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Treo 800w Review

New Palm Treo 800w Review Reveals Powerful Enterprise-Class Smartphone With Terrific Hardware Specifications, Ultrafast 3G & WiFi Data Connectivity + Built-in GPS

Treo 800w Review

Following the official release of the Sprint Treo 800w yesterday and with this latest Palm smartphone now firmly in my hands I thought that it was about time to provide you with my review.

My Treo 800w review consists of two parts.  The first one here today provides you with a detailed overview and my take on the Treo 800w hardware (external and internal) as well as its accessories (bundled and other).  My second one in the coming days will focus exclusively on the Treo 800w software on Windows Mobile 6.1.

Overall, below you will be able to quickly appreciate that I have been extremely impressed (somewhat surprisingly) with the capabilities of the Treo 800w providing a rating of 8.5/10 for the external specs, 9/10 for the internal specs and 8/10 for the bundled accessories.  To be honest the hardware specifications are so good that I would have been jumping through the roof if this had been a Palm OS or NOVA OS device (not expected before early 2009 while a Verizon Treo 800w is anticipated by September this year)…

Treo 800w Hardware (External) – Rating 8.5/10

Overall Look & Feel (Form-Factor, Size & Weight) – 7/10
Treo 800w Look & FeelAlthough the Sprint Treo 800w offers a wealth of improvements over previous Windows Mobile smartphones from Palm the fact is that for the most part the look and feel has remained pretty much unchanged – anybody who has seen a Treo before will simply not have to wonder what device this is.

Having said this, the Treo 800w has gone on a serious and very visible diet.  It is a full 0.17 inches (0.43 cm) thinner and 1.46 oz (41 grams) lighter than the Treo 700w|wx that it replaces – plus it thankfully also no longer has the protruding antenna. 

Overall, although the Treo 800w is not necessarily the prettiest thing that you’ll ever look at there is nonetheless no doubt that the lighter weight and much slimmer form-factor combined with a soft touch rubberized paint make this smartphone feel extremely good in both your hands and pocket.

Keyboard – 9/10
The Treo 800w borrows freely from the keyboard found on the AT&T Treo 750.  It uses the same hard material but with the important distinction that the keys are a bit larger (by about 10%) and more closely aligned (51mm versus 54mm total width) which makes it even easier to type quickly.

Treo 800w keyboard

Overall, although I would have liked to see the Treo 800w sport a large version of the terrific Centro keyboard, the one here is nonetheless undoubtedly one of the best ones to be found on any smartphone today and in my opinion always a _much_ better choice than any “on-screen” keyboard out there (read iPhone…).

5Way & Navigation Buttons – 9/10
Like the Centro, the 5Way and navigations buttons on the Treo 800w have been “flattened”.  This delivers not only a much cleaner and more elegant look but also an easier and more rewarding tactile experience.

Treo 800w Navigation buttons

The fact that Palm has now added two dedicated buttons for Calendar and eMail as well as placed the two softkeys at the bottom of the screen combine to make it even easier and faster to use this Windows Mobile smartphone.

Ringer Switch & WiFi Button – 10/10
The superbly practical Palm ringer switch that so quickly and easily allows you to silence your smartphone at the top of the device is now combined with an equally useful and practical dedicated WiFi button that allows you to turn this function On/Off with a simple press.

Treo 800w ringer switch & WiFi button

High-Resolution Touchscreen – 8/10
The Treo 800w is the first Windows Mobile Palm smartphone for a CDMA network with a 320 x 320 pixels high-resolution color touchscreen and there is no doubt that this makes a huge difference to enhance your overall experience using any application.

The level of detail that the screen renders is stunning (you should enable ClearType) and thanks to this the everyday interaction with your device feels both rich and modern – particularly with graphically rich applications such as the superb and in my opinion essential Spb Mobile Shell that truly enhance your experience.

The only reason that my rating of the touchscreen doesn’t get a 10/10 is simply that I’m tired of the recessed look.  It’s true that most people have absolutely no issue with this and actually consider it to be an advantage (as they feel it offers better protection for their screen) but for me the recessed screen feels antiquated.  With nearly all modern touchscreen smartphones sporting a flush screen I feel that it’s time for the Treo to have one as well.

Side Buttons – 10/10
The two buttons on the left side to control volume and open one of your favourite applications (you can assign any one you like) have always been perfectly placed in the most ergonomically logical place – quickly and easily within reach of one of your fingers.  Additionally, the application side button now has a little dot protruding to enable you to find it more easily by touch alone.

Treo 800w side buttons

Micro USB Sync & Charge Port – 9/10
On the one hand the new standard Micro USB port on the Treo 800w provides a much better and considerably more elegant sync & charge solution than the previous proprietary system used by Palm while on the other it will surely annoy a few.

Treo 800w microUSB port

On the positive side is the fact that the previous dedicated audio + sync + charge ports have now been combined into a single all-in-one Micro USB solution and that USB 2.0 transfers and synchronisation appear to be much more speedy.

On the negative side is the fact that in oder to for example simultaneously use a corded headset (a very good one is bundled with your Treo 800w) while also charging your smartphone you will need a separate adapter.

Overall though I am extremely happy with the new standard Micro USB port – it offers simple connections to your Treo 800w chargers (such as wall or car) as well as fast data transfers for all your synchronisation needs.

Speakers, Speakerphone & Microphone – 10/10
Palm’s design team has clearly learned from flaws that plagued the speakers and microphone of previous first-generation models.  On the Treo 800w inbound and outbound calls are loud and clear (the microphone is now placed at the front instead of the bottom) while the back speaker offers extremely robust volume for both speakerphone calls and music for example.

 Treo 800w speaker Treo 800w microphone

Memory Expansion Slot & IR Port– 10/10
Although I love my Palm Centro its hard-to-reach memory expansion slot has always annoyed me.  However, on the Treo 800w version the memory card slot and door (located on the right side of the device at the bottom) finally offer a very easily accessible opening for your microSD cards (I used a SanDisk 8GB microSDHC without any problem) while ensuring that it will not accidentally open and release your card (as could happen with the Treo 700w|wx).

 Treo 800w memory expansion Treo 800w microSD

At the same time, Palm continues to conveniently include an IR port on your Treo to facilitate the “beaming” of applications and files.

Stylus – 7/10
Treo 800w stylusThe standard plastic Treo 800w stylus is perhaps the most disapppointing (albeit quite minor) component – it’s light and Treo 800w stylus housingbends too easily which combine to feel not particularly great in your hand.  It would have been much better if Palm could have used an aluminium model or harder plastic version.

On the plus side, the housing of the stylus has now been moved from the back to the side which provides a much more discreet access and a cleaner, more elegant and uncluttered overall look for your device.

Battery & Battery Door – 8/10
Treo 800w batteryThe Treo 800w battery is exactly the same 1150mAh version as that found on the Centro – thus delivering very similar and quite reasonable talk time (4 hours) and standby time (200 hours) performance.

The battery door for its part is extremely sturdy and locks solidly in place when closed (no movement at all) which adds to the overall robust feeling of the Treo 800w in your hands (I think that this is the best door iteration yet by Palm).

Treo 800w Hardware (Internal) – 9/10

Processor – 9/10
Thanks to a fast +TI OMAP 2431 processor the Treo 800w delivers an incredibly responsive experience with no perceptible lag and most early feedback points to this smarpthone being the fastest Windows Mobile device on the market today – something which has naturally delighted buyers.

EV-DO – 10/10
There’s really not much to say here aside from the fact that the high-speed broadband capabilities that EV-DO Rev A. delivers with the Treo 800w is absolutely terrific and a joy to use with any application requiring a data connection.  This alone probably makes the Treo 800w worth buying.

WiFi – 9/10
Finally a Treo with built-in WiFi.  Although the wait was long (understatement) the fact is nonetheless that the Palm team has gone the extra mile to make this WiFi implementation on the Treo 800w extremely intuitive and fast to use.  I was up and running in under five minutes and the added convenience of the dedicated On/Off WiFi button at the top was a very welcome bonus.

GPS – 9/10
Here again the Treo 800w is the first Palm smartphone to benefit from a built-in GPS chipset and it’s one of the best out there using the much better AGPS (Assisted GPS) system that delivers faster location acquisition, uses less processing power saving battery life and also allows for indoor location acquisition.

Thanks to Palm’s integration of Points of Interest (POI) directly in the Today Screen it means that you can quickly find a destination within a few clicks.  Additionally, full-featured Maps and a standalone Sprint Navigation program give you plenty more options to navigate using GPS.

Memory – 9/10
With 128MB program memory (DDR) and 256MB user memory (approximately 170MB available) the Treo 800w offers plenty of space to accomodate all the Windows Mobile software that you may need as well as your files (you can always add even more thanks to the convenient microSD memory slot).

The combination of available memory and fast processor undoubtedly combine to make the Treo 800w a very speedy and responsive smartphone.

Modem – 9/10
As with previous devices, the Treo 800w can be used as a high-speed modem for your laptop using the included USB cable or via Bluetooth and thanks to access to Sprint’s EV-DO Rev A. wireless data network it offers superb speeds to work connected to the web while on the go (additional service charges may apply).

Installation is fairly straightforward and the software for this is included in the package (please note that you must simply be within EvDo wireless coverage to use it).

Bluetooth 2.0 + A2DP – 10/10
I’m a big fan of all sorts of Bluetooth accessories and thanks to its Bluetooth 2.0 implementation the Treo 800w allows fast and easy wireless connectivity with headsets, speakerphones and stereo headphones.

Camera & Video – 8/10
The enhanced 2.0 megapixel (1600x1200) camera and video on the Treo 800w delivers very good pictures and I particularly like the fact that the application offers multiple Modes, Resolution, Brightness and Zoom among others.

As with any camera taking the perfect shot or video is a matter of getting used to the individual settings but the Treo 800w is certainly more than capable to take perfectly decent images for even the average user who just wants a quick snapshot.

Treo 800w Camera Test Treo 800w Camera Test 2 

The images above illustrate a picture taken with the Treo 800w (on the left) compared to one taken with a 10.0 megapixel Canon G7 at the same 1600x1200 resolution.  There is no doubt that the Canon takes brighter and better pictures but you’ll have to remember that this is a huge camera that also happens to cost nearly $500.

Wireless Radio – 9/10
There’s really nothing to fault with the Digital Dual-Band (1900mHz and 800mHz) CDMA radio found inside the Treo 800w aside from the fact that it can be used primarily only in the US.  If like me you plan to travel internationally on a frequent basis then you’ll need to ensure you have a spare GSM phone at hand.

Having said this, there is no doubt (for now at least) that the high-speed wireless broadband capabilities that the CDMA network from both Sprint and Verizon deliver in the US considerably make up for the relative deficiency of international mobility.

Treo 800w Accessories (Bundled) – 8/10

Treo 800w headsetPalm Stereo Headset – 9/10
People might complain about the new microUSB connector but Palm has nonetheless made up for this by bundling an excellent stereo headset in the box that offers a built-in microphone, headset button (for Call Answer/End) and powerful quality speakers.

USB Cable – 8/10
Treo 800w USB cableThe long, thick and solid included USB cable is not the prettiest (I personally prefer a retractable S&C cable) but it nonetheless offers fast synchronisation and conveniently also allows you to charge your Treo 800w via a spare USB port at your PC.

Treo 800w chargerWall Charger – 7/10
The included light and small wall charger will prove ideal for the frequent traveller but I was disappointed to see that it only works under 120V and not the standard dual 120/240V which would allow you to use your charger in Europe for example.

Treo 800w Accessories (Other)

As I mentioned earlier, the Treo 800w is compatible with all Bluetooth accessories including wireless Bluetooth headsets (such as my favourite New Jawbone) and Bluetooth speakerphones (such as the Jabra SP5050).  Thanks to Bluetooth 2.0 you can also use a Stereo Bluetooth Headset (such as the Motorola S9) that is A2DP-enabled to listen to MP3 files while on the go.  However, you cannot use a mono Bluetooth headset to listen to MP3 files.

Additionally, Palm lists the following Treo 800w accessories recommendations to purchase:

  • Vehicle Power Charger: A charger that enables you to charge your Treo in your vehicle using the car lighter socket.
  • Replacement Battery: A backup battery that you can use if your primary battery becomes drained, is charging, or has reached the end of its useful life.
  • Battery Charger: A charger that enables you to charge a spare battery.
  • USB Sync Cable: A replacement or spare cable (your Treo comes with one USB sync cable).
  • Extra AC Charger: A 100-to-240-volt AC charger for your Treo.
  • Palm Treo 800 Power/Audio Adapter: An adapter that enables you to charge your Treo and use a wired headset at the same time.
  • MicroUSB/3.5mm adapter: An adapter that enables you to connect a wired headset with a 3.5mm connector to your Treo.
  • International Travel Adapters: Snap-on adapters that enable you to use the Extra AC charger in continental Europe, the United Kingdom, and Australia. (For use with the Extra AC Charger only.)
  • A Treo Case: such as the SPE P6 Pouch Case and Palm Leather Side Case With Belt Clip which both offer a case that you can clip to your belt or bag and that provides quick access to and protection for your Treo.
  • Stylus: A replacement or spare stylus for your Treo.

Please note that more Treo 800w accessories will become available soon as more manufacturers release products specifically designed for this new smartphone.

Related Posts:
Sprint Treo 800w Preview
Sprint Treo 800w Official Image and Specs
Treo 800w Specifications

Treonauts are always very thorough

Posted by Andrew on July 15, 2008 at 01:12 PM

Treo 800w

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» A trio of Treo 800w reviews from Mobility Mind
The latest smartphone from Palm, the Treo 800w has a lot going for it, except of course for the unfortunate timing of its launch. Released around the same time as the Apple iPhone 3G, it did not get half the attention that most Treo smartphones norma... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 28, 2008 8:41:04 PM


by syed | Jul 15, 2008 1:52:45 PM

Is it possible to view flash based websites with this phone

by Strawmanl | Jul 15, 2008 2:06:45 PM

I haven't been able to view any flash pages on it and for that matter, the wmp is giving me an error message when I go to m.youtube.com, which was one of my favorite sites on the 700p. Anyone else have that issue?

by Doug | Jul 15, 2008 5:16:35 PM

When is the Palm OS version going to be available in this form factor? I am a die Palm user. I only have had my Treo 680 for 10 months now. Before that I was still using the Palm VX! I worked for Palm when they were owned by 3COM.



by Tim Larson | Jul 15, 2008 5:45:59 PM

Pleased with the phone so overall... But I must agree with others, that battery life is a disappointment. I'll be buying a second wall charger and a car charger.

by Dan Traut | Jul 15, 2008 9:56:19 PM

I bought mine on Sunday. Like/love it, but there are two things. First, is it just mine or is the center of the screen a bit spongy? Second, my Bluetooth (Cardo Scala-500) seems to keep resetting to a low volume when I answer calls. Am I just doing something wrong?

by why bother? | Jul 16, 2008 9:47:16 AM

ONE MILLION 3G iphones sold in 3 days

'nuf said

by GET A BETTER PHONE!!! | Jul 16, 2008 9:49:19 AM

Apple 3G iPhone battery lasts longer than any other 3G phone, btw.

Palm? no thanks, my next phone will be Apple.

by random9q | Jul 16, 2008 10:23:35 AM

Apple? Meh. I'd be more impressed with Apple and AT&T if they hadn't botched lauch-day for the iPhone3G. I'll wait a while and then re-evaluate, but that was downright silly.

Still, it's raised my estimation of them that there's finally an accepted means for 3rd party apps.

by tgoodp | Jul 16, 2008 12:14:16 PM

Looked seriously at the iPhone, but the new pricing structure is ridiculously expensive and since I have an old plan with Sprint I have free unlimited internet access even with the new high speed. I am disappointed with the battery life, but have already ordered a car charger and extra batteries. I love this phone!

by sam | Jul 16, 2008 12:16:56 PM

i'm on the sero plan... 49.99 1250 anytime, nights, weekends, unlimited data, text, nights start at 7pm. plus i NEED sync with exchange server. I believe apple's plan starts at 129.99 for 1350, but no txt still... txt adds 20/mo more

by PiggyGirl | Jul 16, 2008 12:45:03 PM

It would have looked a lot better if they hadn't copied the Centro's navigation buttons. They're cute on the Centro, it just looks cheap on this one, especially since it doesn't "wrap" around.

The older Treos look so much better. And what are those rectangles for, on either side of the Treo logo??? This really just looks thrown together, with little attention paid to aesthetics. Though, admittedly, it seems to have great features, and I like that it's so small. If they release this in pink or red I might forgive the unsightly buttons.

by Chuck Darwin | Jul 16, 2008 2:19:21 PM

This Treo has the same skimpy 1150 mAh battery as the Centro, yet must power a screen that's 25% bigger, plus a WiFi chipset, plus a GPS chip, plus 128 mb of DDR, plus an extra 128 mb of user memory. The only way the 800w could possibly muster "about the same" battery life as the Centro is if you turn everything off and dim the screen backlight. And the Centro battery life (I own one) pretty much sucks compared to previous Treos. I predict many returns.

by rid021 | Jul 16, 2008 2:22:45 PM

This phone looks so much better than the centro. I'm a guy I don't want my phone to look cute I want it to look rugged and this does that a little. Awesome design palm looks like something a business user would use, not a thirteen year old girl.

by Jack | Jul 16, 2008 7:28:37 PM

I just got mine today. Thus far I'm very impressed. And as for battery, I'm actually using my old Centro battery while my new one charges up. I haven't yet really noticed any less juice, but time will tell.

My initial sync is driving me crazy on how long it's taking though.

by J | Jul 16, 2008 10:31:28 PM

I'm sold.


by timecurve | Jul 17, 2008 11:55:43 AM

I got mine on launch day Sunday, July 13th. I've been having some weired issues with connectivity to internet. Sometimes Outlook email would time out when checking email at regular intervals. Also IE would not pull up any pages saying that Page not available. The EV indicator is on and shows that device is connected, yet it cannot connect to internet. Turning off/on wireless connection and even soft resetting device does not help. I could not connect to internet for example the whole evening yesterday, and early in the morning. When I got to the office it started working fine. Anyone noticing something similar?

The battery is truly wimpy. It is simply laughable. Check this out: My phone was on the charger all night and went off the charger at 7am. I did check my email and sent a few emails out in the morning. I also did some browsing (was trying to anyway) on the way to work. Got to the office, received a voice message, listened to it. Then noticed that internet started working again. Browsed web for a maybe 10 minutes or so. I used device perhaps total of about 45 minutes since 7 am and it is now 11am. The battery is down to 69% already! There is no WAY it will make it though the day. This just blows my mind, how Palm could make such an oversight! This is simply ridiculous!

by David | Jul 17, 2008 3:51:37 PM

You gave this phone's battery ratting 8/10??? The battery sucks! The battery does not last that long. As a professional I need a phone to last through a day. It seems that all palm has been doing to make their phones thinner is to keep putting in a smaller battery. I'm seriously thinking about returning this phone. Its battery life makes it very unusable.

by cat Dumas | Jul 18, 2008 5:04:07 PM

Palm please tell me why you have forsaven we loyal 10 year palm os users by coming out with a good upgrade for WINDOWS mobile first??????

i am very disappointed to hear i have to struggle for another year with the subpar 755p. if my 650 had more memory i'd still be using it. instead my 13 year old has adopted the best phone i ever had. :(

by pcmedix911 | Jul 19, 2008 3:48:32 AM

Face it the phone sux.

Winmo is slow on it and the memory hog os starts to struggle with multiple apps open.

Battery life is a dud without question. Put a 1150amh centro battery in this as they have and its not going to give u a day.

No mms/picturemail. Hello? Its greyed out as a option to send pics so a reg hack is in order to turn it on

Email is exchange and internet/pop/imap only. No notes server?

Ports are different so previous treos users can toss their accessories and buy new ones

Her the instinct or iPhone. This 800w is buildin on flawed materials, specifically winmo 6.1

by Jack Graham | Jul 19, 2008 5:09:41 PM

pcmedix911, I don't know what you are doing with your phone, but I forgot and had about 7 different apps open the other day, and didn't even notice it. I only realized it when I went in to the task manager for another reason. The phone is not sluggish at all, which I admit I'm surprised being a WinMo phone.

I'm still not having any worse battery life than I did with my Centro. My personal solution has been to keep it on my car charger anytime I'm in my vehicle, which isn't but twice a day, and the battery lasts all day just fine. That's running bluetooth headset, multiple emails and messages, ebook reading, along with some calls. Still, I wish Palm would let Seidio build an extended battery for this and the Centro. We can always use "more power", but I don't want the humpbacked battery.

I also own an iPod Touch, which is similar to the iPhone. Although I absolutely love it, I personally do not like the onscreen keyboard, and thus I don't think I'd own the iPhone as my main phone. I text quite a bit. With the new 800w, with the larger keyboard I can type fast and comfortably.

Palm has done a great job with this phone, in my opinion. I'm glad Sprint was quick to get on board, and I'm glad I was able to purchase it.

by Rob Lockhart | Jul 20, 2008 11:18:10 AM

Note to the post above, the micro-USB (uUSB) to USB sync cable is NOT a charging cable. It does a "trickle charge" which means if you're actively using the phone and plugged into the uUSB, you'll notice the following effects:

1) The charge indicator will not be illuminated on the phone, but the battery indicator will show "charging".
2) The phone will continue to discharge if you're using the phone (i.e., email, SMS, web surfing), despite the fact that you're "charging" it.
3) If you get another uUSB to USB cable, you'll see the same effect as the included hotsync cable.

So I envision the following problems, unless they are engineered with clever solutions:

1) If you're playing music on your 800w with uUSB headset, there's no way to simultaneously charge your phone (or keep from killing the battery after a couple of hours)

2) If there was a uUSB-to-3.5mm adapter, same issues as 1) above. No way to simultaneously charge the 800w, as was possible in the past with older Treos (separate headset jack). There is a way to charge and play audio through the older Palm connector.

3) Need some sort of cable that allows 2 USB ports power (500mA limit per USB spec) so that the uUSB port can be provided 1000mA, same specs as AC charging adapter. Perhaps then the red charging indicator would illuminate.

Note that I even used a special 5V 1000mA USB AC adapter meant for charging, and the charging rate did not increase, nor did the red charging indicator illuminate. That tells me that perhaps the port needs to negotiate (via USB) with the USB controller so that WM61 "knows" that this port is authorized to be charged at a higher rate. With this being the case, it might not be possible then to hotsync and full-charge with the same cable. With such a small battery, I wouldn't feel comfortable playing music for half a work day.

by Rob Lockhart | Jul 20, 2008 11:49:12 AM

update to above post.
Looks like with the phone fully charged, I see the "green" light when I plug in the USB sync cable. Need some more data points to fully understand this. It shows some charging. Using it without charging cable, I got it down to 94%. Plugged into uUSB charging cable and PC, it shows green charging LED.

Previous post was regarding charging attempt while in car at 50% charge, using USB port of laptop and USB port of 1A 5V, 12V car adapter. The charging LED was not on, and the phone continued to discharge. Perhaps when the phone is 90% or more (just a guess), it trickle charges at a constant voltage (trickle current) whereas below a certain voltage it must be charged in constant current mode (above current level provided by standard USB ports)?

by Brent | Jul 20, 2008 4:32:31 PM

Windows Mobile? Why do phone manufacturers keep using this crap OS? I was encouraged by the inclusion of wifi... until I realized that the tiny battery and awkward charging will render this feature nearly useless. Sorry, I will wait until Sprint releases an Android phone or until my contract runs out whichever comes first.

by MintedCoin | Jul 21, 2008 9:28:31 AM


The battery life on this phone is the worst!

8 hours max with AIM and minimal surfing.

by Risto | Jul 22, 2008 12:54:20 AM

only complaint is my ringer volume is low.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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