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Choosing Your Next Treo

[Update 11/22/06The Treo 680 is finally available to buy starting at $199]

There was a time not too long ago when choosing which Treo smartphone to buy was pretty easy as there was only one model to choose from…  In the past year however Palm has vastly expanded the Treo family to very shortly provide a choice of five (possibly six soon) smartphones below (please click the thumbnail for a full size image) – also see our Treo Comparison Chart.


Last night I was invited to dinner with friends (all Treonauts) and naturally the newly announced Treo 680 (see Finally A Treo For Everyone) came up during our conversation.  They all wanted to know what was special, different or unique about the Treo 680 and naturally also wanted me to recommend “the” one Treo that they should buy next.  The difficulty in answering this last question prompted me to now write this post and look at many of the variables that may play a role in choosing your next Treo.

Listed below are the six top criteria (in no particular order) that I can identify:

1. Which operating system?
Not everyone will know that Palm now offers Treo smartphones running two very distinct operating systems and you should be aware of the benefits and limitations of each to select which Treo to buy.

PalmOS: this operating system is considered to be the simplest and most intuitive OS and review after review rates PalmOS Treo smartphones as the best available today.  The PalmOS is very much still my preferred choice and I use it daily to my delight.  Supported by a vast network of software developers the PalmOS also offers the largest selection of programs of all sorts (see my Top 100 Treo Software list) which considerably help to enhance your overall experience.

Windows Mobile: this operating system has been optimized by Palm for use with the Treo and the general concensus is that Windows Mobile powered Treo smartphones are the best devices using this OS.  WM is particularly appealing to corporate IT managers because it allows them to leverage existing investments and to quickly, easily and cost-effectively mobilize their workforce.  It is not as intuitive or ‘fun’ as the PalmOS but it nonetheless appears to offer just to right solution for those Treonauts who primarily want to use their Treo ‘just’ for the basics such as phone, email, web, contacts, calendar, notes, text messaging and such.

The Treo smartphones running PalmOS are the Treo 650, Treo 680 (to be launched within a couple of weeks) and Treo 700p while the ones running Windows Mobile are the Treo 700w|wx and Treo 750v (not yet available in the US).

2. GSM or CDMA?
Many Treonauts may not even be aware that there are two different mobile standards in the US – GSM or CDMA – but their differences are important and here is my rationale for choosing between them. 

GSM: If you travel frequently internationally then my recommendation will be to choose GSM as this is the standard that currently has the largest global footprint (available in more than 100 countries) and is the one available almost exclusively in Europe and Asia.  Additionally, GSM allows you to purchase individual SIM cards in countries where you travel so as to reduce roaming costs.

CDMA: Because CDMA coverage is largely restricted to the US it will not prove adequate for people who need their Treo when travelling internationally.  However, the US coverage for both voice and data that it provides tends to be very good and the largest carriers (in terms of number of subscribers) are CDMA operators.

Your choice of wireless standard will then determine which wireless carrier you will choose below.

3. Which wireless carrier?
The two largest GSM carriers in the US are Cingular and T-Mobile while the two largest CDMA ones are Verizon and Sprint. 

You may already have a personal carrier preference because of geographic coverage, an existing contract or other factor which may restrict your choice to move to another carrier.  However, if this is not the case then you should carefully first consider if GSM or CDMA best suits your needs and then select your preferred carrier based on quality of service and the cost of their voice and data plans (more on this further below).

Once you have chosen your carrier you will need to select one of the Treo that is/are available to use on their network below.

4. Wireless Connectivity
One of the single most appealing features of a owning a CDMA Treo smartphone from either Verizon or Sprint is that they currently offer the highest wireless broadband speeds – up to 700kbps – while there is currently no Treo smartphone that is able to operate on either Cingular or T-Mobile’s equally fast HSPDA/UMTS networks.

The availability of faster wireless connectivity with both Verizon’s and Sprint’s Treo 700p and Treo 700w|wx will prove particularly appealing to Treonauts who envisage using their smartphone with DUN (Dial-Up Networking) to power broadband connections for their laptop while on the go.

It is also worthwhile mentioning that Sprint offers the lowest wireless data plan at $15 per month while Verizon offers the highest at $50 per month.

5. Which Treo smartphone model?
If you have chosen GSM as your preferred wireless standard you will have the following options below.

Cingular: this carrier has been a Treo “partner” for quite some time and currently offers only the Treo 650 but it is anticipated that it will also be the first to release to forthcoming Treo 680 (possibly offered for FREE if you sign up to a data plan for 2 years) within a few short weeks.

T-Mobile: for some bizarre reason this carrier does not currently offer the Treo on a ‘subsidized’ basis and therefore your only option will be to purchase an “Unlocked” Treo 650 or Treo 680 (available in a couple of weeks) and simply insert your T-Mobile SIM card.

If you have chosen CDMA as your preferred wireless standard you will have these options below.

Verizon: this carrier has been Palm’s “launch partner” for the first Windows Mobile Treo 700w and now also offers the PalmOS Treo 700p.

Sprint: like Verizon this carrier now also offers two high-end Treo smartphones with the Windows Mobile Treo 700wx and PalmOS Treo 700p.

Both Verizon and Sprint are front-runners in the race to bring the Windows Mobile Treo 750 to the US – possibly at the end of this year or beginning of 2007.  Additionally, for now Palm has indicated that the Treo 680 will only be available as a GSM model (thus only to be used with Cingular or T-Mobile) while there has also been no indication as to whether a high-end Treo 750p might be released at some point in the future.

6. Does hardware design matter?
From the image at the top of this post you will have noticed that two Treo smartphones – the Treo 680 and Treo 750 – have a new antenna-less design and they also offer a slimmer and lighter form-factor to previous models.  This alone may not prove to be the deciding factor that influences your own choice but in my case I can categorically state that this is the Treo model that I want to own next because I really love the experience that it provides.  Additionally, the fact that the new Treo 680 will come in four (or more) colours (for the Unlocked model only) is also strongly appealing.

7. My budget
Last but not least is the question of money.  The Treo is certainly not cheap and which smartphone to choose may therefore be directly linked to how large or small your budget is.  However, I know that when I purchased my first Treo 600 (before founding the Treonauts blog) money was very much the least of my concerns – I wanted to have the functionality that only the Treo could offer me and I was willing to pay whatever (within reason) to own one.  I have evidently not been at all disappointed with that decision which in hindsight was probably one of the smartest things that I have done in my life…

Depending on your situation, choosing your first or next Treo smartphone may prove to be a very easy or rather difficult choice but I hope that the above will at least have provided you with a little more information to decide.

At the same time, please take a moment to share your experiences choosing your Treo with your fellow Treonauts in the short survey below.

Choosing Your Treo Survey
1. Which operating system do you prefer?

  Windows Mobile
  No Preference

2. Which mobile standard do you prefer?

  No Preference

3. Which is your preferred wireless carrier?

  Cingular   Sprint  
  T-Mobile   Other  
  Verizon   No Preference  

4. Have you or will you choose your Treo based ONLY on its wireless data speed (EDGE, EvDO, HSPDA)?

  Not Sure

5. Which Treo smartphone would you most prefer to buy/upgrade to?

  Treo 650 (PalmOS)   Treo 700wx (WM)  
  Treo 680 (PalmOS)   Treo 750w (WM)  
  Treo 700p (PalmOS)    
  Treo 700w (WM)        

6. Will the slimmer, lighter and antenna-less form-factor of the new Treo 680 and Treo 750 influence your purchase/upgrade?

  Yes - a lot
  Yes - a little
  No - not at all
  Not Sure

7. How much does your budget influence the Treo smartphone that you will buy/upgrade to?

  A lot - key factor
  A little - it's one criteria
  Not at all - I don't care how much I spend
  Not at all - getting the best smartphone is key
  Not important

Click Here To View Current Results

Treonauts always make the right choice 

Posted by Andrew on October 18, 2006 at 01:44 PM

Treo 650 , Treo 680 , Treo 700p , Treo 700w , Treo 700wx , Treo 750 , Treo 750p

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by andrew | Oct 19, 2006 1:44:18 PM

To all... I had initially included the 'Treo 750p' in the list of smartphones in the survey but given the fact that there has thus far been absolutely no indication from Palm or another party as to whether such a future Treo might become available I decided to remove it and not 'pollute' the survey with a device which may never exist... Evidently the Treo 750p is very much also the smartphone that I would choose if/when it becomes available...

Separately, yes, it was my mistake not to include the Treo 650 in the EDGE column of the chart... I have now updated it. Additionally, please note that the data rates are the 'theoretical maximum' and not actual connectivity speeds.

Cheers, A.

by 2Dr@gon | Oct 19, 2006 2:05:47 PM

I'e seen a lot of people going after unlocked 750v's. I'd sure like to have a more definative date as to when Cingular is going to get the WinMo 750 in house. Otherwise I may have to jump the "early-adopter" train. Anyone else having the same ideas?

by Kermit | Oct 19, 2006 4:11:34 PM

the problem I have with the article (besides its inaccuracies in the charts that others pointed out) - is that it is hard from looking at Palm's "specs" pages to see why the 680 is supposed to be so much cheaper (which is also all speculation, as I haven't seen official pieces) - I mean I know there is less RAM, and the battery is a little smaller - but the screen resolution is the same, the processor appears the same - I would like a more quantitative comparison - for example - is the screen as high quality, is it as bright - does the new antennae-less design affect reception (especially in fringe areas) - is the speed of the device any different ? based on less RAM? different processor? etc. Is the camera as high quality, etc?

by Orion | Oct 19, 2006 5:22:58 PM

Excellent post. As always, I learned something from your review.


by Jon | Oct 19, 2006 7:08:17 PM

680 vs 750:
You've got some things switched.
RAM: 680 has 128MB, 64 useable by user. Believe that's the same for the 750.
Screen: 680 is actually better,320x320 WM can only do 240x240.
the 750 beats the 680 on:
UMTS and eventually HSDPA speeds, 680 can only do EDGE
750 camera is 1.3MP vs 680's .3MP.

And of course 680 Palm OS vs 750 windows mobile.

by Omar McManaman | Oct 20, 2006 5:02:42 AM


Both RAM are not 128 MB, it will be (once again) a new record if Palm has that plenty of RAM. Maybe now you know why our Treos crash couple times a week ;)

As far as i know, the only PDAPhone which having 128 is the "cancelled" BenqSiemens P51 (i assume the battery issue is the reason they cancelled it, instead of their lost money in german division).


by Cripple | Oct 20, 2006 7:49:50 AM

To set some records straight. The 680 specs have 64MB usable memory (Not 128). It doesn't specify the ROM size, but the ROM for the 650 is about 8MB, I can't see that increasing much for the 680 (The 650 had 32Mb, 23Mb being usable). The 750v (There is no w or p yet) does have 128Mb but only 60Mb usuable for the user. Which is the same as the 700w/wx. (What a size difference needed for the OS).
The 750v is a UMTS device which has a similar data speed to EvDO, but it is RUMOURED to be Flash upgradable to make it HSDPA (Not HSPDA. It stands for High Speed Data Packet Access) compatible. Which at the moment has data speeds of around 1.8Mbps but they say they it will increase in the future, possibly up to WiFi b speeds.

by TripleJ | Oct 20, 2006 4:14:38 PM

Palm intuitive??? laugh...laughing...Laughing harder...LAUGHING HARDER! Yeah, whatever! I suffered through using my company Treo 650. Thank God for Windows Mobile. I didn't see Palm create anything intuitively different from the first Handspring given to me years ago. Oh! I take that back, they added color. Oops!

by Duane Aubin | Oct 23, 2006 3:27:28 PM

Triple J,

It seems to me you're unfortunately mesmerized by Windows. You see, Palm hasn't had to change a whole lot with Palm OS because it actually WORKS. Changes to Windows CE/PocketPC/Windows Mobile/whatever-it-will-be-called-next-week is in part because they just haven't gotten it right yet. Give them time, with all their money they're bound to stumble on it at some point, perhaps.

I really shouldn't give in to the palm vs windows thing, but taking a shot at the Palm OS - especially as a Windows snooz... I mean, user - is asking for it.

Palm intuitive? Yes. Absolutely.

by ron | Oct 28, 2006 12:07:04 AM

I have a Cingular Treo 650. Concerning the wireless speed, does it get the GPRS or the Edge. The 680 is on the Edge network, correct?

by Neal K. Huff | Nov 22, 2006 8:28:10 PM

O.K. I'm sold on becomming a 'Treonaut' - up from a Razor V3, svc contract fulfilled - I want the 680 and all the bells and whistles I can have....Do I stay with T-Mobile or jump to Sprint with the cheaper unlimited data plan????

*P.S - I'm outside of Las Vegas in Pahrump.

by marty grace | Nov 26, 2006 7:51:46 AM

i will be traveling to germany in january. if i buy an unlocked treo 700v there will i be able to use it here in the states by just putting in my sim card?

by srujan | Nov 26, 2006 9:30:08 AM

What a great site!!! I enjoy every page of it, including this one.

I'm just trying to see whether I should go for a 700p or a 680. Don't have any carrier constraints and no worries about the form factor. I find the compare link on palm's web-page very misleading. Here's why.

1. Compare page says all treos have the same processor - an Intel 312MHz processor. But individually,
a. 650 and 680 has a PXA270
b. 700p has an XScale
Which of these is the best processor??

2. Compare page says 650 and 700p run Palm OS 5.4(Garnet) and 680 runs 5.4.9, a newer release. Going to the individual specs, I see that
a. 650 runs on 5.4(Garnet)
b. 700p and 680 runs on 5.4.9.
I believe 5.4.9 has a new navigation method, slightly different and improved.

3. Compare page says this about memory
a. 650 has 32mb
b. 700p has 128mb
c. 680 has 64mb
On going to the individual pages
a. 650 has 23mb user-accessible memory
b. 700p has 60mb user-accessible memory
c. 680 has 64mb user-accessible memory

4. Compare site says only 680 has bluetooth 1.2. But going to individual specs, I understand both 680 and 700p has bluetooth 1.2

5. Comparison site says headset is not included in 680. but if you look at "in the box" sections, you see that the headset is indeed included

So, the comparison site is very misleading. So, here's my question. If I take a 680 instead of 700p, here's what I know I'll lose.
a. I don't get EVDO, I need to use EDGE
b. I don't get a megapixel camera, but only a VGA camera.
c. Sprint & Verizon's data-plans are simpler than Cingular's.

Is there anything else I lose if I choose a 680 instead of 700p?

by Andrew | Nov 26, 2006 10:18:22 AM

srujan - thank you very much for your kind comment and for taking the time to point out the corrections needed to our Treo Comparison Chart. We will update it accordingly.

In answer to your question, I believe that your three points pretty much round up the core differences that you will not have on the Treo 680 compared to the Treo 700p.

Cheers, A.

by Srujan | Nov 26, 2006 1:06:29 PM

Hi Andrew,

Well, I was talking about the comparison chart on Palm's website http://www.palm.com/us/products/compare/index.html

I had totally missed the you have your own comparison chart right here, and as usual, I find your comparison chart far more accurate. Its me who looked at the wrong (official) comparison chart probably!?!

And an update... PXA270 is an XScale processor. So, to simplify things a bit, all treos effectively have the same Intel processor.

by Dianna Edwards | Dec 7, 2006 4:59:19 PM

Dear Andrew,

I'm several levels down in knowledge from most of you. I'm Macintosh, T-Mobile. I bought an unlocked 650 because of that. Have a new unlocked 680 in hand considering upgrading to. Stories of short battery life are scaring me. I'm wondering if an "unlocked for Cingular 700p" (??) Treo I saw on E-bay might work for me since Cingular and T-Mobile are such similar networks.

Any thoughts?
Struggling with over-tech here.

by jko | Dec 9, 2006 2:49:18 AM

I just found this site wonderful site today while searching for any info on the 750.

I was at the Cingular store earlier this evening ready (prior to finding Treonauts) to purchase the 650 and the Cingular rep mentioned that the 750 will be available sometime next week in time for X'mas. I opt to wait for the 750 and she even took my info for the waiting list. Hopefully she is right.

by Rich | Dec 23, 2006 3:47:11 AM

I'd like to have
1. A great mobile maps solution, like MGMaps or google maps
2. Have a slick interface to access gmail, like the gmail app
3. Browse the web quickly, with Opera preferably
4. Have customizable mp3 ringtones, and play mp3's
5. Stream internet radio
6. Perhaps most important - have a stable, reliable, long lasting phone.

The p has an ugly interface, but perhaps PalmRevolt would be a viable solution.
It seems to get better ratings for being a phone and reliable, while the wx seems more customizable.

Any opinions on which phone would work best for me?

Thanks. :)

by Wil | Jan 19, 2007 9:14:31 PM

Some locations I go to on a regular basis do not allow anyone to have a camara, includig cell phnoe camaras. Is it possible to get a Treo 680 without a camera?

by Ken Williams | Feb 13, 2007 2:19:47 PM

I have been reading all these posts and have made my own conclusions, good or bad.
While GSM is great, I find myself in awe of Sprint's pricing. Since I'm stuck with Verizn for another year+ I can't do either. But if I could, I would love to have a GSM 700p, but I'd pick sprint and CDMA because of the price. As for the Guy struggling with the tech, Winmob seems to be easier, although I don't have experience with it. For myself, I have so many apps I've loading onto my 650, PalmOS is not great in and if itself, but third party apps can do so much that IMHO, it's better in some ways. WM has it's advantages too...
The 750/680 seem to me to be the WM/POS models that effectively replacethe 700p/700w/wx. That's why there will never be a 750p. However, I look forward to future pslm models and they had better be real upgrades.

by Tess | Feb 28, 2007 4:27:48 PM

I'm finally ready to buy a Treo - and I think I'm walking away a little more confused then ever. LOL Great site, the chart is awesome and I've been browsing for a little while reading everything up. The Treo would be my first smartphone so now I just need to pick one!

by Michael Duff | Sep 19, 2007 6:09:58 AM

This is well presented but does not cover my problem. My trusty Treo 600 finally expired recently. I replaced it with a 750 from Carphone Warehouse as 680s are not available in the UK with contracts. My misgivings about the WM platform seem to be confirmed. After synching with all the data that was previously on my 600, the Calendar performance was extremely sluggish - taking, say, 4 seconds to boot from my Today screen, 4 seconds to scroll 6 months forward and another 4 to open a particular day's schedule. I have since done a hard reset and re-synch'd with only 6 months historical Calendar entries and performance is better but still far slower than my 600 (with all my historical data!) I have tried soft and hard resets and ensured other programs are not running but it's still slow. Any suggestions?

by J Clark | Dec 26, 2007 2:13:54 AM

Please update this page!?!!!
The Centro is out.
There is a 755p.
cellular one-> Cingular -> SBC/AT&T -> AT&T transform.
My Primary Service Area (Verizon) new contract (2007Jul01) joint service contract with AT&T has given me fits of dropped calls!!

by mvbaek | Mar 16, 2008 1:09:16 AM

I am ready to replace my TREO with a higher model maybe 680 or 700p. How do I sync one device to another.

Believe me the old one runs my life - it has my lifeblood in it. So I need to sync ALL details from the old device to the new one.

My concern is how the message on the desktop sync when first set up was that: this Palm Desktop will only work on this (old TREO) device.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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