Our Smartphone Stores.  Buy Accessories For Your... Blackberry Android Moto Q iPhone Centro Treo

A Future Virtual Thumbboard Treo?

UPDATE (June 12, 2007): Looking for information about the new Treo 800 form-factor?  See my latest post Treo 800w New Treo Form Factor First Images!

As we’ve discussed in the past and as Ed Colligan, palmOne’s CEO, reiterated in the recent earnings conference call it is evident that there will at some point in the future be a ‘Treo Family’ of smartphones with different form factors and software which will appeal to new segments.

The existing winning design and form factor of the Treo 650 will likely continue to exist for some time to come – albeit with some minor modifications such as the removal of the external antenna for example.  What will the rest of the Treo family smartphones look like?

So far, the two most popular alternative designs that we’ve explored have been of a ‘Treo 710’ (left below) which consists of a slightly wider version of our Treo 650 that would provide for a slightly enhanced keyboard and the ‘Treo 810’ (right below) with a large (480x320) screen and a sliding keyboard.

For a while there has also been a ‘Treo 800’ design circulating around the web but which neither I nor too many others ever seemed to warm to because it didn’t have a keyboard.  However, my negative thoughts about a possible future ‘keyboard-less’ Treo were dramatically changed this weekend when I came across the ‘Thumbboard’ project at Tapland.

This Thumbboard project has developed the first usable virtual keyboard for large screen PalmOS devices that I’ve come across.  Although it was originally developed for the Tapwave Zodiac, support was recently added for palmOne’s new LifeDrive on which I had the opportunity to test it (below).

Leaving aside the fact that this is a very early iteration of the software (pre-alpha) and that it is therefore still very buggy, Thumbboard’s virtual keyboard proved surprisingly easy, fast and accurate to use – something which was quite a surprise on the one hand because I thought that the input error rate would likely be very high but which on the other should not be all that surprising considering that it is over 50% wider than the one on our Treo.

Sure there are still a hundred things to work out (for example the black keys on black background is not the best) and Thumbboard which currently works only in widescreen mode will not be appropriate for all the situations where you might need or want a keyboard.  However, for simple email and SMS for example it will prove to be a perfect solution.  More importantly, I think that Thumbboard now makes the whole idea of a keyboard-less Treo 800 (below) a much more realistic prospect.

I will certainly be following very closely and with much interest Thumbboard’s developments in the coming months…

Finally, previously a very large number of Treonauts voted that they would buy a wider ‘Treo 700’ or sliding keyboard ‘Treo 810’ if it were available today.  How do you feel about this keyboard-less Thumbboard-enabled ‘Treo 800’?


Treonauts on the Treo 800
Would you buy one?



Click Here to View Current Results

Thumbboard public beta release info and instructions [Tapland Forum]
Treo Zen Preview [Treonauts]

Treonauts are always exploring the future

Posted by Andrew on July 6, 2005 at 01:01 PM

Treo Zen Preview

| Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A Future Virtual Thumbboard Treo?:


by Calroth | Jul 6, 2005 8:49:13 PM

Whilst a lot of us may like the idea of a slider design or a wider Treo, keep in mind that Treonauts are not your usual Treo users, and Palm would be silly to base their design decisions purely (or maybe even partially) on what we say.

Also remember that there's a huge gap between saying that we'll buy something, and actually buying something...

by Andrew | Jul 6, 2005 8:55:21 PM

Calroth - point taken. However, I believe that Treonauts are in fact a very good representation of the market a large. Hopefully a couple of hundred more will take part in the survey and provide us with a 'statistically meaningful' result.

Cheers, A.

by Richard | Jul 6, 2005 9:49:30 PM

I'd buy a Treo if I could have the 320x480 screen and use Graffiti instead of a keyboard. The fact that I'm forced to use a keyboard has pushed me to look at Windows Mobile devices instead, which is something I always swore I'd never do.

by Rudy | Jul 7, 2005 12:13:17 AM

It seems to me that the holy grail right now is a 480x320 display AND integrated thumboard. Not taking away from the design of the Treo 810 that you have, but personally I'd rather have the thumboard on the outside and have it slide/flip downwards to reveal the extra screen space.

If the keyboard were underneath, I'm sure we wouldn't get the raised keys that makes it so much easier to use the small thumboard on our Treo 600/650s. Also, having a 320x320 display plus a thumboard readily accessible at all times HAS to be the default since it offers the best compromise in terms of quickness & usability. The Treo's thumboard is one of the best features of our Treos so let's not marginalise it by hiding it underneath the screen.

IMO, palmOne would do good to emulate the flip-keypad design of the Sony Ericsson P900, where the thumboard is in front and flips down to reveal extra display.

by Jeff | Jul 12, 2005 3:51:55 PM

Is it worth it to upgrade to a 650 now or is a new version on the horizon?

by Andrew | Jul 12, 2005 6:11:52 PM

Jeff - it's unlikely that a new Treo will become available before December or early 2006 at the soonest (at least those are the widely reported rumors).

Cheers, A.

by Gregory | Oct 11, 2006 6:58:14 PM

All this is great but I hope they (Palm) are thinking "thin" like the moto-Q. Would love to have a thin Treo w/ a palm os. Moto Q runs on Windows mobile... it is a joke.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Footer graphic
©2006 Treonauts.com | Subscribe to the Treonauts Blog RSS Feed


Treo Blog
Treo Forum
Treo Accessories Store
Treo Software Store


iPhone Blog
iPhone Accessories Guide
iPhone Accessories Store
iPhone Software Store


Centro Forum
Centro Accessories Guide
Centro Accessories Store
Centro Software Store