Handspring Gets the Phone/PDA Combo Right

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Handspring Gets the Phone/PDA Combo Right By Bruce and Marge Brown http://www.pcmag.com/article/0,2997,s%253D1470%2526a%253D20649,00.asp Product Name: Handspring Treo 180 Street price: $400, plus monthly service fee. Requires: Host PC running Microsoft Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, XP, or NT 4.0; activated network service Company Info: Handspring Inc., 888-565-9393, 650-230-5000; www.handspring.com In the rapidly evolving world of PDA phones, the much-awaited Handspring Treo 180 lives up to the hype that surrounded its announcement last fall: It delivers the slickest combination of function and ease of use we’ve seen to date. If you use a Palm OS PDA and a mobile phone and want the simplicity of a single device, you can purchase the Treo directly from Handspring (or leading GSM service providers) in early February. The Treo measures 5.1 by 2.8 by 0.9-inches (HWD) and weighs 5.4 ounces. When the unit’s lid is closed, the Palm OS PDA buttons are exposed, and you can see the entire 2-square-inch PDA Screen through the lid window (a real help for caller ID and other phone functions). Below the screen is a QWERTY thumb-style keyboard. (For Graffiti lovers, the Treo 180g model substitutes a Graffiti input area for the keyboard.) The only thing missing, in our view, is the Springboard expansion slot, which helped put the company’s Visor PDAs on the map. You can use the Treo as a conventional Palm OS PDA, a two-way SMS and POP3 e-mail communicator, a limited browser, and as a dual-band phone. Handspring’s Blazer 2.0 browser and JP Mobiles One-Touch Mail e-mail client are bundled with the device. (As an alternative you can download the Palm OS America Online e-mail client.) You’ll get 2.5 hours of talk time and 60 hours of standby time on the Treo’s rechargeable battery; the battery is rated for about three weeks of PDA use. We like that the Treo includes both a USB cable and a travel charger, so you’re not burdened with a cumbersome cradle. But be sure to keep the device charged or you could lose your data. The headset with integrated microphone is convenient for hands-free operation. We tested the Treo using Voicestream’s GSM network and our existing EarthLink ISP account for Internet access. We liked the Treo PhoneBook’s 50-number speed-dial list and rapid search function. And the speakerphone function was impressive: With the Treo in the middle of a conference table, we found that someone standing 12 feet from the phone could be clearly heard by the caller. Other Treo features include its Palm-style menu buttons for Web site bookmarks, vibration mode, and three-way calling support. Unfortunately, the unit has no direct button to access the PDA main menu. We also would have preferred voice-activated calling. Because it has no expansion slot, the Treo is limited as a conventional PDA, but the added functionality of its integrated keyboard helps it surpass other available PDA phones.



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