Palm Treo 650 review

Price when reviewed

Palm’s stylus-based Palm OS has transferred remarkably well to the PDA-phone format, and the Treo 650 is particularly good for one-handed operation. Palm fans will therefore be disappointed to learn that the OS is to be dropped in favour of Windows Mobile 5 for next-generation Treos.

Palm Treo 650 review

Using the Treo 650 with one hand has its advantages, especially when dashing through an airport with an overnight bag in the other hand. The stylus is still needed at times (to change the view in the calendar, for example), but most navigation is done with just two buttons and the five-way navigation pad. Another great asset is the 320 x 320 pixel screen, which is bright with clear text and icons.

Beneath the screen, the tightly packed keyboard is better than it looks. Due to the keys’ rounded profile and firm resistance, only the one centred under your thumb registers, and you can reach the entire board with one thumb. You still wouldn’t want to type more than short emails with it, though.

Fitted with just 23MB of RAM and 32MB of ROM, it seems low on memory, but you can cram a surprising amount into it. A 1MB PowerPoint file was just 265KB on the device. Everything is stored in non-volatile ROM, so a flat battery won’t result in lost data or programs. Apps don’t feel sluggish thanks to the 312MHz CPU.

Synchronising with a PC works well, although there are several different desktop components to negotiate, including DataViz Documents To Go Professional Edition 7 and Adobe Reader.

But thanks to this bundle, the Treo 650 handled our test files with aplomb. Word documents look great on the bright screen, Excel packs in a lot of cells by using small but crisp text, and you can edit text in PowerPoint presentations. Only Adobe Reader is disappointing, being clumsy to use.

The web browser is pleasingly intuitive: you thumb down/up on the navigation pad to jump to the next/previous screen, left/right to highlight links, and the pad’s button to follow a link. Data transfer uses GPRS and EDGE.

On the voice side, the quad-band phone ensures worldwide operation, and the dialling screen has 70 handy programmable shortcuts, triggering a variety of things such as applications, phone calls or web links. We found voice calls sounded a bit muffled, though.

The Palm Treo 650 is a capable and immensely likeable PDA phone, especially for anyone in business who’s a fan of the Palm OS. But the absence of any killer features means it misses out on an award.

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