Geek Chic: Palm's Treo 700w Impresses - InformationWeek

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Geek Chic: Palm's Treo 700w Impresses

Palm's first foray into the smartphone "dark side" delivers the power and functionality of a Windows Mobile device with much of the simplicity and ease of use you normally find only with Palm OS gadgets.

Palm Treo 700w The PDA wars have long been viewed as a battle between two camps: those running the Palm OS versus Windows-based Pocket PCs. Now there's a truce. The $499 Treo 700w, Palm's first foray into the Windows Mobile space, is an impressive offering. It's the first smartphone I've ever used that doesn't sacrifice PDA functionality to make the phone work, or phone capabilities for the PDA.

The goal of the Palm development team was to let users perform as many of their daily functions as possible without having to use the stylus. And for most common PDA applications (mail, calendar, contacts), you can get around well using the five-way navigator keys, the keyboard, the four dedicated buttons (connect, disconnect, Windows Start and OK) and two smart buttons.

My advice is to use the Treo 700w's user-designated smart button to launch the app that controls the superior 1.3-megapixel camera, to avoid having to make your way through a series of menus. With Windows Mobile 5.0 on board, you also have access to the mobile versions of Microsoft's Office apps (Word, Excel and PowerPoint), Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.

You'll have to relearn some key functions, though. Hitting Connect once, for example, doesn't take you to a call log as it does with most phones. Instead, it takes you to the Today Window, from which you can dial by name (remember to shift into numbers mode first) or number; check voicemail, e-mail or your mini-calendar; or do a Google search. You must hit Connect again to finally get to a call log. There are some other confusing steps that, with time, you'll get used to, like sometimes having to use a smart button to close a window.

Current Treo 600 and 650 users may be interested to note the 700w's "Photo Speed-Dialing" option, whereby you can click through pictures of contacts and dial a number by clicking on the face or pressing the dial button. At 6.4 ounces, the Treo 700w is just a thumbnail's weight over the 650, whose 2.3x4.4x0.9-inch form factor it shares. The 700w is also Palm's first smartphone to support EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) wireless broadband Internet access, available from Verizon.

$499, Palm Inc. www.palm.com

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