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Could there in fact be two Treo 670'?

This post was kindly submitted by Jeff Kirvin who makes an interesting and challenging remark.  Namely, is the hardware design of the purported Treo 670 running Windows Mobile actually also that of our own future Treo running PalmOS?  Read on.

All the Palm and Treo sites have been buzzing the last few days over the recently leaked photos and videos of the new "Treo 670" which seems to run Windows Mobile.  We've seen three grainy cell phone videos and several still photos of this device, and I have to say they look real enough to me.  That is, the device looks real. I'm still not convinced about the operating system.

Let's talk about the hardware first.  This is definitely not any Treo we've ever seen before.  The buttons and directional pad are more angular, the shape of the speaker grille on the back is different, the headphone jack and microphone hole have moved.  Personally, I like the new angular look.  If you noticed the design aesthetic of the new Chryslers and the new Mustang, you'll notice that angular is the new round.  Angles are back in. This device looks sharp and professional, and as long as the keys are still domed (pyramided?), for easy typing, I don't mind this change.  While it shares the removable battery used by the Treo 650, the release button looks a little different.  And while the videos aren't clear, the side buttons appear to be either more recessed than on the 650 or not there at all.  Is this a new Treo, or a very old one (early prototype of the 650?).

Are the videos real or a hoax?  You can make a good argument either way, making this the most intriguing UHO yet (Unidentified Handheld Object).  Again, the videos and stills are low resolution and blurry, so none of this is definitive.  In the videos, we see what appears to be a Treo booting up and running through a series of Windows Mobile screens.  At no time do we see the user interact with the screen directly, using a stylus.  Some observers have taken this as an indication that the video is a hoax.  We've seen video "proof" before that turned out to be a real Palm running a full screen video capture of a Pocket PC screen.  Might this be the same, a Treo running Core Player and showing video from an HP 6500?

Not necessarily.  The device appears to be running Windows Mobile 5.0.  One of the key enhancements in 5.0 is vastly improved one-handed navigation, code borrowed from Windows Mobile Smartphone Edition, which lacks a touch screen at all.  It would be quite possible for someone to do everything seen in the videos on a Windows Mobile 5.0 device using only the d-pad and the keyboard, just like one could on a Treo running Garnet.  Additionally, in the videos, the d-pad and keyboard are often cropped out of the shot, so we don't see what's going on down there.  So this is inconclusive.

In one shot, we clearly see a key guard dialog asking the user to press the Calendar button to unlock the device.  This dialog looks very similar to the one on the Treo 650, with the same rounded Palm OS borders (props to Tyler and James on the Palm Addicts Podcast for this).  Another tip-off that it's a fake?

Maybe not.  In Windows Mobile devices, any key guard functionality is left up to the device manufacturer; it's not provided by Microsoft.  HP and Fujitsu have to write their own key guard code, so it follows that Palm would have to as well.  And if that is indeed the case, it's not unreasonable to assume it would look much like the ARM-native key guard software on the other Treos.  Plus, the key guard here doesn't look exactly like the one on the Treo 650.  It also includes the time, a nice little addition.

Let's talk screen size. Windows Mobile doesn't support 320x320 displays.  A Windows Mobile Treo would have to run either 240x240, like the HP 6500, or 480x480.  Given the expense required to make a near-laser-printer-quality 250 dpi screen that would cram 480x480 into the same dimensions as the current Treo screen, I think we can discount that for now.  A Windows Mobile Treo will almost certainly use a 240x240 pixel screen, just like HP's Treo clone.  The icons and text in the videos certainly looked like the same Tahoma at 240 pixels across that I remember so well from my three years using Windows Mobile devices, but again, if the video was taken on the HP and played back scaled to full screen on a 320x320 Palm OS Treo, wouldn't it still look like 240x240?

In short, the videos are ultimately inconclusive.  Personally, I'm convinced the hardware is real. I'm also convinced that PalmOne under Todd Bradley did at least look into making a Windows Mobile Treo. I'm not sure if the project is still active, and I'm not sure Palm, Inc. under Ed Colligan would release a Windows Mobile Treo.

Could Palm really have two new Treo 670 up their sleeve? The picture above taken of the Treo 670 back in February this year seems to indicate just that.  The two devices look similar, but look closely. The Treo on the left has no coloring for the phone keypad, but more importantly, the buttons clearly show Palm OS icons.  The top two buttons are home and menu, and the four below them are the same Call, Calendar, Messaging and End found on the Treo 650.  On the device on the right, the top two buttons, are blank, as smart buttons on a Windows Mobile phone would be.  Also blank are the buttons that would be Calendar and Messaging on a Palm OS Treo.  In one of the videos, we saw those same two buttons light up blue with a Windows flag and a round OK button, choices that make sense for a Windows Mobile phone (though it does call into question the reference to the "Calendar" button in the key guard dialog).

If this source, known only as "roc a fella," is correct, the device on the left in the photo is actually running Cobalt. So if these rumors bear out (and there's a lot of "ifs" in this article), we're looking at three Treos on the market by next spring, ignoring the carrier variations:

· The existing Treo 650 running Garnet, replacing the 600 as the "low end" Treo

· Treo 670 running Cobalt with a 320x320 pixel screen

· Treo 670 running Windows Mobile with a 240x240 pixel screen

Will Palm really do this? Would they really want to support three different operating systems simultaneously? And if this happens, which will you buy?

[Parts of this post were edited.  Jeff’s full “Here a Treo, There a Treo”  originally appeared at 1SRC.]

Treonauts welcome multiple future choices

Posted by Andrew on August 9, 2005 at 12:55 PM

Treo News

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by jhp2 | Aug 9, 2005 3:54:23 PM

Work for a carrier and have friends with MS mobility solutions. They insist that there will be a Windows Mobile version of the next Treo. Said they have seen pictures and received emails regarding it internally.

by Kurt | Aug 9, 2005 5:30:46 PM

One issue with it being a video of WM played on a treo is that on the Treo 650 there is a border all around the image of exactly one white pixel. This did not show up on the videos we've seen. That is not definitive, but interesting nonetheless.

by Matt | Aug 9, 2005 10:30:48 PM

Ok, so i have a friend whose dad works for Microsoft. He works in the smart phone part of the company! I was so excited to be able to ask questions through her. Heres what i got...
-Everything in the office is very hush-hush and he got his info from overhearing people.
-The new treo 670 will be coming out with windows mobile!
-He said he heard they are hoping for a release before X-MAS!

Heres some excerpts from our IM conversation!

her: and the treo 670 is a windows MOBILE device
her: so its also a celly!
Me: wait so he confirmed that the new one is gonna be running windows mobile??
Me: the new treo??
her: yeah
Me: oh my god
Me: are u positive
her: yes

her: hes heard things
her: he says its been very "hush hush"
Me: oh my god!
Me: im so happy
Me: i cant believe its for real
Me: so does he have ANY idea of a release date?
her: uuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh
her: he thinks this year before xmas

Hope i was useful! And dont worry, this is a reliable source!

by Airmax | Aug 10, 2005 6:00:23 AM

Yeah, great news! A new Treo 670 with a reduced display resolution. That's what I've been waiting for.

by Permanent4 | Aug 10, 2005 12:12:49 PM

I'm still skeptical. Wake me when Palm makes an actual announcement...

by TazUk | Aug 10, 2005 1:38:59 PM

Can't see what all the fuss is about myself :o/ If I was that keen on owning something running Windows Mobile I'd have bought one and not a Treo 650.

by Jose Rafael | Aug 11, 2005 2:59:05 PM

Is This The Palm Treo 700?
READ MORE: PDAs, Palm, Rumors, Treo

treo_700.jpg News of the Treo 670 has barely heated up, and already there’s a rumor about the Treo 700. Cool Tech Times shows a really convincing photograph of what it purports to be the Treo 700. Apparently it’ll have a 1.3 megapixel camera with 8x digital zoom, and will have EVDO capability — which is good news for CDMA users at Sprint and Verizon (EVDO is known as Evolution Data Only, and is the wireless broadband protocol of choice for CDMA networks). The design looks amazingly drool-a-licious what with its smooth contours and rounded edges. Though news of it supporting EVDO doesn’t bode well for its GSM future (we’re hoping otherwise though), we’re fervently hoping that this isn’t a Photoshop hoax, and that this is the Real Deal.

on the link click on exclusive....


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