Thursday, August 28, 2008

Palm Treo Pro

The good: The Palm Treo Pro boasts a sleek design and offers a wide range of wireless options, including Wi-Fi, HSDPA, Bluetooth, and GPS. The Windows Mobile smartphone also provides many productivity and communication tools for the business user.
The bad: The Treo Pro is too expensive and can be sluggish at times. The QWERTY keyboard is cramped and doesn't really suit the business feel of the device.
The bottom line: The Palm Treo Pro offers significant improvements in the design and features department, but the smartphone doesn't offer anything revolutionary and costs more than its competitors, which will make it a hard sell.
Specifications: OS provided: Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional; Installed RAM: 128 MB; Processor: QUALCOMM 400 MHzMSM7201; ; See full specs
CNET editors' review
Reviewed by: Bonnie Cha
Reviewed on: 08/27/2008
Photo gallery:Palm Treo Pro
While not the best-kept secret in the technology world, with leaked photos and videos all over the Net, we were still amped over Palm's official unveiling of the Palm Treo Pro. And why wouldn't we be? The smartphone looked pretty sharp, both inside and out. However, now that we've had some hands-on time with the device, our initial excitement is starting to fade. Don't get us wrong; there is plenty to like about the Treo Pro. Keyboard aside, we really like the updated and attractive design of the smartphone. It's sexy and is the sleekest touch screen/full QWERTY combination, in our opinion. The Treo Pro certainly isn't lacking in the features department either. The business-centric mobile comes loaded with Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition and the full gamut of wireless options, including HSDPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. Now, while this is well and good, at this point, Palm is simply playing catch up to the competition. Add the fact that, for the time being, Palm is only selling the Treo Pro as an unlocked phone for a whopping $549, and we have a problem. While we understand the freedom of an unlocked phone, we just don't see anything that really justifies such a high price tag. It's unfortunate since it's a generally solid device, but we think you can get comparable smartphones for less. Palm did not release a specific release date but it's expected to be available later this fall.
DesignThe Palm Treo Pro represents a complete redesign for the Treo line, and it's most definitely welcome. The Treo Pro completely sheds the outdated, clunky design of previous models and trades it in for a sleeker frame, measuring 4.4 inches high by 2.3 inches wide by 0.5 inch deep and 4.7 ounces. When compared with the recent Palm Treo 800w, which measures 4.4 inches high by 2.2 inches wide by 0.7 inch deep and weighs 5 ounces, the numbers might not that seem that significant, but in hand, you can notice the difference, especially in thinness. You should be able to slip the Treo Pro into a pants pocket with no problem, and it's still the only smartphone we can think of that successfully combines a full QWERTY keyboard and touch screen into one sleek device. The eye-catching black lacquer casing is icing on the cake, but it does have a tendency to hold smudges.
Palm has done a lot to improve the design and hardware of its smartphones. Here is the Treo Pro sandwiched between the Palm Treo 700p and the Palm Centro.
The Treo Pro features a 2.5-inch TFT touch screen with a 320x320-pixel resolution that makes for a fairly bright, crisp screen, though we thought colors looked a bit washed out. The Today Screen gives you one-touch access to your wireless options, upcoming appointments, e-mail, and Google search, and you can customize the Today screen with various background images and themes. The Treo Pro also introduces a new screensaver that will show you the time, any missed calls, or new text/multimedia messages at a glance. It's a small but convenient enhancement.
Below the display, you'll find a redesigned navigation array. You get the standard soft keys, Talk and End buttons, an OK button, shortcuts to the Start menu, Calendar, and Inbox, and a navigation toggle with a center select key. The latter will also flash when you have voice mail. Overall, the controls are fairly easy to use. The shortcut keys are set flush with the phone's surface, and we were initially concerned that they might be hard to press, but this really wasn't the case.
We weren't huge fans of the Treo Pro's QWERTY keyboard. It's pretty cramped and doesn't really suit the business-centric smartphone.
Unfortunately, we did find some issues with the full QWERTY keyboard. The Treo Pro's keyboard is pretty much the same one found on the Palm Centro. There's a tad more spacing between the buttons than the Centro, but it's still fairly cramped. I have small hands and had problems using the keyboard, so I would imagine it will give users with larger thumbs some difficulty. We also think that the keyboard doesn't really suit the smartphone. The Palm Treo Pro is designed for business users, and while the cute, gelatinous buttons might be OK for the consumer-centric Centro, it looks a bit unprofessional and childlike on the Treo Pro. We would have preferred the hard buttons from previous Treos.
On the left spine, there's a volume rocker and a customizable side key, while the right side has a Wi-Fi power button. The top of the unit has a power button and silent ringer switch. A microUSB port and 3.5 headphone jack are located on the bottom. Finally, the camera lens (sans flash or self-portrait mirror) and a side speaker are on the back, and a microSD expansion slot is hidden behind the battery cover.
In a first, Palm will ship the Treo Pro in sustainable packaging, which includes recycled content and a recyclable box.
The packaging and accessories included with the Palm Treo Pro are worth a mention. First, Palm is doing its part to help the environment by shipping the Treo Pro in a recyclable box and other recycled material. The user manuals are printed with soy ink, and the software CD (containing ActiveSync and more) is now preinstalled on the smartphone. You should be able to simply connect the device to your computer via USB cable, and access the content or install ActiveSync. As for the actual accessories, Palm revamped the power charger that lets you swap out the adapters and improved earbuds. In all, the Palm Treo Pro comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a wired stereo headset, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
FeaturesThe Palm Treo Pro marks a great advance for the Treo line, but when compared with the competition, it doesn't offer anything revolutionary. It's simply playing catch up. As the name would suggest, the Palm Treo Pro is designed for mobile professionals and is an evolution for the Treo line, but doesn't offer any revolutionary features. The smartphone runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition, complete with the full Microsoft Office Mobile Suite for editing native Word and Excel documents, and viewing PowerPoint presentations. In addition, Palm ships the Treo Pro with Internet Explorer Mobile, Windows Live integration, OneNote Mobile, a PDF reader, and the WorldMate Pro travel suite to help globetrotters stay on track. Other productivity applications include a voice recorder, a Zip manager, Sprite Backup, a calculator, and a Task Manager to help optimize CPU and memory usage. The Treo Pro comes with 128MB RAM and 256MB storage (about 100MB of it is user accessible).
The Palm Treo Pro features a microSD expansion slot, which is located behind the battery cover. It can accept up to 32GB microSDHC cards.
For e-mail, you get Microsoft's Direct Push Technology for real-time message delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. You can also configure the Treo Pro to access POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts, which, in most cases, is a simple process of inputting your username and password. We were able to set up our Yahoo account on our review unit with no problem and started receiving e-mail within a few minutes. Windows Live Messenger is the only instant-messaging client preloaded on the smartphone.
Phone features on the Treo Pro include quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, speed dial, smart dialing, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging. The contact book is limited only by the available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts), and there's room in each entry for multiple numbers, e-mail addresses, instant-messaging handles, and birthdays. For caller ID purposes, you can assign a picture, one of 37 polyphonic ringtones, or a group ID. Bluetooth 2.0 is also onboard for use with mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, object exchange, and dial-up networking.
The Treo Pro is a 3G-capable handset as well. More specifically, it supports the 850/1900 HSDPA bands, which means you'll be able to get 3.5G speeds, provided that you are using an AT&T SIM. T-Mobile's 3G network operates on the 1700/2100 bands so you won't be able to enjoy the same advantages. Fortunately, the smartphone also has integrated Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), providing an alternative method for surfing the Web. Simply press the one-touch button on the right side of the smartphone to turn on the Wi-Fi and connect to a network. The smartphone will automatically scan for available networks and allows for authentication and data encryption.
The smartphone also has integrated GPS for your navigation needs. To speed up the process of determining your location, the Treo Pro includes a utility called QuickGPS that downloads the latest satellite information via an Internet connection. Google Maps is also preloaded on the device, which provides turn-by-turn directions, local search, traffic updates, and more. However, for real road warriors, you might want to consider getting a full location-based service, such as TeleNav, so you can get more robust navigation features, including text- and voice-guided directions and a fuel price finder.
While it's been all business up to this point, Palm includes some features to bring some balance between work and play. First, you get the standard Windows Media Player 10 Mobile that allows you to enjoy your AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, MPEG-4, and WMV files, to name a few. Plus, if you have TV shows recorded on your Windows Media Center PC, you can transfer them to your device for on-the-go viewing or stream your home's TV programming right to your device with a Slingbox and SlingPlayer Mobile. The Treo Pro's microSD expansion slot is designed to accept up to 32GB cards (when available), so you can fill up a high-capacity card and enjoy all your media.
On back of the smartphone, you will find the Treo Pro's 2-megapixel camera. There's no flash, but you do get 8x zoom and video-recording capabilities.
The smartphone is also equipped with a 2-megapixel camera with 8x zoom and video recording capabilities. You can shoot still images in one of five resolutions and one of four quality settings. There's no flash, but you do get effects and white balance and brightness controls. A self-timer and time stamp are also available. In video mode, options are a bit more limited. You have your choice of four resolutions and can adjust the picture via white balance, brightness settings, and effects. There's no limit to recording length.
Picture quality was mediocre. There was good definition but colors looked washed out.
Picture quality wasn't the most impressive. While objects were clearly defined, colors looked washed out. No matter how much we adjusted the white balance and brightness settings, we could never get the tones to look right. Video quality was acceptable for short clips.
PerformanceWe tested the quad-band Palm Treo Pro (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; UMTS/HSDPA 850/1900) in San Francisco and call quality was decent. For the most part, we enjoyed crisp and loud audio on our end, but there were a couple of instances where voices sounded garbled or we heard a bit of cackling. Still, the overall experience was good and we were also able to use an airline's voice automated response system with no problem. On the other side, our friends reported good results with just a couple reports of an echo. Speakerphone quality was OK. We were able to carry on conversations, but calls sounded a bit hollow and at the highest volume setting, audio could sound slightly blown out. We were able to pair the Treo Pro with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones with no problem.
Armed with a 400MHz Qualcomm MSM7201 processor, the Treo Pro's general performance was OK, but not great. While we didn't suffer any system crashes during our review period, we definitely experienced some of that notorious sluggishness that plagues Windows Mobile devices. It wasn't any better or worse than other Windows Mobile smartphones, but frustrating nonetheless. On a brighter note, the Web browsing experience was swift, thanks to the HSDPA boost. The Treo Pro was also able to find and connect to our Wi-Fi network, and we were also able to enjoy surfing the Net that way. As for multimedia performance, music playback through the phone's speakers sounded one-sided and lacked bass. We're pleased that Palm included a 3.5mm headphone jack, however, and we had a much better experience listening to music with a nice pair of earbuds. Watching video was fine in short spurts, and audio and images were already synchronized.
The Palm Treo Pro's 1,500mAh lithium ion battery has a rated talk time of five hours and up to 10 days of standby time. We are still conducting our battery drain tests and will update this section as soon as we have results. According to FCC radiation tests, the Treo Pro has a digital SAR rating of 1.5 watts per kilogram.

No comments: