Palm Treo Pro

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INTRODUCTION

    The Treo Pro is a culmination of everything that Palm has learned about making a handheld to date, and the result is a great-looking device with a well crafted spec sheet. Palm makes it no secret that their latest Windows Mobile device is targeted at professionals: it’s the Treo Pro, not the Treo Consumer. That said, expectation for this device are quite high, but we have some hang ups. Read on for a comprehensive look at the Palm Treo Pro!

WHAT’S HOT

    Let’s do a rundown of specs. The Palm Treo Pro is running on Windows Mobile 6.1. It’s using a Qualcomm MSM7201 CPU clocking at 400MHz, and includes 128MB of RAM (~100MB accessible) and 256MB of ROM (~100MB accessible). The screen is 2.5" and has a resolution of 320×320, making for a pixel density of 181ppi (compared to 285ppi on the Touch Diamond/Pro and 164ppi on the iPhone). It’s a quadband (850/900/1800/1900) GSM device with triband (850/1900/2100) UMTS, plus HSDPA. It has aGPS, WiFi (b & g), Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, IrDA (retro!), a 3.5mm jack for audio, microUSB for charging and syncing, and microSD expansion. The camera on the back is 1.9MP. Powering the entire unit is a nice-sized 1500mAh battery. For even more specs, check out PDAdb.net.

(all images link to larger versions)

The Treo Pro is a petite device that fits well in pocket. The keyboard is quite small; you can see that my average-sized thumb can cover four keyboard keys at once.

    The Treo Po features a screen saver that shows you the current date and time, plus system notifications (new SMS, missed call, etc). Although this uses a little bit of battery, it saves you from having to turn on the screen to check notifications and time, which would use more battery. The screensaver can be turned off.

Device
Size (inches)
Weight (grams | ounces)
4.44" x 2.47" x 0.52"

132 | 4.65
4.44" x 2.27" x 0.63"

156 | 5.61
4.74" x 2.63" x 0.43"

157 | 5.53
4.33" x 2.09" x 0.59"

117 | 4.12
4.66" x 2.48" x 0.47"

130 | 4.58
4.56" x 2.33" x 0.67"

188 | 6.63
4.64" x 2.36" x 0.48"

129 | 4.55
3.96" x 2.34" x 0.67"

133 | 4.76
4.68" x 2.44" x 0.67"

188 | 6.63
4.58" x 2.42" x 0.47"

120 | 4.20
4.56" x 2.33" x 0.65"

178 | 6.28
3.92" x 2.41" x 0.60"

137 | 4.83
4.24" x 2.09" x 0.53"

117 | 4.12
4.17" x 2.00" x 0.85"

151 | 5.34
4.41" x 2.24" x 0.49"

122 | 4.30
4.57" x 1.70" x 0.64"

140 | 4.94
4.88" x 2.44" x 0.53"

130 | 4.56
4.21" x 2.20" x 0.55"

120 | 4.20
4.53" x 2.47" x 0.47"

146 | 5.15
4.63" x 2.19" x 0.67"

158 | 5.57
4.35" x 2.07" x 0.67"

158 | 5.57
4.56" x 2.41" x 0.51"

125 | 4.41
4.44" x 2.36" x 0.55"

133 | 4.69
4.01" x 1.98" x 0.55"

124 | 4.37
8.28" x 4.67" x 1.08"

640 | 22.5
4.48" x 2.52" x 0.59"

154 | 5.43
4.17" x 2.38" x 0.68"

147 | 5.18
4.01" x 2.00" x 0.71"

165 | 5.82
4.41" x 2.24" x 0.49"

122 | 4.30
4.41" x 2.28" x 0.73"

140 | 4.94
4.01" x 2.00" x 0.45"

110 | 3.88
4.56" x 2.36" x 0.70"
200 | 7.05
4.30" x 2.40" x 0.60"
120 | 4.23
4.20" x 2.30" x 0.60"
136 | 4.79
3.70" x 2.30" x 0.60"
126 | 4.44
4.48" x 2.39" x 0.51"
116 | 4.09
4.60" x 2.60" x 0.50"

134 | 4.70

4.10" x 2.10" x 0.60"
150 | 5.30
4.40" x 2.32" x 0.75"
190 | 6.70

And here’s a look at the Treo Pro against its predecessors. The Treo Pro (shown in blue) is by far the thinnest WinMo Treo yet, at 14mm.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX



Here is the unboxing video for the Treo Pro.

The box is, like the device, a work of art. It’s small and colorful, and when you open the box, the device is presented right in the front.

    Palm must have spent a lot of money on that box, because there wasn’t much left for accessories. Included is one sync cable, charging adapter, earphones, and some literature. Most devices come with two cables: one for syncing, one for charging. Not the case here. Also, where’s the carrying case? Where’s the screen protector? How about an extra stylus?

THE DEVICE

    The Treo Pro has a beautiful, minimalist design, and it’s painted in gloss black. The device lacks hardware softkeys, but has several programmable hardware buttons. The D-Pad is especially well-done, with a large select button, and a raised 4-way selector.

Close up on the keyboard we get a better feel for the smaller keys. The keyboard includes two shift keys.

Flipping it over, we see the one-piece backing and a speaker in the upper left, plus a camera hole in the top center. Missing is a self-portrait mirror and flash.

  On the left side, we have a volume up and down rocker, plus a camera button. More on photo quality later.

    The Treo Pro uses microUSB, instead of ExtUSB or miniUSB which has become the standard. That’s too bad. Next to the microUSB port is the applauded 3.5mm headphone jack. To the right of that is the mic. Lastly, if you look closely, you can see two little notches on the left. This is for the lanyard loop.

Onto the right side, we see the stylus silo, and a button to toggle WiFi on and off. I liked having a dedicated WiFi button so that I only had to switch it on when I needed faster internet speeds. This is a battery saver.

Speaking of the stylus – it is of the non-collapsible variety.

On the top we have a switch that puts the phone in vibrate (as with all the Treos), plus a standby button which doesn’t turn off the phone completely.

Taking off the back cover we can see the 1500mAh battery, plus the SIM card slot.

Yuck – the soft reset hole is placed under the back battery cover near the SIM card. Fortunately, I didn’t have to use it much.

Speaking of oddly placed things, the microSD slot is also under the battery cover.

And here’s a shot of the lighting used for the buttons and keyboard. Unfortunately, the Treo Pro doesn’t have a light sensor, so the backlighting is always on, which is a waste of battery.

COMPARISONS

    Here we have a shot comparing (from left to right) the HTC Touch Pro, AT&T BlackJack II, Palm Treo Pro, Palm Treo 700w, and Apple iPhone. Note the size of the Treo Pro’s keyboard in comparison to the BlackJack II. And, I wonder why Palm deviated from the curved keyboard as seen on the Treo 700w. I liked that better.

And here they are again in the same order, stacked.

And here is another profile shot. The Treo Pro is about the same thickness as the BlackJack II.

And for fun, here is a shot of the Palm Treo 700w – the first Windows Mobile Palm device, next to the newest.

Flip on over to the next page, where we will cover all of the software enhancements made to the Palm Treo Pro.

    Let’s start here at the default Today screen. Palm doesn’t use any sort of interface replacement like Spb Mobile Shell, but instead relies on the plain old Windows Mobile Today screen. Since this is a business device, that’s fine by us. Keeps it simple. There are two plugins that I am using that come on the device – Google search, and WorldMate. I’ll talk about WorldMate later. The soft keys, which you cannot change, are set to Contacts on the left, and Internet on the right. Internet links to PIE.

And, since this is an HTC-made device, you get the HTC task manager.

I like the battery meter, which is accessible from any screen.

If you tap on Quick Tour from the Today screen, you’ll get a walk through of the main functions of the device.

To help new users further, Palm has included "My Treo" which has guides on how to set up email, Bluetooth, etc.

Here is the Start menu, where we see the usuals.

Included is the full Office Mobile 2007 suite. Good, good.

Here we are in the first frame of the programs menu. The device comes with Google Maps Mobile, and GPS performance was solid while using it. As for the Camera, I will cover that on the next page.

Here is what the Communication Manager looks like, skinned in a nice black/gray theme.

Here on the second frame, we see Internet Proxy and Opera 9.5 beta (which didn’t come on the device – click on to download).

This utility allows you to use a Proxy while browsing the internet.

Opera 9.5 beta works well on the Treo Pro’s 320×320 display.

And finally at the bottom, we see Sprite Backup, TeleNav (which you can’t access unless you pay money, though a 30-day trial is available), and a basic version of WordMate.

Here is Sprite Backup 6.1, which we have reviewed.

The Treo Pro includes a basic version of WorldMate. It allows you to use the weather plugin on the Today screen shown earlier on this page…

…and you can get a 5-day forecast.

A lot of the functionality is disabled, unless you pay more money. It’s a shame that Palm doesn’t give us the full version.

WordMate includes tip calculators, converters, and other helpful tools to use while traveling.

PHONE

Here is the dial pad, which has been spruced up a bit. You can use this or the numbers on the keyboard to dial. You can also dial someone’s name right from the Today screen.

This is what it looks like when you’re on a call. By default, the screen locks during a call, requiring you to use the D-Pad to make selections.

Pressing the green call start button from any screen will bring up recent calls.

Here is the call history screen.

Click on to the next page as we cover Settings and talk about picture quality on the Palm Treo Pro.

Here we are in the Personal Settings.

Not only can you program all of the hardware buttons, but you can set a second command for each button by holding the white Option key on the keyboard. Nice.

You can also specify the sensitivity of the D-Pad for scrolling.

A full version of MS Voice Command is included.

As with the original Palm Treos, you can reject calls with a text message.

And also, you can set whether the screen automatically locks when you put it in standby.

Here is the System part of the Settings.

Sadly the Treo Pro doesn’t have an ambient light sensor to adjust screen brightness to save battery life and increase outdoor visibility.

You can also specify what happens when you connect the Treo Pro to a computer.

The Treo Pro only has 100MB of accessibly program memory, and although that’s not as much as the Touch Pro or Touch Diamond, it’s still enough, even under heavy multitasking.



Take a look at this video that shows some features that I’ve written about so far in this review.

CAMERA

The camera application is simple. Too simple, actually.

You have some control over the photos…

…but not nearly as much as other HTC or Samsung devices.

Here is a macro shot. The color is dull and the foreground flower is not in focus. Click image for original.

Here is a wide-shot, which has mediocre color rendering and some noise.

And here is Bella, posing for an indoor shot. The color is dull and the clarity isn’t there. If you want a device with a good camera, this isn’t it. Try the Omnia.

Click on to the next page as we wrap up the review with a note on performance, battery life, and talk about all the Pros and Cons of the device.

BENCHMARKS

   Spb Benchmark from has been used for the
following benchmark comparisons with the Palm Treo Pro.

    Despite having a somewhat low amount of RAM (~100MB), the Treo Pro does very well in terms of performance. Even under heavy multitasking, the device remained responsive, and I only had to soft reset once during several days of use. Good job on performance, Palm.

BATTERY
    The battery on the Treo Pro is a hefty 1500mAh, which is larger than is found on the Touch Pro. Here is my verdict on battery: with moderate use of WiFi, GPS, and cellular data, plus a bunch of phone calls, the Treo Pro will last you about 1.5 days. With heavy use, you’ll make it through 1 day, and with light use, you’ll get through 2 days. Not bad.

HELP SUPPORT

    Palm is huge on ease-of-use, and they’ve included many ways help a new user understand how the device works – including the getting started guide, plus the assistance that comes preinstalled on the device.

BUGS AND WISHES

    In terms of bugs, the Treo Pro has none. Palm has optimized the software to the point where I haven’t run into any weird behavior, nor have I experienced a device hang-up. That said, I have plenty of wishes…

    The biggest gripe I have about the Treo Pro is that it lacks the "Palm element" that has helped Palm hardware shine on the Windows Mobile platform. Consider the Treo 700w. It came out in 2006, and had a lot of breakthrough features. It had voicemail with play controls, picture speed dialing, easy SMS response to missed calls, and internet searching right from the Today screen. Those items were breakthrough at the time. The Treo Pro brings no such innovations to the table – there is nothing that makes you say "wow!". As it stands, this is just HTC hardware with a Palm logo.

    Next, the camera is horrible. The quality is poor, and it doesn’t have a flash, a self portrait mirror, or autofocus. It’s a yesterday camera on phone of today. I realize that this is a business device, but businesspeople want a good camera, right?

    The unboxing experience with the Treo Pro is a bright point – it makes the device look and feel exquisite. But I think Palm was too busy paying high prices for box design, and forgot to outfit the user. There is no case, extra stylus, or screen protector. Come on! On the same note – Palm needs to skip the trialware. It’s almost insulting to pay $550 for a new phone and then have to pay more money for a full version of TeleNav or WorldMate.

    And then there are the many small details that Palm missed: under the battery cover is a bad place for a soft reset hole and a microSD slot – ask any phone user, and they’ll tell you that. An ambient light sensor is a feature that 90% of new smartphones have – it helps to increase battery life, and increase outdoor visibility, but the Treo Pro lacks this. And use of microUSB is not applauded when most phones are getting it right by using ports that work with miniUSB chargers and cables.

    And finally, there is the issue of usability. The Treo Pro is an easy to use device. But, how about some flick scrolling? How about some interesting software to really push the envelope and create a special experience for the user? And could we ask for a bigger keyboard? I have average-sized hands, and for me, the keyboard is just about usable. For someone with large hands, I can’t imagine how they’d be able to get by.

PURCHASING

    The Palm Treo Pro can be had for a $542.50 unlocked over at Negri Electronics. It will work on any GSM carrier.




PROS


  • Beautiful design


  • Excellent button layout


  • Snappy performance


  • Solid battery life


  • WiFi/aGPS/HSDPA


  • 3.5mm audio jack


  • One-touch WiFi


  • Screen saver is convenient


  • Easy dialing from the Today screen


  • Includes Microsoft Voice Command

CONS


  • Poor camera with no flash or autofocus


  • Lacks the "Palm element"


  • Tiny keyboard


  • No flick-scrolling


  • No case/screen protector/extra stylus included

  • Doesn’t have a better browser

  • No ambient light sensor

  • Lacks FM radio

  • Uses microUSB instead of miniUSB


  • Lacks compelling software add-ons


  • microSD slot and reset hole is under battery cover

Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean
?

OVERALL IMPRESSION

    The Palm Treo Pro is a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s a gorgeous piece of hardware with bug-free software that performs well, with a high level of ease of use. Also, it’s got all of the modern radios (except FM) and features that you want, plus the battery life is above average.

    On the other hand, it’s so lacking in the little details that makes for a well rounded device, that we can’t help but question what Palm had in mind for the Treo Pro. Is this truly a professional device? I think the Treo Pro is a fantastic consumer device. But for the highly-demanding mobile professional, the Treo Pro isn’t it. For ultimate professional no-compromise device, the HTC Touch Pro is still the king.

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About The Author
Brandon Miniman
Brandon is a graduate from the Villanova School of Business, located near Philadelphia, PA. He's been a technology writer since 2002, and, in 2005, became Editor-in-Chief of Pocketnow, a then Windows Mobile-focused website. He has since helped to transition Pocketnow into a top-tier smartphone and tablet publication. He's so obsessed with technology that he once entered a candle store and asked if they had a "new electronics" scent. They didn't.