So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Palm Treo 750
- HSDPA capable, great design, Palm improvements to Windows Mobile OS are very positive
- No Wi-Fi, 2.5mm headphone jack, no included miniSD card, proprietary charger and USB connection, cramped keyboard
Despite the cramped keypad and a slower processor than some of the competition, the HSDPA capable Treo 750 is one of the better Windows Mobile 5 smart phones we've reviewed.
Price$ 1,199.00 (AUD)
A long awaited upgrade to the Palm Treo 680, the Treo 750 adds HSDPA capabilities and is also the first Palm device to run the Windows Mobile 5 operating system, rather than the proprietary Palm OS. The new additions to the Treo make this one of the best Windows Mobile smart phones we've reviewed.
The Treo 750 is a tri-band GSM 850/900/1900/1900, UMTS 850/1900/2100, GPRS and 3.5G HSDPA phone. It performs quite well for voice calls, with reasonable in-call quality and good volume levels, and the quality of the hands-free speakerphone is above average. We did note a slight echo at full volume, and conversations held in areas with background noise weren't always clear; however this is a common issue with smart phones. The Treo has speed dialling, call history, and a 1000 entry phone book. Despite the fact it is a 3G handset, there is no front mounted camera for video calls.
The main talking point of the Treo 750 is Palm's decision to run with the popular Windows Mobile 5 operating system. Previous Palm devices, including the Treo 680 and Treo 650 have always run on Palm's proprietary OS. While all the standard productivity and multimedia applications were included on the Palm OS, and it was always very easy to grasp, Windows Mobile 5 is the more popular operating system, and offers far more options for third party software.
The main difference between the Treo 750 and the multitude of other smart phones running Windows Mobile 5 is that Palm has tweaked the interface to suit the handset. At the time of review, Palm is the only Windows Mobile licensee permitted to modify the OS; obviously a sweetener offered by Microsoft to Palm in order to get them on board. Palm's first and undoubtedly most effective change is the added contacts search, accessed via a bar at the top of the Windows 'Today' screen. As you type a letter, the search narrows down so users can quickly and easily dial a number (or send a message) without having to navigate to the contacts menu. Other new, handy additions by Palm are an online search box that directs users to the Telstra mobile site, as well as the convenient option to automatically send an SMS instead of answering an incoming call. There is also an option to view your SMS messages with a threaded, chat style view, making it easier to keep track of conversations.
The rest of the Treo's features are much the same as any Windows Mobile 5 device. It has mobile versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player 10 and Pocket MSN. HSDPA capabilities make the Treo an excellent email device, and the standard Windows Mobile messaging application supports push email from a Microsoft Exchange mail server, as well as standard POP3 and IMAP email accounts such as Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. Also standard are Bluetooth and infrared connectivity, but a notable omission is native Wi-Fi. The Treo also has a PDF viewer and voice dialling software.
For multimedia, the Treo 750 supports a wide range of file formats, most playable through Windows Media player. These include MP3, WMA, WAV and MIDI files. Users can also assign most files for use as ring tones. Unfortunately, the media support is let down by a 2.5mm headphone jack instead of the standard 3.5mm. This means users will need an adapter before they can use their own set of headphones. The sound experience was average, and the speaker on the rear of the unit doesn't do justice for those who intend to use this as a music or video player.
Where the Treo 750 falls down is in speed, partly due to the use of a slower 300MHz Samsung processor. Most new smart phones running Windows Mobile 5 are hauling out 400MHz processors, so the Treo is left behind in this regard. The slower processor means users will experience sluggish performance when switching between multiple applications, and performing taxing tasks like watching video files. The Treo offers 64MB of RAM and 128MB of Flash ROM, with 60MB of this available to the user, but Palm also includes a miniSD card slot on the right side of the unit. You'll have to factor the cost of one of these cards into your purchasing decision though, as it is not included in the sales package.
The Treo also includes a 1.3 megapixel camera; again, surprisingly low specifications considering many competing models are rolling out cameras between 2 and 5 megapixels. Predictably photos taken with the Treo's camera are far from sharp or vibrant, exhibit poor colour reproduction and produce high amounts of image noise. The camera is accompanied by a self-portrait mirror, but night time photography is near impossible due to the lack of flash. The camera also doubles as a video recorder, but has equally below-average quality.
The Treo 750 is very similar in design to its aforementioned predecessor, measuring 113mm x 59mm x 21mm and weighing 154g. The round, compact shape that distinguishes Palm units has remained, and the unit again curves outwards from the back, so its fits nicely in your palm. The sides of the Treo 750 make it easy and comfortable to hold, and this means the unit is very easy to operate with one hand. The dark blue and metallic silver finish is also a classy touch.
Its controls consist of a five-way navigational pad, two selection buttons, answer/end call keys and dedicated buttons for the Start menu and OK. There is also volume up and down buttons on the left side of the handset, above an application launcher button, which can be programmed to open any number of programs on the device. Unfortunately, the rather stylish, and comfortable design of the Treo 750 is let down by a small and cramped keyboard. Each key is small, squashed next to each other and they don't feel comfortable to press, so typing is a let down. It is also very easy to press the wrong key, so messaging and emailing were hit and miss affairs during our testing.
Palm rates the Treo 750's battery at up to 4.5 hours of talk time and 10 days of standby time. We found those figures a little higher than what we achieved, managing to use the Treo for about two days before a recharge was required. Keep in mind that use of HSDPA for content such as video streaming and downloads will diminish battery life further. The Treo 750 is charged via an included proprietary AC adaptor, or the proprietary USB cable.
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