The Treo 650 is the latest member of palmOne’s line of smartphones. It isn’t an amazing breakthrough, but it does have several significant improvements over its predecessor, the Treo 600.
There were two things Treo 600 users really missed in their device: a high-resolution screen and Bluetooth. Both of these were added in the Treo 650.
Although I referred to this as a smartphone, there’s a lot of room for discussion as to whether this is a smartphone or a cellular-wireless handheld. A lot of smartphones are kind of limited in what they can do, but the Treo 650 can do anything you’d expect a regular handheld to do, plus act as a wireless phone.
Currently, this device is available only from Sprint, and so that’s the version I’m using.
If you’re thinking about getting a Treo 650, odds are one of the main reasons is so you can check your email while on the go. It’s this feature that has made the BlackBerry so popular, and one the Treo 650 handles quite well.
It comes with a copy of VersaMail, palmOne’s email software. This has almost as many features as my desktop email app. It can get email from eight different accounts, allows you to work with attachments, has filters, and lots more.
You can set it to download your email periodically, even every five minutes if you’re that anxious. This is murder on your battery life, though.
It can also handle MMS and SMS messages. These are handled by an application called, logically enough, Messaging.
There’s no point in having a smartphone if it doesn’t work well as a wireless phone. Fortunately, the Treo 650 qualifies.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve talked to lots of people on the Treo 650, and I asked most of them what they thought of the call quality. Everyone I talked to was satisfied, as long as I wasn’t using the Bluetooth headset (more on this later).
This device also can act as a speakerphone, and people were equally satisfied with this. They said there were no echoes or delays, and they could hear me clearly.
I generally use the speakerphone when I’m on a call and I want to use the handheld functions of the Treo. This lets me, for example, check my calendar while still carrying on a call.
However, you can’t be talking to someone and connect to the Internet at the same time. So be warned; if you’re in the middle of a long call, you aren’t getting your email. The converse is also true. If you are online, your incoming calls go straight to voicemail. I’m not sure if this is a limitation of the Treo 650, or just Sprint’s version of it. It’s possible that the GSM/GPRS versions that will be released later will be able to handle voice and data at the same time.
Web browsing is where this smartphone’s high-resolution screen really comes in handy. Admittedly, most web sites are designed for screens that are larger than the Treo 650’s 320-by-320-pixel display, but it can handle web surfing much better than the 160-by-160-pixel screen on the Treo 600 can.
Blazer gives you two options for viewing pages. In Optimized Mode, everything on a web page is made into one long column. This makes pages a lot easier to read, but sometimes you have to do a bit of searching to find what you’re looking for on a page.
In Wide Page Mode, web pages appear just about exactly as they would on your PC. This is the mode I use most of the time unless I’m reading an article, but it means I have to scroll left and right frequently.
Blazer can handle frames, but it does so in kind of an odd way. Each individual frame is made part of one long column. This lets you see the page, but there’s no way to look at it as the designer intended.
My only significant complaint with this application is the lack of a full screen mode. The icons at the top of the screen and the address of the page you are on are always on screen, taking up precious space.
I have another complaint, but it’s not really Blazer’s fault; instead, it’s a limitation of Palm OS Garnet, the operating system this smartphone runs. Sadly, it doesn’t offer very good multitasking capabilities. This means that you when start to download a large web page, you have to sit there and watch it load. You can’t do something else with the Treo, or you’ll interrupt the download.
Fortunately, Blazer starts displaying the text on a web page before the graphics load. So you can start reading without having to wait for everything else to load.