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Treo Pro Review

New Palm Treo Pro Review Reveals Stunningly Beautiful “Super Hot” Smartphone With Excellent Ultraslim Form-Factor, Terrific Hardware Design & Specifications, Ultrafast 3G & WiFi Data Connectivity & GPS

Treo Pro Review

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the release of the high-end enterprise-class Palm Treo Pro has literally stunned me and been a complete revelation – I would probably have to go back to the Treo 600 some four years ago to match the level of excitement that I have felt since getting this smartphone in my hands.  I absolutely love my existing very trusted Centro and the Palm OS but I can already tell you that it’s going to be nearly impossible for me not to switch to the Treo Pro as it offers such a huge leap in performance and mobile experience.

From a hardware perspective alone the Treo Pro is undoubtedly exactly the device that Treonauts have been waiting for years to get as it meets almost every single design and specifications criteria that we’ve wanted.  In this respect, the Treo Pro smartphone highlights the single most important milestone yet in Palm’s ongoing corporate transformation and opens a completely new door to a much brighter future. 

From a software perspective there is no doubt that the major sticking point for many (particularly existing Palm OS users) will be the Windows Mobile operating system that the Treo Pro runs.  The fact is that my experience has shown that Windows Mobile has come a long way and become increasingly more “friendly” and usable.  The key point however is the fact that the stunning hardware design of the Treo Pro is finally giving me the energy to make the switch to WinMo – I’m basically willing to compromise a little to gain access to all the many other benefits this smartphone offers.

Treo Pro

More importantly still is the fact that the Treo Pro design engenders a level of passion that had almost completely disappeared from Palm smartphones in recent years – there isn’t a single person that I have shown it to (devout BlackBerry and iPhone fans alike) that didn’t feel good holding it in their hands.  Where it previously often appeared that narrow-minded accountants were in charge of design at Palm it’s clear that energetic and passionate artists have now thankfully firmly taken over.  The Treo Pro is the first Palm smartphone in years that can proudly stand tall on its two feet without the need of crutches.

A perfect example of how quickly the Treo Pro appears to already have won the hearts and imagination of Treonauts is the result of our recent “Is the Treo Pro hot or not?” poll below.  Not only has the poll now broken past the 1,000 votes but even more importantly in the last seven days the balance has steadily increased in favour of a “Super Hot” rating from 40% to 50% (more than statistically relevant) while the combined overall positive “Hot” rating is now a staggering 92%.

New Palm Treo Pro

Is the Treo Pro hot or not?    Treo-Pro

Super Hot
Very Hot
Hot
Not
  Current Results

Within this rather cheerful context, let me now take you through a closer look at exactly where and why the Treo Pro is so Super Hot.

Treo Pro Hardware (External) – Rating 9.5/10

Overall Look & Feel (Form-Factor, Size & Weight) – 9/10
At long last the Treo Pro delivers a completely revamped form-factor design which is ultraslim (so thin it actually fits in an iPhone case) and ultraslick with a smooth black casing – it’s basically the coolest looking smartphone Palm has produced to date (even when you can’t see its full form in total darkness below) and may very well be the near perfect form-factor for any keyboard + touchscreen smartphone.

Treo Pro - Backlight

As I mentioned in my Treo Pro Preview, it looks a bit like a high-tech polished black pebble – a Zen of tranquility on the outside but one that also happens to be bursting with energy inside (thanks to a fast processor, 3G data, WiFi, GPS and a whole lot more).  The whole smartphone just seems to be made of one piece as opposed to glued together from different parts.

One very minor issue is the fact that because the Treo Pro is so shiny and black it has the habit of visibly accumulating your fingerprints both on the screen and at the back.  This is quickly remedied by keeping a Microfiber Cleaning Cloth in your pocket and I have to admit that I’ve actually developed a particular pleasure polishing my Treo Pro every so often and bringing it back to its full shine.

High-Resolution Touchscreen – 9/10
The Treo Pro also finally offers Palm’s first flush crisp high-resolution (320x320 pixels) touchscreen and it’s evident that this makes a huge difference both for the overall look and feel of this smartphone as well as more importantly how much easier it makes it to get to even the smallest icons and corners.

Treo Pro - Touchscreen

Thanks to the much easier access to the full touchscreen Palm has for example now been able to remove the physical “soft buttons” found on other Windows Mobile devices as you can now simply and quickly use the on-screen buttons instead.  The actual full-size 320x320 screenshot taken from my Treo Pro above should help you to get an impression for how good and crisp its display is.

In terms of screens, the next step for Palm will be the introduction at some point in the future of either a 480x320 or 480x480 resolution screen but for now this one certainly doesn’t get any complaints from me (aside the fact that it could be just a bit brigther).

5Way & Navigation Buttons – 9/10
I particularly like the fact that in addition to the new flush touchscreen Palm’s designers have maintained the same smoothness with the main four Start, OK, Calendar and Messaging buttons while slightly raising and rounding the left green Phone/Send and right red Power/End buttons (which are both made from a clear hard resin).

Treo Pro - Navigation Buttons

At the same time, the redesigned round 5Way button at the center remains as good and easy to use as before and there is also conveniently no need for the physical soft buttons as the flush touchscreen is so immediately accessible (Contacts + Internet areas above).

Keyboard – 9/10
Some people have argued that the use of the same Centro keyboard design on the Treo Pro was somehow “inferior” but I strongly disagree.  Not only is the keyboard here a full 10% wider but the “bouncy” rubber keys (below right) offer excellent tactile response and Palm has also ensured that the Space bar is a harder plastic.  Overall even with my big hands I had absolutely no difficulties whatsoever typing (either in daylight or in total darkness thanks to the backlight).

Treo Pro Keyboard

At the same time, I cannot stress enough the benefits of having a physical full QWERTY keyboard compared to a device that has an on-screen virtual keyboard.  In this respect it is also worth remembering that this Treo Pro is the only high-end smartphone that offers an all-in-one touchscreen + full front keyboard + 3G + WiFi + GPS (BlackBerry Bold for example has no touchscreen and iPhone has no keyboard).

 Treo Pro - Keyboard Treo Pro - Keyboard Detail

Ringer Switch & Power Button – 10/10
In addition to the always ultra-convenient ringer switch button at the top of your device (basically a slider that quickly silences your smartphone when you’re in a meeting or another place where you don’t want to suddenly disturb others with your ringtone or alarms) there is now also a dedicated Power button that quickly and equally conveniently switches just your screen off (press once) or all phone, data and WiFi connections (press and hold for a couple of seconds).

Treo Pro - Ringer Switch + Power

Side Buttons – 10/10
In the meantime, Palm’s designers have so elegantly merged the side buttons into the device that you would hardly know they’re there (they’re almost completely flush).  As before, on the left of your smartphone you’ll find the volume Up/Down buttons as well as one dedicated button that can be assigned to launch any application that you like (the default is Camera).

Treo Pro - Side Buttons

At the same time, the right side of your Treo Pro smartphone now offers both a deidcated WiFi button (press once to quickly switch it On/Off or press+hold to open your WiFi connections) as well as the IR port.

MicroUSB Sync & Charge + Stereo Port – 9/10
There are two other welcome additions on the Treo Pro.  The first one is the use of a more convenient high-speed microUSB Sync & Charge connector (uses USB 2.0) and the second is the use of an even more convenient 3.5mm headset port which now means that you’ll be able to plug any one of the thousands of standard high-quality headsets available without the need for a 2.5mm stereo adapter.

Treo Pro - Ports

Speakers, Speakerphone & Microphone – 10/10
Even though the Treo Pro back speaker is visibly smaller (a good thing from a design perspective) and therefore not as powerful as on previous Treo or Centro smartphones the fact is nonetheless that the volume that it generates is more than loud enough to listen to music and engage in speakerphone calls.

    

Above you will find a short audio sample from a call that I made testing both the on-board Treo Pro microphone as well as its rather good built-in speakerphone.

Memory Expansion Slot – 9/10
I’ve always loved the solid memory card expansion capabilities that Treo smartphones offers and the Treo Pro provides a microSDHC slot that I happily use with my existing 8GB cards (it supports up to 32GB).  The slot is accessible by just removing the back cover and thankfully not under the battery but easily within reach on the side.

Stylus – 9/10
A welcome addition is that Palm has finally reintroduced a solid metal stylus as standard with the Treo Pro.  It appears that previous rumours that the metal stylus might interfere with the Treo radio may have been true and this is also why presumably Palm has now placed the stylus at the bottom as opposed to the top of the device.

Treo Pro Stylus

Battery & Back Cover – 9/10
Although the Treo Pro is already ultraslim you don’t realize just how small it is until you remove both the back cover and the battery (image below) – you’re left wondering how anybody could have crammed such a powerful smartphone with a touchscreen and full keyboard into such a small device.

Treo Pro - Back Cover & Battery

The huge and powerful 1500mAh battery which provides a very healthy five hours of talk time (PCMag actually claims 7 hours 8 minutes continuous talk time!) appears to take up some 40% of the space on its own.  At the same time, I really like the introduction of a full back cover as you now get a beautifully smooth surface instead of one interrupted by the half battery cover used previously.  It’s true that the cover can sometimes prove a little difficult to remove but here again I’m willing to dismiss this in favour of the design benefits it offers.

Overall, I have to admit that before the release of the Treo Pro I had come to seriously doubt Palm’s engineering and design capabilities to deliver such an ultraslim and full-featured device – wondering aloud if the company would ever be able to regain its position among the smartphone elite now dominated by the BlackBerry and iPhone.  Thanks to the wonderful Treo Pro my answer is now a categorical and very firm “Yes! I believe that Palm can do it.”

NOTE: Please check back tomorrow as I will continue this Treo Pro review with more information and my take on the internal hardware and bundled accessories.

In the meantime please see more Treo Pro information from previous posts below (ranked chronologically):
Treo Pro Preview
Treo Pro Now Official
Treo Pro Images & Specifications
Treo Pro Briefly Unveiled

Treonauts are always super hot


Posted by Andrew on August 27, 2008 at 12:46 PM

Treo Pro

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Comments

26
by dmm | Sep 14, 2008 11:28:35 AM

Btw, I've found what looks to be a good sync option (for PC/non-Outlook users, anyway): Thunderbird and BirdieSync. I'm planning on trying it once I order a Pro (and I'm not sure yet how quickly that will happen).

I'm also eager to see Fennec (Mozilla's mobile version of Firefox, named for the smallest species of fox) once there's a beta version out.

27
by Albert | Sep 21, 2008 5:14:39 PM

It is shipping starting on the 23rd in the U.S.

Source: The Palm Store Rep I spoke to when I bought my phone.

28
by Dan | Sep 26, 2008 4:21:31 PM

got mine this morning - posted more in-depth impressions in the forums. Some highlights:
very sleek, bright and light. Buttons are a little on the small side, but not difficult to get to.

Some difficulty getting the battery cover off and it's a little annoying that removing the cover is the only way to get to the sd slot.

All in all, it's a great phone and I'm extremely happy I got it

29
by Jamie | Sep 29, 2008 11:53:19 PM

I am considering the unwanted switch to WinMob because I am tired of waiting for a new GSM Palm release. My question is, my hesitation to switch to WinMob is becuase I have thousands of dollars worth of palm medical software on my 680. But I wonder will those programs even be compatable with the switch to Nova anyway? I was just wondering is Nova going to still be Palm or will it be a completely different OS that will make my old apps obsolete.

30
by Andrew | Oct 1, 2008 8:05:58 AM

Jamie - the good news is that thanks to an application called StyleTap http://www.styletap.com that enables PalmOS applications to run on PocketPC hardware platforms you will still be able to use most of your existing Palm OS software on the Treo Pro.

Separately, in the same vein as StyleTap, Palm has hinted that the new NOVA OS _will_ support some if not all existing Palm OS applications when released next year.

I hope this helps.

Cheers, A.

31
by hjb | Oct 16, 2008 5:32:42 AM

your super enthusiastic review lured me into buying a Treo Pro. Today, I'll send it back... The device is slim and has a great look, true. On the other hand, it has to be cleaned all the time because the shiny surface is quickly plastered with fingerprints. But what really spoils the deal is WINDOWS MOBILE. It's no exaggeration to say that it sucks! If you don't know why then you've never used a Palm OS device before.
a) The metaphor doesn't really fit the device. A start menu may be cool on a desktop machine but not on a handheld.
b) The system is too slow. For instance, if you select a calendar item on a Palm OS system, it instantly displays the details, whereas the page "builds up" half a second on a windows device.
c) The integration with outlook is ridiculous. I understand that a Palm OS device might not be capabale of syncing multiple outlook calendars, but guess what... the windows mobile device can't either. Of course the calendar features are also completely underpowered and AgendaOne seems to be a good replacement there... but it doesn't match the speed and wit of a PalmOS Agendus (which is also crappy and slow on windows mobile).

It seems the mobile situation is really wretched. Palm OS is going down, iPhones don't have hardware keys, the first Android phone looks like a 1980's brick, and sleek phones with windows mobile can only be used as status symbols and not for getting real work done.

32
by Sarang | Oct 17, 2008 7:50:53 AM

Kindly let me now if you have head to head analysis of treo pro and samsung i780 .

33
by Sniffer | Oct 20, 2008 2:49:32 PM

Has to have PALM OS for me!

34
by RK | Oct 23, 2008 2:14:16 PM

Andrew - or anyone who can be of help: I have a Treo 650 that is about to die. I'm debating between switching to BB, which I don't want to do, or waiting for one of the new Treo devices (Treo Pro or Treo 800) to become available with ATT. Any idea when this might happens? And, is there a general preference for one over the other (should ATT offer both). Thx - from a very untechy Treo user.

35
by Andrew | Oct 23, 2008 2:24:07 PM

@RK - I believe that the Treo Pro should become available on AT&T by the end of November and I definitely consider this to be my top Palm smartphone choice at the moment.

I hope this helps.

Cheers, A.

36
by Kabayan | Oct 27, 2008 6:51:58 AM

i'm still watiting for centro pro..

to me palm software still the best ( i allready tried blackberry, windows, linux,symbian) and yes, i still can't get my mind out from the simple palm.

i don't need multi tasking,what i need just a small size application with small size database with high speed data access and stable operating system.

i hoping my dream come true someday

37
by Maye | Oct 27, 2008 11:34:01 AM

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for this great review. It makes me more inclined to buy the Treo Pro. I have used Treos for at least 5 years now. I am ready to upgrade to a new phone and still prefer to move up to another Treo but I have some questions ---
1) Can the new Treo Pro be used like a Blackberry with Push Email functions?
2) Does the Treo Pro hang less than the previous Treos?
3) I am from Asia and we keep on getting advertisements of this new phone - HTC. Do you think this is better than the Treo?

Maye

38
by Frank S | Nov 7, 2008 9:44:10 AM

I am still slogging along with an unlocked Treo 650 and it works just fine. I have many medical references installed on it which I use regularly in my work as a physician. I have TomTom's excellent GPS kit (Palm GPS Navigator 2+) which has been bulletproof. Now that many medical applications are available in Windows Mobile/PocketPC format, I am seriously considering taking the leap of faith and getting an unlocked Treo Pro.

My question is, will my GPS receiver unit work with the Treo Pro GPS software? I am not interested in getting a data plan with my cellphone provider just so I can use the Pro's GPS.

Any guidance would be most appreciated!

39
by Clayton | Nov 17, 2008 2:24:19 PM

I would like to know if the Treo Pro has Internet Sharing. This is a very important feature for any power user, IMO and a deal maker or deal breaker for me!

40
by Salvatore Bonventure | Nov 17, 2008 9:04:15 PM

I'm sure this is a nice phone with some new features as Palm struggles to catch up to the rest of the market. However, it seems like bad strategy to leave the palm OS in the dust, with aging features, when many existing customers probably migrated to the Treo from a palm OS device.

Now that the devices are on Windows, why not shop around? None of your old software will work, you've got to make a complete new investment, why not check out the Iphone at less than half the price with a subscription from AT & T?

Not only will I not be buying into Palm's new strategy, I'll be selling any stock I have in this doomed company.

41
by Terence | Nov 23, 2008 9:40:54 PM

Hi Andrew!

Nice post. May I ask what Today plug-in are you using to simply show the 4 app icons in your Today screen? Thanks.

Terence

42
by Francis Enamorado | Dec 4, 2008 5:34:36 PM

Me gusta, yo solo uso palm lo que le critico a este telefono no es su sufwer me gusta es el material es muy debil se quiebra se raya con facilidad y en la parte frontal se pela el sudor lo daña, espero hayan superado esto en este diseño y me gustaria saber su precio. Gracias.

43
by ThwartedEfforts | Dec 10, 2008 11:13:18 AM

Can't say I'm excited by yet another Windows smartphone. As the months tick by, and as more phone manufacturers make the switch to Microsoft, buyers are left choosing not between important interface features but between (very similar) case designs, button positions and tactility of the QWERTY keyboard. Because when all the phones in the shop run the same operating system, what else is there bar inconsequential design features to differentiate them? What, for example, would make an existing smartphone buyer switch to a Treo Pro? A switch for the ringer? I think not. For me and many others, Palm OS was the #1 reason to get a Treo. Best not eBay my 650 just yet...

44
by John | Jan 8, 2009 6:30:46 PM

I used to love palm until I had to deal with their customer service.
Palm Pro GPS sucks..actually does not work and customer service is telling me that this is because I can not connect to the internet.
Stay away from this phone and PALM!!!

45
by FGMM | Feb 10, 2009 1:44:17 PM

CNet discusses today the potential introduction by Microsoft of Windows 6.5. (see below). What impact would this have on Treo Pro? Could we upgrade to Windows 6.5 from our current version on the Treo Pro?

Also: what do you think of the new MyPhone application?

Microsoft is gearing up to take on rival Apple in the smartphone market.

Microsoft and CEO Steve Ballmer will launch an online store for smartphone applications, a report says.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Microsoft is getting ready to launch an online marketplace akin to Apple's App Store. Microsoft is also readying a more sophisticated version of its mobile operating system called Windows Mobile 6.5, the Journal reported.
(...)

Microsoft is expected to unveil its new offerings next week at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain. Chief Executive Steve Ballmer will be delivering a keynote speech there on February 16.

On the handset and operating system side, new devices are coming to market that could provide stiff competition for Windows Mobile devices. For example, smartphone pioneer Palm is coming out with new mobile software and a device called Pre later this year. And even though critics have been writing the company's obituary for the last year, the new device, which was unveiled last month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, has been getting a lot of buzz.

(...)

The Journal also reported that Microsoft is talking about a new synchronized data storage service called My Phone. This new service is supposed to make it easier for people to back up their mobile contacts, calendar appointments, photos and text messages, to a Web site. The service is similar to a service that Apple calls MobileMe. The biggest difference will be that Microsoft will offer My Phone for free whereas Apple charges $99 a year for MobileMe.

46
by Chaim Mehlman | Feb 15, 2009 7:41:54 PM

Partly based on your sycophantic review singing the praises of the "huge and powerful" battery, I acquired a Treo Pro. Silly me. The battery lasted about 19 hours on a Sunday with no phone calls! I have yet to measure it on a busy day. The other issue is that even on full volume, calls are almost inaudible unless I turn on the speaker. Prospective buyers should be warned.

47
by Mary Ascher | Feb 19, 2009 6:07:37 PM

I just got my Treo Pro and I cannot, for the life of me, get that back cover off!!!

Any suggestions?

I've already downloaded the KB article....but still no luck!

Mary

48
by johnette stanford | Mar 19, 2009 1:11:42 PM

Ok. Need to know. Had one of the first treo that came out. Loved all of the features except for using it as a phone. People could not always hear you (easily picked up background noise) and if you were talking treo to treo forget it. I am now once again shopping for a new phone and really want all of the feature treo has to offer but need to know if the phone piece is still reporting issues

49
by ReduceGadgetEnvy | Mar 31, 2009 6:47:01 PM

This review was linked from ReduceGadgetEnvy.com.

http://www.reducegadgetenvy.com/Item.aspx?i=13

50
by Mark | Apr 22, 2009 4:02:03 PM

John wrote: "When is the PALM OS version coming out? The WinMo version is worthless for PALM users. Theapps I use as a PALM user will never be available on WinMo and if they were, they would crash. PALM VERSION NOW!"

Sorry John, there will be no more Palm OS phones!! The Centro is the last of the family... Going forward, Palm will offer Windows Mobile devices and WebOS devices only...

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
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