For smart phone fanatics, there's been no juicier gossip this year than the rumours surrounding a possible successor to the popular Treo 600. Now, after months of silence, PalmOne has formally announced the Treo 650. Though the two devices appear largely alike at first glance, a closer look reveals myriad differences. Besides correcting some of the faults we found in the earlier model, the Treo 650 also includes Bluetooth, a faster processor, and a much-improved screen.
Upside: On the design side, the vivid 65,536-colour TFT display is light-years ahead of the 600's low-resolution screen and is much easier on the eyes. The QWERTY keyboard has a brighter backlighting, with bigger buttons, and the dedicated Talk and End keys are much-needed additions. Furthermore, there's a handy "quiet" switch that gives you a simple way to silence all of the handheld's functions without having to fumble around in menus. But that's not all--many of the PalmOne Treo 650's biggest improvements are under the hood. You get the sorely needed Bluetooth, an integrated VGA camera with video capability, a built-in MP3 player, a speakerphone, an infrared port, support for POP3 and IMAP 4 e-mail (with syncing), and an expansion slot for MMC/SD memory cards. Moreover, the Intel 312MHz processor offers faster speeds than the Treo 600's 144MHz processor, and the removable battery and flash memory mean there are fewer chances you'll lose your data. Globetrotters also will be pleased, as the GSM version will be a quad-band world phone (GSM 850/900/1800/1900).
Downside: For a device that promises everything but the kitchen sink, the Treo 650 comes up decidedly short in available storage. With just 23MB in the device, you'll no doubt have to use expansion cards for any decent file saving. Also, we were disappointed that PalmOne didn't boost the camera to megapixel quality--a feature that is becoming increasingly common on higher-end handsets. Though the company claims its camera is better than the rivals', a higher-quality model would have been a nice touch for such an action-packed device.
Outlook: Given the widespread success of the Treo 600, we have little doubt the PalmOne Treo 650 will win major accolades. Internet hype aside, decidedly loyal Treo fans have been waiting for an improved device for some time, and they're sure to snap it up, though the 600 will continue to be sold. That said, the Treo 650 won't be without competitors. Smart phones such as the O2 Xda IIs and Sony Ericsson's P910i could give the 650 a run for its money. Once we get a device in hand, we'll make our formal assessment.