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Palm Treo 750 - black (AT&T) review: Palm Treo 750 - black (AT&T)

Palm Treo 750 - black (AT&T)

Bonnie Cha Former Editor
Bonnie Cha was a former chief correspondent for CNET Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.
Bonnie Cha
8 min read


Palm Treo 750 - black (AT&T)

The Good

The Palm Treo 750 sports a more compact design and comes with integrated Bluetooth, a 1.3-megapixel camera, and world phone capabilities. The Windows-based smart phone also works on Cingular's 3G UMTS network and has push e-mail and the new threaded chat view.

The Bad

The Treo 750 will not support Cingular's HSPDA network at launch and doesn't have integrated Wi-Fi. It also has a low-resolution screen and failed to meet the rated battery talk time.

The Bottom Line

The Palm Treo 750 includes some nice enhancements and offers good usability, but you can get more for your money with the Cingular 8525.
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.

Like the Treo 680 (right), the Palm Treo 750 (middle) sports a more compact design than past Treos such as the Treo 700p (left).

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.

We were disappointed by the 750's low-resolution screen.

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.

Compared to the ones found on the Moto Q and the Samsung BlackJack, the Treo 750's QWERTY keyboard is cramped.

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.

The Treo 750 now has a Mini SD card slot for your extra storage needs.

As far as voice features, the Treo 750 is a quad-band world phone, so you can use the device overseas. The address book is limited only by the available memory, and there's room in each entry for 12 numbers, e-mail and Web addresses, IM handles, company information, notes, and so forth. For caller ID purposes, you can assign a photo, a group ID, or one of 29 ring tones. In addition, the Treo 750 retains some of our favorite phone features first introduced on the Treo 700w, including photo speed dial, ignore call with text, and a user-friendly, icon-based voicemail app that supports numerous systems at work or at home. Other features include a speakerphone, voice commands/dialing, a vibrate mode, speed dial, dial by name, and text and multimedia messaging. Of the latter, the Treo 750 can now do threaded chat like the Treo 680, which gives you more of an instant-messaging experience.

As far as wireless options, there's some good news and some bad news. First, the good: The Treo 750 has built-in Bluetooth 1.2 with compatibility for the A2DP profile for stereo Bluetooth headset as well as OBEX (object exchange), wireless car kits, hands-free headsets, and more. The smart phone works with Cingular's TeleNav GPS Navigator service, so if you have a Bluetooth GPS receiver, you can pair it with the 750 and turn it into a handheld navigation device. It also supports dial-up networking (both via Bluetooth and USB), so you can use the Treo 750 as a modem for your laptop.

Now, here's where things turn a little sour. As usual, Palm decided to forgo Wi-Fi integration (the omission continues to baffle us,) and though it's easier to take with the support for Cingular's 3G/UMTS network, we're utterly disappointed that the Palm Treo 750 will not work on the carrier's HSPDA network at launch. As a little background, UMTS, which stands for Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, is a 3G technology and successor to the GSM standard, while HSDPA, an acronym for High-Speed Downlink Packet Access, is a 3.5G technology and the successor to UMTS. Both technologies are designed for better mobile phone performance by bringing broadband data speeds to your phone. But while UMTS enables streaming video and broadband Internet access with transfer speeds around 2Mbps, HSDPA improves upon that performance with the potential to hit up to 14.4Mbps (in reality, you'll average more in the 400Kbps to 700Kbps range). Clearly, it'd be great if the Treo 750 could support the faster HSPDA speeds, but that said, Cingular and Palm said they will offer a free HSPDA upgrade sometime in the first half of 2007. Better late than never, right?

Multimedia features remain unchanged. There's a 1.3-megapixel camera with video-recording capabilities and a 2X digital zoom. You get a basic set of customization options, including five resolutions (1,280x1,024, 640x480, 320x240, 240x180, and 160x120), a self timer, and burst mode. There is no flash, but the 750 actually did a decent job of taking photos in darker environments. Overall, picture quality was OK with fairly clean lines and acceptable color, but we found you really have to have a steady hand in order to get a nonblurry picture.

The Treo 750 comes equipped with a 1.3-megapixel camera and a self-portrait mirror but no flash.

Finally, Windows Media Player 10 Mobile is onboard, so you can listen to your favorite MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, and AMR music files; you also get album art, and WMP 10 Mobile is compatible with all PlaysForSure online stores. The smart phone can handle MPEG-4 video streaming, and if you have TV shows recorded on your Media Center PC, you can transfer them to your device for on-the-go viewing. It also works with Slingbox. Unfortunately, the Treo 750 will not work with Cingular Music and Cingular Video at this time.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; EDGE; UMTS) Palm Treo 750 in San Francisco using Cingular's network, and call quality was a mixed bag. Our callers reported good sound, while they sounded muffled to us. In addition, there was a noticeable hiss in the background. Activating the speakerphone yielded the same results. While there were no problems on the other end, we could still hear a hiss that degraded the overall call quality, though volume was adequate. On the bright side, we had no problems pairing the Treo 750 with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset.

Overall, we enjoyed relatively snappy performance from the Treo 750, though there were some slight delays when opening several Office documents. The Web-browsing experience was also good, as pages loaded fairly quickly; when the HSPDA support is added, it should give the download speeds a nice boost. We weren't all that impressed with the multimedia performance. Music playback through the phone's speaker was tinny, and we really had to turn up the volume to hear the track. Consequently, this made the song sound blown-out.

The Treo 750 is rated for 4 hours of talk time and up to 10 days of standby time. Sadly, the 750 fell short of the rated talk time by an hour.


Palm Treo 750 - black (AT&T)

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7