CES 2007 hasn't even officially started, and we already have a little hot product announcement: the Palm Treo 750 for Cingular. Actually, we were expecting to see this Windows-based Treo drop before the holidays, but after delays with carrier certification, the launch was pushed back till after the new year, and CES is certainly the place to debut it (after all, it served as the backdrop for the Treo 700w release last year). Like its European variant, the Treo 750v, the Treo 750 sports a more compact design, thanks to the integrated antenna, and features a soft-touch finish for a nice feel. The world phone also includes some sweet enhancements, such as a new threaded chat view for text messages and support for Cingular's 3G UMTS network. However, we're completely disappointed that it won't support the carrier's HSPDA network at launch, and on a lesser note, there's no Wi-Fi (again). We also think the $399.99 price tag (with a two-year contract) is a bit high, especially when you consider that for the same price, the Cingular 8525 offers you all those wireless options and more. Still, we know there are those of you who love the Treo form factor, and it does offer relatively good performance and easy usability. The Palm Treo 750 will be available starting January 8; a version without a camera will also be offered.
Like the European version, the Palm Treo 750 carries a smaller footprint than Treos past, largely thanks to the integrated antenna. At 4.4x2.3x0.8inches and 5.4 ounces, it's only marginally smaller than the Treo 700wx (5.1x2.3x0.9 inches; 6.4 ounces), but it is more compact than some other Window Mobile Pocket PC Phone devices, such as the HP iPaq hw6900 series and the UTStarcom XV6700. That said, it will still make for a tight fit in a pants pocket. The smart phone features a soft-touch finish that gives it a rubbery texture and makes it easier to grip. The curved and tapered edges also make it comfortable to hold in the hand and to use as a phone.
On the front, there is a 2.5-inch diagonal, 65,000-color touch screen with a 240x240 pixel resolution. As we've said in the past, the lower resolution is disappointing. Colors looked washed out; text and images just weren't that sharp, and the display is also a bit difficult to read in direct sunlight. Below the screen, the standard navigation array consists of two soft keys, Talk and End buttons, a shortcut to the Start menu, an OK button, and a five-way navigation toggle. As we found on the 700w, the Treo 750 is easy to operate with one hand, thanks to the well-placed controls and touch screen. The Today screen is also customizable to give you convenient and quick access to widely used apps, such as your in-box or calendar. In addition, you can easily dial by name just by entering the first couple of letters of a contact or conduct a Web search by typing terms in the appropriate entry field.
Of course, to enter such text, there's the Treo 750's full QWERTY keyboard. While it gathered a lot of praise when it debuted on the first Treos, we now find the keyboard to be cramped and hard to use when compared to the more spacious keyboards found on the likes of the Samsung BlackJack and the Motorola Q. The keys are so crowded and close together that it's easy to press the wrong button when typing with your thumbs. However, they are adequately backlit for composing e-mail in dark environments.
The rest of the Treo 750's design elements pretty much keep in line with the previous models, though the 750 has a Mini SD card slot on the right side rather than a regular SD slot on the top as the Treo 700w and 700wx do. Just above the slot is an infrared port, while a volume rocker and a user-programmable shortcut key are on the left spine. On top of the unit, there is a silent ringer switch; all of your USB, universal connector, and headset ports are on the bottom. Finally, the camera lens, self-portrait mirror, and speaker are on back of the device. Though it's recessed beneath the phone's surface, we wish there were a cover for the camera lens since it's not protected from sharp objects (for example, pens or keys) if you just toss it into your bag or purse. Alternatively, it would be nice if a protective case were included in the box. The Palm Treo 750 for Cingular does come packaged with a USB cable, an AC adapter, a wired stereo headset, and reference material.
At its core, the Palm Treo 750 is very much like the Treo 700wx, with some slight enhancements and carrier nuances. It runs Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC Phone Edition, so you get the full Microsoft Mobile Office Suite, which allows you to open and edit Word and Excel documents and view PowerPoint presentations. The Picsel PDF app is also onboard if you want to view PDFs. E-mail solutions are aplenty as the Treo 750 ships with Microsoft's Messaging and Feature Pack out of the box for direct-push technology (e-mail, calendar, contacts, and tasks) as well as compatibility with Good Mobile Messaging and Cingular Xpress. The support for the latter two is particularly nice as Good allows users whose companies use Domino/Notes or GroupWise servers to get their messages, while Xpress Mail can access your POP3 and IMAP accounts. Total memory caps out at 128MB of nonvolatile flash memory with about 60MB available to the user.