Handspring to Release New Treo This Summer

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Handspring is dropping hints about the new Treo device faster than I dropped Geology 100 in college. Two articles have direct comments from Handspring touting a Treo overhaul due out mid to late summer. Specs of course are still a mystery, but we have a few guesses.

Months ago, Handspring canned their entire Visor line and decided to put all their eggs in the Treo basket. The move was definitely daring, and thanks to restructuring major debt from office space leases, Handspring may yet get off the bankruptcy fence. They went further by dropping the Treo 90 and 180 series. The former not being wireless and the latter a set of monochrome units.

So here we have the Treo 270 and 300, which are still the best integrated units available in the mass market. I say mass market because I think the Kyocera 7135 is better in some ways, but poor distribution threatens to kill any potential that device has. With all the excitement over new Clie’s and models from Palm, Handspring has been eerily quiet. Perhaps they were just getting the finances together and performing a general regrouping.

Now it looks like things are back in order and Handspring is churning the PR engine with the announcement of a new carrier for the 270, T-Mobile, and lots of hints about a new Treo device. Here are two –

“It’s the Treo on which Handspring’s future lies. The first version wasn’t successful. A new version is due late this summer, the company says. Handspring’s fate may rest on whether business users are willing to pay for a high-end phone that does e-mail and Web browsing along with other Palm-based functions.” – Mercury News

“The next generation of product from Handspring won’t ship until late summer, but the company hinted to us on Friday that it would involve a major redesign.” – The Register

So it’s coming, but what is it? Well, Handspring really has a solid device in the Treo. There are a few major pieces missing, which they will likely resolve with the next edition:

Design – Expect a more fluid design that looks less like the current Treo and more like the Motorola A760.

Hardware – The biggest problem with the Treo is the lack of expansion slots. I promise you the next version will have an SD slot. Also look for an improved screen. The old 4,096 color could really use an update. Perhaps a cover that doesn’t capture face goo? That would be nice.

Software – The Treo refresh may include OS 5. There’s not a real strong argument for OS 5 other than my guess is very few new devices will run on 4.1 by late summer. Look for an MP3 player to be involved as well. This is simply becoming a requirement for high end devices. One last thing, perhaps a voice recorder will make the cut. I use this feature all the time for recording business meetings. Given these units are targeted at business users, I bet this feature makes it in.

It’s too early for anything official to be known, there aren’t even any prototype pictures circulating yet. Of course, we’ll keep you posted on the latest developments.

 

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