Treo 700p: It Can't Wash Your Car (Yet), But It Comes Close - InformationWeek

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03:55 PM
Elena Malykhina
Elena Malykhina

Treo 700p: It Can't Wash Your Car (Yet), But It Comes Close

Hey, all of you traveling businesspeople out there! Put down your BlackBerrys and give the new Treo 700p smart phone a try. It may not come standard with "push" E-mail, but it combines the best of both worlds--professional and personal--into one neat package.

Hey, all of you traveling businesspeople out there! Put down your BlackBerrys and give the new Treo 700p smart phone a try. It may not come standard with "push" E-mail, but it combines the best of both worlds--professional and personal--into one neat package.The Treo 700p, which Palm rolled out this week, is based on the Palm OS, an operating system that PalmSource (the OS developer) plans to transition to Linux. Palm, however, says it's not giving up on the older operating system and has packed it with several new features and updates, including 128 Mbytes of memory, with 60 Mbytes that can be used for applications. The Treo 700p can handle additional memory cards with up to 2 Gbytes of storage. All that space comes in handy once Treo users start downloading documents, such as PDF files, or multimedia, such as music files, on their devices.

The device also works as a modem when it's connected to a laptop, which means people don't have to look for Wi-Fi hotspots or purchase cellular cards to connect to the Web--often a very frustrating experience for traveling businesspeople. To tailor the Treo 700p to businesses even more, Palm has included an application for viewing PDF files and has improved the Web browser on the Treo to be able to display Web pages that haven't been optimized for mobile devices.

Other "consumery" features include a built-in application for streaming video and another one for playing music files. The Treo 700p comes with a 1.3-megapixel camera and camcorder, which will likely be used for nonwork purposes by people at concerts and by proud parents capturing their little ones at gaming events.

But like many consumer technologies, this one can also transfer over to the business world. Imagine a scenario where an insurance agent arrives at the scene of an accident, uses his Treo device to snap high-resolution photos and to videotape the damages, and then sends them out to the insurance company so it can start processing the claim right away. Real-estate agents and salespeople can also find this capability helpful in their fields. "It's one mobile device that combines the professional and the personal, eliminating the need for people to carry multiple devices," noted Tara Griffin, Palm's VP of enterprise markets, in a recent in-person meeting with InformationWeek.

Still, all the multimedia applications and the improved Web browser would be useless without a high-speed wireless network to support them. Palm got the message and built the Treo 700p to work with a third-generation cellular network called EV-DO. The network is specifically designed for high-speed multimedia data, with speeds ranging from 128 Kbps to several megabits per second.

Sprint said this week that it will be the first carrier to start selling the 700p by the end of the month. Sprint will allow its customers to use the smart phone as a modem to connect to their laptops. For those people who don't mind watching TV on small device screens, Sprint will offer live TV capabilities on the new Treo.

RIM's BlackBerry 7130e also works on an EV-DO network provided by Verizon Wireless. However, with the new EV-DO-enabled Treo soon to be offered by Sprint, businesspeople will have more devices to choose from for high-speed Internet access, mobile E-mail, and business applications. Palm expects Verizon Wireless to support the Treo 700p on its EV-DO network as well, although the companies haven't disclosed when that will happen.

Some businesspeople, however, may be reluctant to trade in their BlackBerrys for a Treo 700p because it doesn't come with out-of-the-box "push" E-mail, which automatically transmits E-mail messages that have been received by a server to a mobile device. The Treo 700p has a built-in E-mail application called VersaMail that has to be scheduled to pull E-mail out of a server every few minutes. The good news is it doesn't require middleware because it can directly access Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 using ActiveSync software, whereas the BlackBerry service requires middleware. Treo 700p users who want push E-mail service can purchase it from one of Palm's partners, including Good Technology, Intellisync, or Visto.

"The Treo is a lifestyle device," says Griffin. Expect to see a lot more device makers moving in the same direction, since the demand for devices that blend personal and professional lifestyles is coming directly from their customers.

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