Palm Treo 700W

by PocketGoddess on February 23, 2006

Palm Treo 700W

I’ve been evaluating the Palm Treo 700W for about a week now and while I like it quite a bit more than the HTC Universal because it’s much smaller and lighter, but I’m still not sure that I’m ready for a converged device. There are always a few trade-offs, and the same is true of the 700W as well.

Size-wise, the 700W is just about right. It fits comfortably in my hand and has a curved back that fits perfectly. It isn’t too heavy either, and is about twice as heavy as my old Nokia phone, which is perfectly reasonable. It measures 4.25 inches tall (add another 3/4 inch to the top for the antenna nub), about 2 1/8″ wide, and about 5/8″ thick. The SD slot and IR port are located on the top of the phone, next to the antenna; there’s also an on/off switch for the ringer so that you can quickly silence the phone when you go into a meeting. The stylus is metal and very well-constructed indeed. There are no seams or rough spots, and since it’s metal it has a nice weight in the hand. The stylus tip is black; it would have been better if it were white or yellow so that it would be easier to see exactly where you’re pointing.

The front of the device features a beautiful 240×240 color screen with two softkeys underneath, a 5-way navigator, four application buttons, and a miniature QWERTY thumboard. The left side of the device has a pair of up/down buttons that control the device volume by default, as well as an additional application button that is by default set to launch Windows Media for music and videos. On the bottom you’ll find the sync/charge port and headset jack, and on the pack is the user-swappable battery pack access door and a camera with a self-portrait mirror beside it.

Treo 700w in the dark, to show lighted keyboard

Of course the proof of any device is in daily use and how it can make you more productive, and the Treo 700W certainly shines in that regard. The modified today screen has a quick search contact find box where you can search by name or number, as well as a couple of predefined speed dial buttons. Underneath you see the typical calendar and messages reminders. The rest of the software applications are pretty standard for Windows Mobile 5 devices, meaning that you have Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Notes, as well as Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, and PowerPoint Mobile. There’s a Camera application, but that’s really just a renamed Pictures and Videos program. The Sounds application is where you choose your ring tone, and there are several included. You can also choose whether or not you want to enable sounds for system events, reminders, etc.

Hardware-wise, I’m generally pleased. As I mentioned earlier, the phone feels very solid and well-but, just like other products from Palm. The screen is bright and clearly readable in a variety of light conditions, though of course it’s a bit harder to see in bright sunlight. The keyboard takes some getting used to, especially for punctuation and shifted characters, but after some training and practice it becomes more natural. The keys are nicely spaced and I especially like the fact that the shifted characters (numbers and punctuation are fairly big and easy to see, so you don’t have to hunt for a specific character when you need it. Even better, the keyboard is nicely lighted so that you can still use it in low-light conditions. The different color keys still confuse me just a bit after quite a bit of use, but the dark number keys do serve the purpose since my eye naturally goes to those keys first whenever I’m looking at the keyboard. And of course when you’re in a text entry field normally populated by numbers, such as the phone number, you don’t have to use the option button to get the numbers instead of the letters; the phone takes care of that for you automatically.

I really enjoyed my short experience with the Treo 700W and hate to send it back! While there are some trade-offs, such as a smaller screen, I think that Palm did an incredible job of merging a traditional mobile phone and a PDA into one fully featured unit that is just about the right size and reasonably light as well. Phone and planning features are well integrated, so the Treo 700W avoids the problem of being a phone first/PDA second or vice versa–it truly is a pleasure to use. Pricing varies depending on the deal you can get from your local carrier, currently the list price is $619 and if you sign up with new Verizon service you can get the phone for as low as $399 with rebates. You can get more information from the Palm web site.

5 out of 5

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