Brighthand’s First Impressions of the Palm Treo 700w

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Palm, Inc. recently stunned the world by coming out with its first smartphone running Windows Mobile 5.0 Phone Edition, not the Palm OS.

Ignoring the change in operating systems, the Treo 700w is superficially similar to this company’s other smartphones from a hardware standpoint. But don’t get the wrong impression, the differences go all the way to the core.

This includes a lower-resolution screen and support for a faster wireless-networking standard.

Treo 700w I’ve only had a Treo 700w for a few days so I’ll just cover some of its most significant features at this time. A full review will be available in the near future.

Basically, at this point I’m going to concentrate on debunking some of the criticisms you may have heard about this smartphone.

Screen

Possibly the most controversial part of this smartphone is its 240-by-240-pixel display. Considering that Palm’s most recent smartphone with the Palm OS has a 320-by-320-pixel screen, many people are worried that the Treo 700w’s is going to be too small.

“Too small” is in the eye of the beholder, but I didn’t have a problem with it. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s a lower resolution screen than I’d prefer, but I found it to be quite usable for the tasks this smartphone was created to deal with.

And lets keep things in perspective. It hasn’t been that long since Palm’s premier smartphone was the Treo 600, a device with an even lower resolution. Considering that this was one of the most successful smartphones of all time, I’m not too worried about this latest model.

Still, there’s no arguing with the fact that not all software supports this screen resolution yet. However, an increasing number of Pocket PCs are using it, so developers would be foolish to not update their applications.

To be honest, the biggest problem I had with the 700w wasn’t with its screen resolution; it was with skin oils.

Because this device has its speaker and microphone on the same side as its screen, whenever you put it to your ear, there’s no way to avoid rubbing the screen on your cheek. I don’t care how many times a day you wash your face, there is always going to be oil on your skin. Some of this is inevitably going to be transferred to the Treo.

This is why I recommend, if you are going to get a Treo 700w, you also get a Bluetooth headset. It will allow you to make phone calls without smearing up your display and without having to fool around with wires.

Memory

Another controversial feature of this Pocket PC is the fact that it has only 25 MB of RAM available to the user.

I know, all most potential buyers of the Treo 700w care about is whether it will be capable of running the basic applications they need. Essentially, they want to know if they are going to have any problems with their calendar and contacts applications.

If this is you, let me assure you that you aren’t going to have any problems whatsoever.

But, at the same time, I want to assure more hard-core smartphone users that this device is capable of meeting your needs. Whatever you may have heard, it has enough RAM to let it run a surprising number of applications simultaneously.

For example, I could download my email, edit a Microsoft Word document, and listen to a podcast all at the same time without a problem. And that’s with Calendar and Contacts running in the background.

Usability

As the smartphone category has developed, people have come to expect these mobile devices to be usable with only one hand. This is somewhat understandable, as I can see a need to be able to make a call while my hands are full.

A surprising number of early reviews of the Treo 700w have criticized it for being difficult to use one-handed.

Rubbish.

As an experiment, I’ve made a point of using this device without ever taking the stylus out. Currently, I’ve been doing this for five straight days and haven’t run into any serious obstacles.

If you want to call a number, just start entering the numbers on the keyboard.

A tap on a button opens a list of your most frequently used applications.

Treo 700w Today Screen Once these are running, dedicated buttons below the screen can control most functions.

And Palm, Inc. has worked hard to make this device easier to use. One of its enhancements allows you to add pictures of people to the Today screen. You just have to select one of these with the D-pad to initiate a phone call.

Summary

I’m calling this section the “Summary” because I’m not ready to draw any conclusions on this smartphone.

Still, I’m quite willing to say that many of the horror stories you might have heard aren’t true. The resolution of of the Treo 700w’s screen isn’t too low, you can run multiple applications at the same time without problems, and you can easily use it with just one hand.

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