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Palm Treo 680 Review Part 2: Form-Factor Design

Treo680DesignAs I mentioned in my Treo 680 Review Part 1, the single most important upgrade/purchase consideration for me has been one of design – the slick shape, slimmer look, lighter weight and now antenna-less body all combine to make the 680 the most beautiful PalmOS Treo that I’ve owned to date and the one that very much feels best both in my hands and in my pocket.

This second part of my review will therefore focus exclusively on the form-factor – the ‘shell’ – of the Treo 680 which is now available to buy from $199 with Cingular or pre-order the Unlocked GSM model from Palm for $399 in one of four colours.

Treo 680 Form-Factor: Dimensions & Weight

According to the official Palm specifications for the Treo 680 (see our Treo Comparison Chart) the only size difference between this smartphone and the Treo 650 or Treo 700p should be its depth – 2mm thinner with 21mm instead of 23mm. 

However, I was really puzzled trying to figure out why it was that with only 2mm difference the Treo 680 felt _so_ much better in my hands than either of the previous two models so I decided to take some macro shots of the smartphones side-by-side and also measure all dimensions from top to bottom for myself.  My findings were quite rewarding…


Treo680ThicknessChartWhile it is true that the thickness as measured from the centre side of the screen between the Treo 680 and Treo 700p is indeed 21 and 23mm respectively I found out that there were other significantly larger differences in size or thickness elsewhere.

As you can clearly see from the image as well as this Comparison Chart above, the overall size and thickness of the Treo 680 is quite a bit less than we previously thought – it’s almost 20% thinner at the bottom compared to the Treo 700p.  Additionally, because each side of the Treo 680 has a groove (to provide you with a firmer grip) of about 1mm its width is also smaller than on the Treo 650.

The overall effect of this slimmer, antenna-less and lighter (157g instead of 178g) Treo 680 is naturally that it feels even better in your hands than the Treo 650 and as I’ve stated before makes the Treo 680 the first truly pocketable PalmOS smartphone to date. 

In my opinion, the new form-factor design alone should give existing Treonauts a reason to upgrade but just in case it’s not quite enough I’ll provide you with even more reasons in the next parts of my review this week…

Treo 680 Review: Form-Factor Survey
1. How important is the new - lighter, slimmer, antenna-less - form-factor of the Treo 680 in your decision to upgrade/buy it?

I am going to buy it no matter what
The form-factor is the most important reason
The form-factor is one important reason
The form-factor is not important at all

2. Is the form-factor alone reason enough for you to upgrade/buy the Treo 680?

Not Sure

Click Here To View Current Results

Treonauts always have the best form-factor

Posted by Andrew on November 27, 2006 at 07:21 AM

Treo 680 Review

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by Martin Egholm | Nov 27, 2006 8:11:02 AM

BTW: The price for us Europeans are down to 429,- Euro - it dropped 70 Euro in one week - do we dare wait yet another?! :-)
I didn't - just ordered mine now - happy 1. dec to me!

by etherfarm | Nov 27, 2006 12:33:40 PM

The reduced form factor is certainly appealing. I'd upgrade if I could get a definitive answer on whether or not the 680 is plagued by the same problems with Blackberry Connect as the 700 series.

by alex_mayorga | Nov 27, 2006 12:50:49 PM

Enfora sled compatible??? Please say "yes", I'm really trying to talk myself onto buying this one.

Thanks in advance and keep the great reviews coming.

by Andrew | Nov 27, 2006 1:14:44 PM

Alex - Now why didn't I think of that... ;-)

The Treo 680 does fit the Enfora sled but not very well as it was designed for the Treo 650. I'll need to install the drivers on my Treo 680 now to check if it does work and I'll also contact Enfora to enquire as to the possible availability of a new sled.

Chees, A.

by Andrew | Nov 27, 2006 1:18:06 PM

Martin - thanks for the tip. It's certainly interesting to see that the price has been reduced like this in Europe (UK is down from £329 to £299) and makes quite a difference from the time when Palm had actually _increased_ the price of the Treo 650 when it was first launched (for those who remember this).

etherfarm - not sure that BlackBerry Connect is available for Treo 680 yet...

Cheers, A.

by Big Al | Nov 27, 2006 1:19:03 PM

I'm not sure if I saw in any of the comments...

Can the 680 use all the random accessories (battery chargers, sync cables, docking cradle etc?)

I know it is a different stylus.


by Andrew | Nov 27, 2006 1:25:52 PM

Big Al - for the most part you will be able to reuse any Treo 650/700 accessories except some cases, the stylus and the battery. I will write a detailed review of top compatible Treo 680 accessories in the coming days.

Cheers, A.

by ancker | Nov 27, 2006 2:42:44 PM

Andrew, Have you received any update on your Unlocked order? Mine still sits at "Order Received" and has since Wednesday.

Do you have any information?


by jOSH | Nov 27, 2006 3:01:41 PM

Is there a treonauts mobile site yet?

by Andrew | Nov 27, 2006 3:04:47 PM

ancker - yes I have... You should have a pleasant surprise from me here tomorrow... Most Unlocked Treo 680 orders are due to ship on Friday.

Cheers, A.

by Dean | Nov 27, 2006 4:18:09 PM

Shipping on Friday? Man, Palm really sucks sometimes. They finally make it "available" and when I placed my order they didn't say it was a pre-order till after order verification!

by Eric | Nov 27, 2006 4:55:07 PM

I am new to this whole Treo thing, so here's the deal. I waited to get the 680, finally got it, and am confused? There seems to be 3 different ways to access email. I am just using a yahoo account for email, since I have a my company email on my laptop. What's my best choice out of Xpress mail(which wants me to have a computer always up and running, which is not an option), versamail, GetGood? Pros, Cons? or do I purchase something else? No matter what my treo is going to have to go grab my email correct? it can never be pushed instanteously??
Thank you.

by Vito Boscaino | Nov 27, 2006 6:20:44 PM

Palm slashes forecast on Treo 750 delay

MarketWatch Last Update: 5:29 PM ET Nov 27, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) - Palm Inc. late Monday slashed its fiscal second-quarter forecast, citing the delayed U.S. rollout of one of the newest versions of its Treo line of handheld smartphones.
Less than a week after Palm unveiled the Treo 680, another of its offerings that combine the features of a cell phone, computer organizer and wireless email device, the company said the Treo 750 has not been certified in time to sell in the U.S. this quarter as planned.

Chief Executive Ed Colligan said Palm expects to begin shipping the Treo 750 in the U.S. early in its fiscal third quarter, which ends in February. The Treo 750 is already being sold in Europe.
According to Palm, the company now expects to earn between 10 cents and 11 cents a share on revenue in a range of $390 million to $395 million. The company had earlier forecast earnings of 15 cents to 18 cents a share on between $430 million and $450 million in revenue.

Excluding charges and one-time items, Palm estimates it will earn 15 cents to 16 cents a share, down from a prior forecast of 20 cents to 23 cents a share. By that measure, Palm's new outlook falls short of the estimates of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call, who forecast Palm to earn 22 cents a share on $443 million in sales.

Palm will report fiscal second-quarter results on Dec. 19.

Palm's announcement about the Treo 750 came five days after the company unveiled its Treo 680 smartphone, which sells for $199 through Cingular Wireless.

6:02pm 11/27/2006

by William | Nov 27, 2006 7:34:01 PM

Can you comment on the IR transceiver power on the 680 over the 650?

by Eric Walker | Nov 27, 2006 10:49:48 PM

Post #13, so what does that all mean for the 750?

"Chief Executive Ed Colligan said Palm expects to begin shipping the Treo 750 in the U.S. early in its fiscal third quarter, which ends in February"

Fiscal 3rd Quarter ends in February? When is the start of the 3rd quarter then? I thought a FY started 1 October.

by gina | Nov 28, 2006 12:16:04 AM

If Q3 ends in Feb'07, then it starts Dec 1, 2006

So if the 750 is supposed to ship early Q3, then it should ship in Dec.

FYI: not all companies have the same fiscal year cycle -- especially tech companies.

by cecyks | Nov 28, 2006 12:39:12 AM

I am one of those who just can't wait to get my hands on the new Treo 680. I have placed my order of an unlocked one from Palm, and I just called them and this is what I found out:

- All orders placed prior to 12.01 will be "pre-ordered";
- as Andrew said, 1st shipment of treo will be shipped on 12.01;
- I placed my ordered around mid-night 11.22, so my order should be shipped on 12.01;
- Palm offers free shipping overnite now, so hopefully I will get my Treo on Monday 12.4 (overnight shipping only refers to business days);
- that super nice lady "jennifer" said I should give Palm a call if I don't receive my Treo by 12.05.

Hopefully this is useful for everyone who is anxiously waiting for his/her order. I will report again when I get mine!

by Alex D | Dec 12, 2006 10:31:53 AM

Well... with all this hype going on, it should have enough devices out there to answer this:

Are the new 680s plagued by the same keyboard lockups, random resets and the like as the 650s are ?

Has the OS been fixed as the lockups happens even after a hard reset without any backup, i.e. in a factory state ? Sometimes I can see the screen dragging to update... see that blinking asterisk that tells you that there is a pending message/event ?
It takes several seconds to blink, so the device is not tottaly dead, but in some internal loop, or whatever.

Frankly, it should never freeze. It's unacceptable.
I cannot recall anything like that with any other phone brand...

by Purvil | Jan 2, 2007 3:18:06 AM

Hey guys, I am deciding whether or not to get a new Treo. I really want to get a hand held devices that manages everything that Treo offers plus Wi-Fi. I've seen other products on the market with Wi-Fi but they are ridiculously overpriced. I hear rumor that Palm is about to go down and there OS is going to change. I also hear that smartphones are going to be cheaper within the next couple of months. I am first time user so should I buy a Treo regardless or should I wait it out for a couple of months. Also Treo 650 or 680? Not too much of a difference besides antenna and memory. I can get 650 for cheap or should I opt for the 680?

by Rick Ashford | Jan 12, 2007 5:13:47 PM

I am understanding now that the 680 is certainly no upgrade to the 650! I got my 680 the other day as a special offer from Cingular -- the price was too good to pass it up. However, ater playing with this phone for a few days, it is likely I will NOT keep it, for the following reasons:

1) Battery life is pitiful. I am reading posts that recommend turning off the "auto time & date" function, turning off the Bluetooth, turning off the Beam receive, and other tips for extending the battery life to more than just a few hours. That's crapola! I have all those things running on my 650 with no problem. Why should I give them up?

2) The status indicator LED does not work. With my 650, I am used to seeing that blinking green LED to let me know my phone is on. With the 680, there is no way of knowing unless you remove the phone from its case and turn it on to see the screen. Bummer.

3) I don't like the Phone application. I was dialing a number on it earlier today and made a mistake. On my 650, there is a "Cancel" button on the screen that lets you start over. No such button on the 680. I couldn't figure out how to cancel the dialing -- other than to exit the phone application and come back to it again. Poor design, in my opinion.

4) I hate where Palm has put the dedicated Menu button. Being now in the lower right corner, where the right-hand "Shift" button used to be, it is no longer easily accessible for us right-handed folks. Very poor ergonomic design. Plus, now one of the "Shift" buttons has been eliminated -- so the keyboard is no longer a "Full QWERTY keyboard." Also a pretty poor design.

There are a few pluses for the 680. One, I suppose, would be the additional memory. That is nice, but not really necessary. There are lots of programs that will run nicely from the add-on memory card in my 650. Another nicety of the 680 would be its smaller design -- without an antenna. However, having an antenna -- not having an antenna -- it doesn't matter to me. And the difference in size and weight is extremely slight -- hardly noticeable, really. These are certainly not reasons to ditch my 650.

For the life of me, I don't understand what all the fuss is about regarding the 680. It seems to me that the phone ergonomics and operating system have taken a step backward. I wonder why? What is it about the 680 that people seem to be "loving?" Even some people who have moved to it from the 650, which is clearly a better device all around. It boggles my mind!

by ritesh | Jan 18, 2007 10:09:12 PM

completely agree with the previous poster... i can't for the love of god seem to figure out what the fuss is all about. i have a black tie edition treo 650 and there is no way i'm gonna part with it... not the 680 at least!!

by Gary | Dec 4, 2007 6:14:03 PM

Alex or Andrew...some time ago (27Nov06) you guys were talking about the Enfora WiFi sled being used with the Treo 680. Any success or issues or perhaps even a better way to work WiFi into the 680? THX

by Gary | Dec 4, 2007 7:33:00 PM

Alex or Andrew...some time ago (27Nov06) you guys were talking about the Enfora WiFi sled being used with the Treo 680. Any success or issues or perhaps even a better way to work WiFi into the 680? THX

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