Palm Treo 650 (AT&T) review: Palm Treo 650 (AT&T)

But like the CDMA Treo 650, using a headset wasn't perfect. PalmOne maintains a compatibility list in the support section of its site; the ones labeled Handsfree Profile offer the most features. Only nine headsets support the profile, including Palm's own Treo headset , so be sure to check before buying a particular model.

The bigger issue is that 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.

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, the PalmOne SDIO Wi-Fi card will work with Treos, but the company has been slow to release the drivers, and you'll still have to pay $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.


We liked the Treo 650's photo quality.

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 a 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 files. 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. PalmOne also includes a convenient single in-box for text and multimedia messages. You also can use Cingular's Express Mail Suite, which can connect to major corporate e-mail systems such as Exchange, Notes, and Groupwise (additional subscription required). The WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser is largely unchanged in appearance, though the device supports both Cingular's GPRS and EDGE networks.

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.

The PalmOne Treo 650 is available in a quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; GPRS/EDGE) world phone version. We tested the GSM model for Cingular Wireless--it's the second version available--in San Francisco.

The overall call quality was admirable, whether we were holding the unit to our ear or using the speakerphone, the included wired earbuds, or the optional Bluetooth headsets. Web surfing was satisfactory, but it's not without its quirks. While you can access Cingular's high-speed EDGE network, the device displays the active network as GPRS. The result is a bit confusing--you can be using EDGE, but the Treo says it's working off GPRS instead. There's no word on when this might be fixed, but Cingular's EDGE network promises average data speeds of 100Kbps to 130Kbps (up to three times faster than GPRS).

The GSM version we tested is rated for six hours of talk time and 12.5 days of standby. The talk time was 4.25 hours in our tests, 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 GSM version has a digital SAR rating of 1.51 watts per kilogram.

What you'll pay

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