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Treo 700w Review: Part 1

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I’ve now had the opportunity to play around with my Treo 700w for a little over a week and I’m slowly getting a sense of what it can do and how well and easy (or bad and complicated) it is to use on a daily basis.

First I must state that I have no previous experience whatsoever with Windows Mobile or Pocket PC devices and so I will be unable to compare the performance of the Treo 700w to competing devices powered by this OS.  Instead I will be using my beloved Treo 650 running PalmOS as the benchmark for evaluating the forthcoming Treo 700w.

My intention is not to write about “the battle of the OS’” pitching PalmSource against Microsoft but to evaluate both pragmatically and neutrally.  It is evident that some Treonauts will categorically prefer either PalmOS or Windows Mobile without much consideration for performance and usability while others will carefully weigh the pros and cons of each to decide which Treo to purchase.  There is no doubt that both the Treo 650 and Treo 700w have unique pros and cons that will each be more or less appealing to different Treonauts and as you’ll discover in my review the ‘perfect’ solution combining the best of both worlds is still not in sight.

Below are the main areas of performance and usability of the Treo 700w that I will be taking a closer look at and review in the coming days:

  1. Synchronization (Microsoft ActiveSync 4.1)
  2. Today (Home screen)
  3. Phone (Calls, Speed Dial)
  4. Contacts
  5. Calendar
  6. Tasks
  7. Notes
  8. Email (part of Messaging)
  9. Browser (Internet Explorer)
  10. SMS and MMS (part of Messaging)
  11. Pictures & Videos
  12. Windows Media Mobile (Movies, Music, TV, Streaming Audio & Video)
  13. Word, Excel and PowerPoint Mobile
  14. Pocket MSN (Messenger, Hotmail)
  15. Verizon Wireless Sync
  16. Programs
  17. Settings
  18. Bluetooth
  19. WiFi

In this first part of my review I will be taking you through my experiences with the Synchronization and Today functions.  Additionally, in parentheses I have added my opinion of how each function compares to our Treo 650.

1. Synchronization with Microsoft ActiveSync 4.1 (Better)

Installing ActiveSync on my PC was done in a few minutes and after following the simple instructions and setting my preferences (I chose to sync my Outlook Contacts, Calendar, Tasks and Notes leaving out the email, IE Favorites, Files and Media options) I was ready to sync my Treo for the first time using either my existing Seidio Retractable Sync & Charge cable or the standard Treo 650 cradle.

There are a number of things that I particularly liked about ActiveSync such as the fact that it syncs in the background without the annoying, distracting and even stressful Hotsync progress windows that appear on screen under PalmOS – I could easily keep working without noticing that a sync was in progress.

Additionally, the Explore button in ActiveSync easily allows me to view, add or delete files on my Treo 700w.  Similarly, you can also access the files on any SD card inserted in the Treo 700w so that it becomes a useful USB card reader – I really love this and wish that it was available out of the box in our Treo 650 instead of having to use a third party program such as Softick Card Export II

Under Tools there is also an option to quickly Add/Remove Programs and perhaps more importantly was the very cool finding that once your Treo 700w is connected to your PC it can automatically share its Internet connection saving you from having to use data minutes if you don’t happen to have an unlimited wireless data plan (it’s kind of the same setup that I use with reverse BT DUN on my Treo 650 but much, much easier).

2. Today (Better)

There is much to like about the Treo 700w’s Today screen even if it could be considered to be somewhat cluttered with too much information if you decide to add all of the options that you can have which include: Lookup Field (Type name or number), Date, Speed Dial (Text + Picture), Owner Info, Messaging, Tasks, Web Search, Pocket MSN, Calendar and Picture.  I personally chose to add everything except Owner Info and Picture (which was making my Today screen run extremely slow…).

As on the Treo 650, typing any character will automatically start a Contacts search.  However, the Treo 700w has a few minor but neat additions such as the fact that the contacts begin to appear in a pop up (see below) within the Lookup Field and that it also has a smart feature which allows it to determine whether you are trying to dial a number (below right) or search a contact.  Unfortunately, as with the Treo 650 you can only perform a First or Last Name search and not a Company which I find annoying on both devices.

Next is the Speed Dial section which offers you the option of dialing via either Picture or Text as well as a Quick Key for any existing or new contact that you want.

Below this I have added the Email and Tasks which I can access via either the 5Way button or simply with my thumb on the screen to open each respective application.

One function of the Today screen which I particularly like and which immediately makes the most of its high speed data connection is the Web Search box in which you type anything then hit the return key to see a couple of seconds later your query results from Google… very neat.

I haven’t yet properly setup my MSN account and so I will have to slightly skim this part but I can quickly tell you that the icons for the MSN butterfly, house, messenger and mail respectively open 1) an MSN jump page; 2) the MSN Mobile web page in IE Mobile; 3) MSN Messenger and 4) your Hotmail account.  Any existing MSN user will undoubtedly be absolutely delighted to see such a tight integration on the Treo 700w.

I can also tell you as a bit of a preview that I was able to follow a link here from WindowsMedia.com which allowed me to perfectly stream both TV and video on the Treo 700w…

Lastly I have my Calendar function at the very bottom of the Today screen which like the Email and Task will take me to the application with either the 5Way or my thumb on the screen.

I hope that this will have given you a good overview of how ActiveSync and Today work with the Treo 700w and how it compares to the Treo 650.  Also, even though I write that I consider both these functions to be ‘Better’ overall than the similar ones under PalmOS in our Treo 650 there are nonetheless other ones which I will review in the coming days that are definitely not so.

UPDATE: Treo 700w Review Part 2 is now available.

UPDATE: The Treo 700w is now available to purchase from the Treonauts Shop for only $299.00 (after mail-in rebate and 2 years new voice & data account).

Treonauts always take a close look at things

Posted by Andrew on December 20, 2005 at 03:51 PM

Treo Windows Mobile

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» 700w pre-release review! from Bernie's ramblings...
Treonauts have written a review writing about various aspects of the 700w, comparing it head-on against the Treo 650. Heres a short summary: Activsync 4.1 + (surprisingly) Today Screen + (as to be expected) The 240240 scr... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 20, 2005 8:52:09 PM

» The first Palm Treo 700w review from Treo Today
After giving us a great first look on the upcoming Palm Treo 700w powered by Windows Mobile, Andrew from Treonauts has released the first part of his full review. In this first segment, Andrew covers the Synchronization and Today functions, with h... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 21, 2005 5:21:17 PM

» First Treo 700w Review Sneaks onto the Web from Lockergnome's Mobile Lifestyle
Looks like you can get a good taste of what's to come from Verizon this January when it will reportedly release the Palm Treo 700w. Treonauts has a little write up on the first Windows Mobile Palm unit and it's... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 21, 2005 7:30:33 PM

» Treo 700w Review from MobileWhack.com
Are you one of those waiting around for the upcoming Treo 700w? Well the folks at the Treonauts have managed to scrounge one up and have some detailed information in a review of the handheld here. Of particular interest are... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 22, 2005 9:03:42 AM

» PDA Blogging Advice Needed: from The Volokh Conspiracy
I have been very happy with the service and pricing of T-Mobile over the past year, as well as with the functionality of my Treo 600. Nevertheless, I was considering moving to Verizon when Palm announced the [Read More]

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» Treo 700w Review from MobileWhack.com
Are you one of those waiting around for the upcoming Treo 700w? Well the folks at the Treonauts have managed to scrounge one up and have some detailed information in a review of the handheld here. Of particular interest are... [Read More]

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» Treo 700w Review from MobileWhack.com
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Tracked on Oct 5, 2006 12:49:42 AM


by Robert Ancker | Dec 23, 2005 3:21:12 PM

Just found info on PocketCopy that answers my question!!!

by ari | Dec 23, 2005 7:57:52 PM

It is good but ironic that search uses google and not MSN search (or whatever microsoft calls it).

by evan | Dec 27, 2005 2:01:32 AM

i have gmail will it work thanks

by KEISH | Dec 27, 2005 12:51:01 PM


by michael | Dec 28, 2005 1:35:33 PM

I would also really love to know if it will work with Launchcast? -- I'm sold if I know it will work.

by shag | Dec 28, 2005 4:45:31 PM

will it sync with Powerbook BlueTooth Address book?

by Randy | Dec 29, 2005 2:24:45 AM

I need a phone with push email. The Blackberry will push the email so if you get an email, your phone will notify you in real time. I have been reading that the 700w will have push technology. I wonder if that is different than the "so called" push they (Sprint)offer right now. Go to this link and watch their demo.


It shows how you access the email, and sync up with it. That is not push as far as I'm concerned. Can anyone elaborate as to whether the trio 700p or 700w will have a "true" push email that will ring your phone the instant you get an email?

I can't spend all day checking to see if I have any new email to respond to. I rely on email a lot, and time is money. If I'm slow to respond, I miss out on sales.

Thanks, Randy

by PDAjah | Dec 29, 2005 3:49:26 AM

Can't believe ActiveSync 4.1 does not have a back-up utility. And what happens to voice tags - do these get synchronised?

by mike | Dec 30, 2005 6:49:06 PM

with sprint y-mail will do a true push to the 650, u just have to foward all other e-mail accounts to y-mail(yahoo mobil)

by Robert | Jan 4, 2006 12:10:04 PM

I talked to a lady at Verizon to confirm the release date as Jan 5th. I ordered my 700 and it will ship tomorrow. She said she can't actually order it till tomorrow. The stores will not have the phone until the 17th.

by Rob Polk | Jan 4, 2006 2:17:35 PM

I contacted my local Verizon Wireless store, here in the Bay Area (NorCal), and he stated that is expecting the shipment of Treo 700W's today, he see's it on his arrival docket, for arrival Wednesday (Jan 4, 2006).

He then stated that he would not be able to sell them until he receives the release statement, which he expects tomorrow.

by Jay | Jan 4, 2006 5:07:28 PM

Okay Jan. 5th release is positive in addition to that you can order your Treo 700W via Verizon Wireless today Jan 04 2006, Priced at 399.99 with voice and unlimited data and 1 yr. 499.99 w 1 yr contract and 599.99 without.

by Jay | Jan 4, 2006 5:09:55 PM

*399.99 price is a 2 yr contract

by Jay | Jan 4, 2006 5:10:06 PM

*399.99 price is a 2 yr contract

by Dan Harms | Jan 5, 2006 10:18:31 AM

Could anyone here verify if the VZ 700w is crippled to not allow BT DUN, and is there a hack to fix it perhaps?

by Anthony | Jan 6, 2006 7:32:37 PM

My name is Anthony and I am officially a treonaut. (Hi Anthony) Haha. I bought my first treo at 3:30pm January 5...and yes, it's the 700w. I know many of you feel as though I haven't had the true treo experience having not been a user of the 650, but nonetheless thought I would give you all my take on my new phone.

Let me preface by saying that I am a computer geek, and am very quick and picking up new platforms. I thought the windows 5.0 OS on this device was extremely intuitive. By the the time I laid down for bed on the 5th, I had gone through every setting, synced, configured my email accounts, checked them, set-up speed dials with pics (by the way my today screen runs just as fast with the pics, as without). One thing I love about it is the phone. The phone is crystal clear, gets great reception, and is truly easy to navigate contacts, speed dials, the number pad, call log, etc. Palm did a terrific job harnessing the power of the button on an OS that, by nature, lends itself to stylus-heavy operation. There were very few times I had to touch the screen, or pull out the stylus to do something. So far, I love the device. I must say, being able to see all my freinds and family across my today screen, and be able to just touch one to call them is pretty damn cool.

The Bad. After windows is done sending/recieving messages on one of your pop email accounts, it disconects you from the EVDO network :( So when you go to the web, or to check another email account, it has re-dial into the network (which takes time). Word on the streets is that MS is working on a patch to release in a month or two. Also, the sound recording on video is sub-par. I'm going to check my voice-recording settings tonight, and try out some different options to see if it's a setting issue...but for now, if it gets too loud in the room it sounds like a nightmare on the phone.

Overall experience so far has been GREAT. I already am falling in love with the phone. I'll update you all soon as new things come up I want to make you aware of.

by Andrew | Jan 6, 2006 7:40:42 PM

Anthony - thanks a lot for sharing your great experiences and welcome on board as a fresh Treonaut!

I can confirm that Palm is aware of the POP/EVDO disconnect issue and that a patch is in the works which will hopefully be available soon (but no exact ETA).

Cheers, A.

by Ali | Jan 6, 2006 9:56:22 PM

I just got this phone today and haven't really started playing with it yet but it seems like a solid phone, I changed from an audiovox VX6600. One thing I noticed though which was a major disappointment was that this thing doesn't come with stereo headphone jack. I guess you can buy one for six bucks but come on this should be a gimmie with anything that is released in 2006. So can't really enjoy any mp3s for now until I get the adapter. Hopefully I won't find any more annoying quirks..

by captaind | Jan 7, 2006 2:09:12 PM

I keep trying to search around, does anyone know if sprint will get a treo with windows mobile this year?

by Fran | Jan 7, 2006 3:23:55 PM

Just went to check out the 700w myself. For these old eyes, the typeface on the screen was just too small. Also, it didn't appear to have a onscreen dial pad like the 650w. This is better to use when driving than the little numbers on the bottom. Also, the options when you are on the phone are so small, you really have to use the stylus, which again, is inconvenient if you are driving. I really wanted that extra built in memory, the broadband, and the better camera, but I decided to wait for the 700p.

by Anthony | Jan 7, 2006 10:46:16 PM

Fran - Just fyi....there is a dial pad. They would have to be out of their mind to build a phone like this and not give it a dial pad. Also, you can increase the font size to suit older eyes if you prefer. As for the options when you're on the phone. You don't have to use the stylus, you just have to learn how to use the buttons on this new platform. I'll say this for all people who are reading this message board...YOU ALMOST NEVER EVER HAVE TO USE YOUR STYLUS IF YOU DON'T WANT TO ON THIS PHONE. Come to think of it...I was on the phone with my fiance last night...shot a short video in my apartment while talking to her (it recorded our conversation with the video too...pretty sweet), and then went to solitaire and played some of that...all without ever touching the stylus.

If anyone says this phone requires a stylus, they just haven't learned how to navigate using the buttons yet. I have come across one scenario when I HAD to use the stylus, and that was to activate the folder drop-down list in my email.

Ali - I couldn't agree more. I love the phone...but they really skimped on accessories out of the box. Pissed me off too considering I paid $400 bucks for the thing.

An update to all. When the phone rings...I don't have to set personal ringers because the phone will tell me "call from 'joe shmoe' on mobile phone" in a nice lady's voice for me. And, so far, has pronounced every single first and last name right. Pretty sweet if you ask me. And the music plays over it so it isn't annoying in the least. In fact, I love it. Also, the start menu has icons for the last 5 programs you've opened. What does that mean...it means you don't have to go the programs screen to access the stuff you use all the time. It's just a click away. Also, I set the side button to rotate my screen. Which is awesome to quickly go from portrait to landscape while surfing the web or playing a game.

Ok that's it for now. I've read so many negative things about this phone which either simply aren't true, or are simply things that you have to spend a day learning to do. I couldn't figure out how to do practically anything on an apple computer when I was browsing the apple store over Christmas. Doesn't mean that Macs suck...it just means I haven't learned how to use them. All that to say, sorry if I seem like I'm defending this phone. But for now, I kinda feel like have to.

by sammy | Jan 8, 2006 9:55:27 PM

It seems that a huge deal is being made of this device simply because it's the first Palm Treo with WM5 O/S. However, this is NOT a ground breaking device. Plenty of capable (or better) devices like the HP hw6515, HTC Wizard, HTC Prophet, Eten M600 are around (all except the last being pruduced by HTC. The Treo 700w is also an HTC product). Treo reviewers are missing something that the hw6515 is criticized for: The majority of WM apps are NOT created for the square screen: You will need to either scroll a lot to use the apps or use a virtual desktop manager like NYDITOT. Also, why no WiFi despite the bulk of the device? Cheers, Sammy.

by Kenneth | Jan 9, 2006 3:44:51 AM

I got the phone on 1/5.
Quick questions

1)How to read Korean/Chinese characters on Outlook? Where can I download encoding software for Windows Mobile 5.0?

2)How to read *.tiff/*.tif files? I know I can read *.pdf but not *.tif. Any softwares out there?

by Rey | Jan 9, 2006 6:32:09 PM

How do you program the quick dials with different passwords for the same number. eg
main number is 800-123-4567, then i would have special tones( passwords) to get to different mail boxes. The problem I encounter is after I program the first one eg. 800-123-4567 with the extra digits ,,1. any subsequential programs with 800-123-4567 with different extra digits eg. ,,2 doesn't work it alwasy refers back to the first program. does anyone know how to fix that?

by Kori | Jan 9, 2006 11:47:22 PM

How do I use my Treo 700 to surf the internet over my laptop?

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