In addition to wireless WAN voice and data, the Treo 650 includes both infrared and the much-needed Bluetooth. Theoretically, Bluetooth lets you do several things wirelessly: perform HotSyncs and connect to other Bluetooth devices or a wireless headset. But the devil is in the details. While the device is compatible with a variety of headsets on the market, not all support the Treo hands-free profile, which is necessary to automatically route incoming or outgoing calls to the headset. This isn't explained in the Treo 650 manual, though it is covered on the company's Bluetooth compatibility page. Only nine headsets support the profile, including , so be sure to check before buying a particular model. For headsets that don't support the profile (called Headset-Only), you must press a button on the headset to make or receive calls. Also, you can't use the headset to reject, redial, or swap calls--not the most convenient arrangement.
The bigger issue is that the Bluetooth Dial-Up Networking Profile currently doesn't work. That means you can't use the Treo 650 as a wireless modem for your laptop when you are on the road and there are no Wi-Fi hot spots within range. PalmOne says it is working on an upgrade, but in the meantime, it is directing users to a third-party application available from JuneFabrics.com. On the upside, you can use Bluetooth with either carrier to transfer contacts and calendar information, but in typical and Sprint fashion, it should not escape notice that it's impossible to wirelessly send camera pictures. The idea is to force you to use the carrier's data network, but you can transfer them to MMC media.
Much to our disappointment, there's still no integrated Wi-Fi, a feature that has become a common in midrange and high-end PDAs. At some point, thewill work with Treos, but the company has been slow to release the drivers, and you'll still have to pay an extra $129 for something that arguably should be built in. That said, improvements to the WAN data networks along with the addition of Bluetooth lessen the need for Wi-Fi.
The basic phone and handheld functions of the Treo remain the same. You get many of the features of an advanced mobile, including a phone book (size is subject to available memory), 28 polyphonic ring tones, a speakerphone, vibrate mode, three-way calling, speed dial, and picture caller ID (where available). And you get the features of handheld running Palm OS 5.4. Aside from basic organizer applications such as a task list, memos, a calculator, an alarm clock, a calendar, and a world clock, the Treo 650 includes the excellent Dataviz Documents to Go 7.0 for viewing Microsoft Office documents, VersaMail 3.0, AudiblePlayer, and support for Java (J2ME)-enabled games. Multimedia capabilities also got a boost. Previously on the Treo 600, you had to download a third-party application to listen to MP3s; now, the Treo 650 includes RealPlayer in ROM for playing MP3s or Real audio and video files. Music also can be played from the MMC card, and audio automatically stops when a call comes in.
The Treo has always been an e-mail machine, but VersaMail 3.0 ups the ante. In addition to its support for up to eight POP and IMAP accounts, it now works with ActiveSync for Exchange, which means that with a little help from IT, you can connect directly to your company's Exchange Server 2003. Depending on your carrier, service is provided through Verizon's VZEmail or Sprint's Business Connection. The WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser is largely unchanged, but data speeds may not be what you're looking for. The Sprint device operates on the carrier's 2.5G (1xRTT) network, while the Verizon Treo is not compatible with the company's high-speed EV-DO network.
Though many cell phones now come with 1.3-megapixel cameras, PalmOne stuck with a VGA camera, which disappointed us somewhat. The company made some notable improvements though. The camera performs better in low light, can shoot video (in MPEG-4 format) as well as stills, and includes a tiny mirror for self-portraits. We especially liked the included picture and video-viewer application, which can play slide shows and even set them to music. Video-clip length is limited only by the available memory.The CDMA PalmOne Treo 650 is dual band (CDMA 800/1900), which means that analog roaming is not available. We tested the Sprint PCS model in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago and the in San Francisco. Though the design and features are mostly the same, performance will vary slightly depending on which network you choose.
The overall call quality was average, whether we were holding the unit to our ear or using the speakerphone or the included wired earbuds. Verizon offered a slightly clearer signal but not by much. Calls made using Bluetooth headsets were satisfactory, and we had no problems pairing them, but keep in mind that only thehad the necessary hands-free profile. We also tested the Sprint phone with the and the and the Verizon model with the and the .
The good news is that the data services are markedly better. E-mail seemed instantaneous using GoodLink 3.8, a corporate solution offered through Sprint PCS but not included. And while Web pages don't exactly pop open, the faster, nationwide 1xRTT data network delivers a much better experience. Music through the MP3 player was satisfactory, but the player froze on one occasion.
Both version are rated for five hours of talk time and two weeks of standby. The talk time was right on target in our tests for both the Sprint and Verizon models, though the standby time seems a little optimistic. The Treo 650's battery is now removable, so you can swap in a spare (a $60 accessory) on long trips. According to the FCC, the Treo 650 CDMA version has a digital SAR rating of 1.33 watts per kilogram.