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Treo 680: Vastly Superior Voice & Bluetooth Quality?

Many Treonauts are still wondering exactly what the differences between the forthcoming Treo 680 and the existing Treo 650 and Treo 700p are (see Treo Comparison Chart for more details). 

The fact is that the differences are not immediately obvious past the new slimmer, lighter and antenna-less form factor and the increased memory.  I was therefore extremely pleased to have come across [thanks for the tip Rick] a recent Broadcom press release announcing that its new M-Stream technology “delivers vastly superior voice quality in the upcoming Palm Treo 680”.

Apparently the Treo 680 is the first commercial cell phone to implement M-Stream which provides significant improvements in handset reception and voice quality compared to other handsets – delivering enhanced user experience through higher voice quality and larger coverage areas. 

Further technical details about Broadcom’s M-Stream Technology below:

Millions of cell phone users are familiar with "garbled" conversations due to weak signal reception or signal interference. M-Stream technology applies advanced error correction algorithms to incoming voice streams, and reconstructs lost information to restore reception quality. Based on Broadcom's proprietary signal enhancement algorithms developed for mobile phones, M-Stream technology enables handsets to operate on standard GSM or WCDMA 3G networks with significant improvements in demodulated speech quality in poor signal conditions and measurable improvements in voice clarity.

For GSM networks, M-Stream typically provides a 2 to 3 dB signal/noise improvement over a wide range of channels, including weak signals, fading and in areas where radio interference is present. In WCDMA 3G networks, M-Stream enables a 1 to 1.5 dB typical improvement. Using the industry standard PESQ (perceptive evaluation of speech quality) method of scoring voice quality, M-Stream improves voice intelligibility in poor channel conditions by 0.5-1 unit on the PESQ, where PESQ's quality scale ranges from -1 to 4.5 points. These enhancements provide a direct benefit to consumers by improving call quality while allowing carriers to dramatically increase the number of callers who can be supported on existing networks.

M-Stream is complementary, and not a replacement, to other signal improvement technologies that are commonly deployed in handsets, including Broadcom's own implementation of industry-standard DARP (downlink advanced receiver performance) capabilities. The powerful combination of Broadcom DARP implementation with M-Stream provides up to 6 dB signal/noise improvement under impaired GSM network conditions. This improvement enables carriers to significantly increase their coverage and overall network capacity due to decreased downlink power requirements. DARP -- which is also referred to as single antenna interference cancellation (SAIC) -- is a technique for mitigating high co-channel interference in mobile phones to provide a "cleaner" signal for the handset.

Additionally, the new Treo 680 smartphone also includes Bluetooth silicon from Broadcom.  The Blutonium BCM2045 is an advanced single-chip solution designed from the ground up to promote and enable the adoption of Bluetooth in phones, computers, peripherals and other devices.  The chip addresses every major challenge confronting equipment manufacturers when adopting Bluetooth wireless technology, including power consumption, board space, radio performance and cost. The BCM2045 can provide advantages in all these areas that are unmatched by competing devices developed from older technologies.

The BCM2045 also supports the new Bluetooth Extended Data Rate (EDR) that provides 3 Megabits per second of raw bandwidth for wireless applications and the broadest range of Bluetooth software 'profiles' in the industry, including those supporting advanced multimedia applications.

Evidently until I get a Treo 680 in my hands I will not know for sure if either the voice or Bluetooth quality (when used with a BT Headset or other Bluetooth accessories) will indeed be vastly better than either the Treo 650 or Treo 700p but at least it’s encouraging to know that there are more differences and improvements under the hood than I previously thought.

Broadcom's Revolutionary M-Stream Technology [Press Release]

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Treonauts are always vastly superior

Posted by Andrew on November 13, 2006 at 12:00 AM

Treo 680

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by PCRacer | Nov 13, 2006 8:33:55 AM

from what broadcom says: "The new Treo 680 smartphone also includes Bluetooth silicon from Broadcom. The Blutonium® BCM2045 is an advanced single-chip solution designed from the ground up to promote and enable the adoption of Bluetooth in phones..."

looks like there will be some bt improvements, imo that is the only complaint i've really had with current treo smartphones

by Droosh | Nov 13, 2006 11:19:17 AM

Will the 750 also have this technology?

by smegan | Nov 13, 2006 12:03:35 PM

The fact that the BT module will do EDR suggests that it should suport the BT stereo headsets. Anyone know?

Also, there appeared to be a difficulty with the treo 650 and normal BT headset usage. I believe that if a jack was in the the headset port (like from a charger/mount with speaker out). BT could not override the jack and thu wouldn't work.

I think that there were other (somewhat silly) limitations.

by Termi | Nov 13, 2006 12:25:33 PM

Though being a real Palm enthusiastic since the Palm Pilot 5000 I have to say that the Bluetooth implementation of the Treos really sucks. I want to use this phone inside my car and it doesn't support SAP. I want to listen to my music with my wireless stereo headset and it doesn't support A2DP out of the box. And what does Palm do in the latest model? Nothing usefull. BT 1.2 is nice but without the most usefull profiles it's nothing. How does Palm plan to convince their user base to upgrade? Just because the antenna is missing?

by Chris | Nov 13, 2006 6:19:43 PM

I'll believe it when I hear it. Given that the 650 had a broadcom chip and the worst voice quality of any cell phone I ever owned, vastly superior to the 650 is the least to expect. After all, when have we last heard a product announced that wasn't 'significantly better', 'world's best', bla bla ?!?

by Michael Jacobs | Nov 15, 2006 10:23:50 AM

The question isn't really how it compares to the 650. We expect (perhaps out of nothing but optimism) improvement. The question is; How does the voice and bluetooth compare to the 700 and the 750?

by bosko | Nov 15, 2006 6:46:18 PM

fact is, the speaker volume and quality on the 700p is even worse than the 650, marring an otherwise wonderful device! I have to put the 700p on speaker just to hear a normal conversation in a noisy environment. I hope the 680 does not continue this downward trend...

by dgarts | Nov 16, 2006 6:48:10 PM

I appreciate the attempt to quantify more clearly what in the world will make the 680 a "must upgrade" over my trusty 650.

As many lament, the voice quality is nothing to be proud of, but, as I've always said, I'm a PDA person primarily, and the phone convergence component was simply a matter of practicality of not having to carry multiple devices. I certainly didn't expect an OS company to hit a home run with the phone thing.

Having said that, and having read the article, I just bought my wife a GSM 650, and will certainly NOT be rushing out to get a 680 or any other unit until a real upgrade (bigger screen, much more onboard memory, etc...) finally shows up. I just can't justify spending half a grand on a new Treo when my 650 is good enough to talk on, keep track of my info on, listen to mp3s on, watch movies on, google map my way around on...

by IntheKnow | Nov 21, 2006 11:48:51 PM

So, the BT implementation seems better, th voice quality is better, but the volume on both the regular phone, and the speakerphone, while better than the 650, still don't measure up to other devices I;ve used. For example I also have a Samsung Blackjack; I actually cannot use the handset with the volume turned the whole way up.

The 680 is better than the 650 in many ways..the RF is better, the voice quality is better the extra memory is better. The docs to go is the newest version that supports pdfs. But the volume still needs to be turned up a bit IMHO...

by hubert | Nov 24, 2006 4:38:30 PM

The 650 has been a very useful tool in my daily life except that it is a slow roaming phone, prone to crash, but being able to upload Filemaker database or Zagat make for a highly varied use! Now, will the 680 do all this? I assume so and how to pair via Bluetooth with the MMI of my A8, something I've failed to do so far with the 650...

by Ron Weaver | Dec 8, 2006 12:58:20 PM

Hi, Just got my new Treo 680. It doesn't work with the bluetooth in my new 07 RAV4. It is not compatable with Toyota.

by Dianna Edwards | Dec 20, 2006 2:40:32 AM

Aaargh. I'm still torn between the 680 I've got about ten days left to try before my 30 days are up and my trusty 650. Observations thus far: The 680 is seductive. Sleek, fast, and sexy in most of the right places. But the sound quality ISN"T better than my 650 (which seemed to go through a spell and then settle down and do right) and the bottom line is -- I need a decent phone first. So I'll give it a little longer. Palm Tech support suggested a hard reset tonight and if tomorrow doesn't bring better sound quality -- to return it.

Anybody had this glitch? I'm on TMobile. Sent an email with a photo attachment to my office desktop. Email got there -- but without the photo. No text explaining why the picture was missing. Just no picture. Palm says it's a T-mobile thing. Ideas?

by headless | Mar 4, 2007 8:18:09 PM

Treo 680 bluetooth does not work...with almost any and all cars...please make sure you complain to palm so that they can address this with software upgrade...

Amazing that the 650 works fine in my Lexus...but the 680 is totally useless...I won't even use the phone until the bluetooth works...



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