one in the coming days will focus exclusively on the Treo 800w software on Windows Mobile 6.1.
Overall, below you will be able to quickly appreciate that I have been extremely impressed (somewhat surprisingly) with the capabilities of the Treo 800w providing a rating of 8.5/10 for the external specs, 9/10 for the internal specs and 8/10 for the bundled accessories. To be honest the hardware specifications are so good that I would have been jumping through the roof if this had been a Palm OS or NOVA OS device (not expected before early 2009 while a Verizon Treo 800w is anticipated by September this year)…
Treo 800w Hardware (External) – Rating 8.5/10
Overall Look & Feel (Form-Factor, Size & Weight) – 7/10
Although the Sprint Treo 800w offers a wealth of improvements over previous Windows Mobile smartphones from Palm the fact is that for the most part the look and feel has remained pretty much unchanged – anybody who has seen a Treo before will simply not have to wonder what device this is.
Having said this, the Treo 800w has gone on a serious and very visible diet. It is a full 0.17 inches (0.43 cm) thinner and 1.46 oz (41 grams) lighter than the Treo 700w|wx that it replaces – plus it thankfully also no longer has the protruding antenna.
Overall, although the Treo 800w is not necessarily the prettiest thing that you’ll ever look at there is nonetheless no doubt that the lighter weight and much slimmer form-factor combined with a soft touch rubberized paint make this smartphone feel extremely good in both your hands and pocket.
Keyboard – 9/10
The Treo 800w borrows freely from the keyboard found on the AT&T Treo 750. It uses the same hard material but with the important distinction that the keys are a bit larger (by about 10%) and more closely aligned (51mm versus 54mm total width) which makes it even easier to type quickly.
Overall, although I would have liked to see the Treo 800w sport a large version of the terrific Centro keyboard, the one here is nonetheless undoubtedly one of the best ones to be found on any smartphone today and in my opinion always a _much_ better choice than any “on-screen” keyboard out there (read iPhone…).
5Way & Navigation Buttons – 9/10
Like the Centro, the 5Way and navigations buttons on the Treo 800w have been “flattened”. This delivers not only a much cleaner and more elegant look but also an easier and more rewarding tactile experience.
The fact that Palm has now added two dedicated buttons for Calendar and eMail as well as placed the two softkeys at the bottom of the screen combine to make it even easier and faster to use this Windows Mobile smartphone.
Ringer Switch & WiFi Button – 10/10
The superbly practical Palm ringer switch that so quickly and easily allows you to silence your smartphone at the top of the device is now combined with an equally useful and practical dedicated WiFi button that allows you to turn this function On/Off with a simple press.
High-Resolution Touchscreen – 8/10
The Treo 800w is the first Windows Mobile Palm smartphone for a CDMA network with a 320 x 320 pixels high-resolution color touchscreen and there is no doubt that this makes a huge difference to enhance your overall experience using any application.
The level of detail that the screen renders is stunning (you should enable ClearType) and thanks to this the everyday interaction with your device feels both rich and modern – particularly with graphically rich applications such as the superb and in my opinion essential Spb Mobile Shell that truly enhance your experience.
The only reason that my rating of the touchscreen doesn’t get a 10/10 is simply that I’m tired of the recessed look. It’s true that most people have absolutely no issue with this and actually consider it to be an advantage (as they feel it offers better protection for their screen) but for me the recessed screen feels antiquated. With nearly all modern touchscreen smartphones sporting a flush screen I feel that it’s time for the Treo to have one as well.
Side Buttons – 10/10
The two buttons on the left side to control volume and open one of your favourite applications (you can assign any one you like) have always been perfectly placed in the most ergonomically logical place – quickly and easily within reach of one of your fingers. Additionally, the application side button now has a little dot protruding to enable you to find it more easily by touch alone.
Micro USB Sync & Charge Port – 9/10
On the one hand the new standard Micro USB port on the Treo 800w provides a much better and considerably more elegant sync & charge solution than the previous proprietary system used by Palm while on the other it will surely annoy a few.
On the positive side is the fact that the previous dedicated audio + sync + charge ports have now been combined into a single all-in-one Micro USB solution and that USB 2.0 transfers and synchronisation appear to be much more speedy.
On the negative side is the fact that in oder to for example simultaneously use a corded headset (a very good one is bundled with your Treo 800w) while also charging your smartphone you will need a separate adapter.
Overall though I am extremely happy with the new standard Micro USB port – it offers simple connections to your Treo 800w chargers (such as wall or car) as well as fast data transfers for all your synchronisation needs.
Speakers, Speakerphone & Microphone – 10/10
Palm’s design team has clearly learned from flaws that plagued the speakers and microphone of previous first-generation models. On the Treo 800w inbound and outbound calls are loud and clear (the microphone is now placed at the front instead of the bottom) while the back speaker offers extremely robust volume for both speakerphone calls and music for example.
Memory Expansion Slot & IR Port– 10/10
Although I love my Palm Centro its hard-to-reach memory expansion slot has always annoyed me. However, on the Treo 800w version the memory card slot and door (located on the right side of the device at the bottom) finally offer a very easily accessible opening for your microSD cards (I used a SanDisk 8GB microSDHC without any problem) while ensuring that it will not accidentally open and release your card (as could happen with the Treo 700w|wx).
At the same time, Palm continues to conveniently include an IR port on your Treo to facilitate the “beaming” of applications and files.
Stylus – 7/10
The standard plastic Treo 800w stylus is perhaps the most disapppointing (albeit quite minor) component – it’s light and bends too easily which combine to feel not particularly great in your hand. It would have been much better if Palm could have used an aluminium model or harder plastic version.
On the plus side, the housing of the stylus has now been moved from the back to the side which provides a much more discreet access and a cleaner, more elegant and uncluttered overall look for your device.
Battery & Battery Door – 8/10
The Treo 800w battery is exactly the same 1150mAh version as that found on the Centro – thus delivering very similar and quite reasonable talk time (4 hours) and standby time (200 hours) performance.
The battery door for its part is extremely sturdy and locks solidly in place when closed (no movement at all) which adds to the overall robust feeling of the Treo 800w in your hands (I think that this is the best door iteration yet by Palm).
Treo 800w Hardware (Internal) – 9/10
Processor – 9/10
Thanks to a fast +TI OMAP 2431 processor the Treo 800w delivers an incredibly responsive experience with no perceptible lag and most early feedback points to this smarpthone being the fastest Windows Mobile device on the market today – something which has naturally delighted buyers.
EV-DO – 10/10
There’s really not much to say here aside from the fact that the high-speed broadband capabilities that EV-DO Rev A. delivers with the Treo 800w is absolutely terrific and a joy to use with any application requiring a data connection. This alone probably makes the Treo 800w worth buying.
WiFi – 9/10
Finally a Treo with built-in WiFi. Although the wait was long (understatement) the fact is nonetheless that the Palm team has gone the extra mile to make this WiFi implementation on the Treo 800w extremely intuitive and fast to use. I was up and running in under five minutes and the added convenience of the dedicated On/Off WiFi button at the top was a very welcome bonus.
GPS – 9/10
Here again the Treo 800w is the first Palm smartphone to benefit from a built-in GPS chipset and it’s one of the best out there using the much better AGPS (Assisted GPS) system that delivers faster location acquisition, uses less processing power saving battery life and also allows for indoor location acquisition.
Thanks to Palm’s integration of Points of Interest (POI) directly in the Today Screen it means that you can quickly find a destination within a few clicks. Additionally, full-featured Maps and a standalone Sprint Navigation program give you plenty more options to navigate using GPS.
Memory – 9/10
With 128MB program memory (DDR) and 256MB user memory (approximately 170MB available) the Treo 800w offers plenty of space to accomodate all the Windows Mobile software that you may need as well as your files (you can always add even more thanks to the convenient microSD memory slot).
The combination of available memory and fast processor undoubtedly combine to make the Treo 800w a very speedy and responsive smartphone.
Modem – 9/10
As with previous devices, the Treo 800w can be used as a high-speed modem for your laptop using the included USB cable or via Bluetooth and thanks to access to Sprint’s EV-DO Rev A. wireless data network it offers superb speeds to work connected to the web while on the go (additional service charges may apply).
Installation is fairly straightforward and the software for this is included in the package (please note that you must simply be within EvDo wireless coverage to use it).
Bluetooth 2.0 + A2DP – 10/10
I’m a big fan of all sorts of Bluetooth accessories and thanks to its Bluetooth 2.0 implementation the Treo 800w allows fast and easy wireless connectivity with headsets, speakerphones and stereo headphones.
Camera & Video – 8/10
The enhanced 2.0 megapixel (1600x1200) camera and video on the Treo 800w delivers very good pictures and I particularly like the fact that the application offers multiple Modes, Resolution, Brightness and Zoom among others.
As with any camera taking the perfect shot or video is a matter of getting used to the individual settings but the Treo 800w is certainly more than capable to take perfectly decent images for even the average user who just wants a quick snapshot.
The images above illustrate a picture taken with the Treo 800w (on the left) compared to one taken with a 10.0 megapixel Canon G7 at the same 1600x1200 resolution. There is no doubt that the Canon takes brighter and better pictures but you’ll have to remember that this is a huge camera that also happens to cost nearly $500.
Wireless Radio – 9/10
There’s really nothing to fault with the Digital Dual-Band (1900mHz and 800mHz) CDMA radio found inside the Treo 800w aside from the fact that it can be used primarily only in the US. If like me you plan to travel internationally on a frequent basis then you’ll need to ensure you have a spare GSM phone at hand.
Having said this, there is no doubt (for now at least) that the high-speed wireless broadband capabilities that the CDMA network from both Sprint and Verizon deliver in the US considerably make up for the relative deficiency of international mobility.
Treo 800w Accessories (Bundled) – 8/10
Palm Stereo Headset – 9/10
People might complain about the new microUSB connector but Palm has nonetheless made up for this by bundling an excellent stereo headset in the box that offers a built-in microphone, headset button (for Call Answer/End) and powerful quality speakers.
USB Cable – 8/10
The long, thick and solid included USB cable is not the prettiest (I personally prefer a retractable S&C cable) but it nonetheless offers fast synchronisation and conveniently also allows you to charge your Treo 800w via a spare USB port at your PC.
Wall Charger – 7/10
The included light and small wall charger will prove ideal for the frequent traveller but I was disappointed to see that it only works under 120V and not the standard dual 120/240V which would allow you to use your charger in Europe for example.
Treo 800w Accessories (Other)
As I mentioned earlier, the Treo 800w is compatible with all Bluetooth accessories including wireless Bluetooth headsets (such as my favourite New Jawbone) and Bluetooth speakerphones (such as the Jabra SP5050). Thanks to Bluetooth 2.0 you can also use a Stereo Bluetooth Headset (such as the Motorola S9) that is A2DP-enabled to listen to MP3 files while on the go. However, you cannot use a mono Bluetooth headset to listen to MP3 files.
Additionally, Palm lists the following Treo 800w accessories recommendations to purchase:
- Vehicle Power Charger: A charger that enables you to charge your Treo in your vehicle using the car lighter socket.
- Replacement Battery: A backup battery that you can use if your primary battery becomes drained, is charging, or has reached the end of its useful life.
- Battery Charger: A charger that enables you to charge a spare battery.
- USB Sync Cable: A replacement or spare cable (your Treo comes with one USB sync cable).
- Extra AC Charger: A 100-to-240-volt AC charger for your Treo.
- Palm Treo 800 Power/Audio Adapter: An adapter that enables you to charge your Treo and use a wired headset at the same time.
- MicroUSB/3.5mm adapter: An adapter that enables you to connect a wired headset with a 3.5mm connector to your Treo.
- International Travel Adapters: Snap-on adapters that enable you to use the Extra AC charger in continental Europe, the United Kingdom, and Australia. (For use with the Extra AC Charger only.)
- A Treo Case: such as the SPE P6 Pouch Case and Palm Leather Side Case With Belt Clip which both offer a case that you can clip to your belt or bag and that provides quick access to and protection for your Treo.
- Stylus: A replacement or spare stylus for your Treo.
Please note that more Treo 800w accessories will become available soon as more manufacturers release products specifically designed for this new smartphone.
Treonauts are always very thorough…