Palm Treo 800w - smartphone - CDMA review: Palm Treo 800w - smartphone - CDMA

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The Good The Palm Treo 800w brings the addition of Wi-Fi and GPS. The Windows Mobile 6.1 smartphone also offers EV-DO Rev. A support; a higher resolution touch screen; a slimmer design; and a 2-megapixel camera.

The Bad The Treo 800w can be sluggish at times and call quality could be better. The QWERTY keyboard may also give users some problems.

The Bottom Line With the addition of Wi-Fi and GPS, the Palm Treo 800w finally catches up to some of its competition and even offers a better design. The Windows Mobile smartphone will be a good fit for Sprint's business customers, if the battery life can keep up.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

The world may still be all abuzz with iPhone 3G talk, but believe it or not, there are other smartphones out there and Sprint has just landed a pretty darn good one. Today, Palm and Sprint unveiled the Palm Treo 800w, a Windows Mobile 6.1 smartphone targeted at business users. Now, we'll admit we've given Palm its fair share of criticism over the years for being behind the times and lacking innovation, and while the Treo 800w doesn't offer anything earth-shattering, it offers enough to shut us up for a little while.

You see, the Palm Treo 800w is the first Palm smartphone to finally offer integrated Wi-Fi and not only that, but GPS as well. It's also the first Sprint smartphone to ship with Windows Mobile 6.1 and EV-DO Rev. A support out of the box. All these features finally put Palm on the same playing field of HTC and Samsung. Palm has also revamped the design to make it smaller (all while still keeping a touch-screen and full QWERTY keyboard) and easier to use and navigate, making it a nice alternative to the bulky Samsung SCH-i760 and the Verizon Wireless XV6800. We're still conducting some performance tests, but we'd say the Treo 800w promises to deliver a well-connected and powerful smartphone for mobile professionals. We're just slightly worried about the battery life, so we'll let you know after a couple more days of testing. The Palm Treo 800w is available starting today for $249.99 with a two-year contract and after rebates and discounts.

When it comes to design, the Palm Treo 800w takes a little bit of the old and a little bit of the new. The overall shape falls more along the lines of previous Treos, but Palm has definitely trimmed it down and given the Treo 800w a more modern look. The smartphone measures 4.4 inches high by 2.2 inches wide by 0.7 inch deep and weighs 5 ounces. It may make for a tight fit in a pants pocket, but the Treo 800w is really quite a compact smartphone, especially considering it has a touch screen and full QWERTY keyboard. The smaller size and attractive slate blue color really adds much to the appeal of this device. Plus, the back features a soft-touch finish to give it a rubberlike texture.

The Palm Treo 800w is infinitely more compact than the Palm Treo 700p.

One big improvement over previous Treos is that the Treo 800w now has a 2.5-inch, 320x320 pixel resolution touch screen (versus 320x240), bringing it up to speed with the Palm-based Treos. The higher resolution, along with its 65,000-color output, makes text and images sharp and bright, but you really notice the difference as everything just looks smoother and less pixilated. The Today Screen was also enhanced with some useful features to make the Windows Mobile smartphone easier to use. There's now a Dial Lookup field, so you can easily search for contacts by entering the first couple of letters of a name. And in addition to Windows Live search, you can search for points of interest.

The navigation array below the screen is similar to the one found on the Palm Centro, while the full QWERTY keyboard is decidedly Treo. You get Talk and End buttons, a Start key, an OK button, shortcuts to your Calendar and in-box, and a five-way navigation toggle with a center select key. There are also two soft keys right below the display. We found the layout to be fairly roomy and didn't run into too many problems; though if anything, the Talk and End buttons could be bigger. The soft keys were particularly helpful for making the device easy to use with one hand.

The Treo 800w features a navigation array similar to the Centro, but keeps the signature Treo QWERTY keyboard.

Given that the Treo 800w is larger than the Centro, the QWERTY keyboard isn't as small and cramped. However, we didn't find it particularly roomy or easy to use either. There isn't a whole lot of spacing between the keys, so users with larger thumbs may experience some mispresses. We thought they also felt a bit stiff. With time, though, we think you should be able to click away easily.

On the left side, you'll find a volume rocker and a customizable button, while there's a stylus holder, an infrared port, and a microSD expansion slot on the right side. One very minor complaint is that the stylus was really flimsy, bending very easily under pressure. The top of the unit holds a Wi-Fi shortcut and ringer on/off switch. And unlike previous Palm devices, the Treo 800w now comes with a microUSB port on the bottom, rather than a multiconnector. This is where you'll connect your USB cable, power cord, and unfortunately, your wired headset. We say unfortunately because this limits you to using the included earbuds, which leave much to be desired, or you can get an audio adapter. Finally, the camera lens, self-portrait mirror, and speaker are located on the back.

The Palm Treo 800w comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a wired stereo headset, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.

The Palm Treo 800w represents a number of firsts for both Palm and Sprint, but the most notable additions might be the addition of Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) and GPS. Yes, we've been asking for Wi-Fi for years but Palm did one better and added the GPS radio--what a pleasant surprise. You can configure your wireless network with authentication settings and data encryption. Our review unit was immediately able to find and connect to our access point, allowing us to cruise the Web within minutes.

There's a one-touch Wi-Fi button on top of the smartphone for easy connection.

As for GPS, the Treo 800w works with Sprint Navigation, which offers turn-by-turn text- and voice-guided directions, traffic updates, local search, and more. Sprint Navigation's cost is free the first day, but afterwards, you will have to pay $2.99 per day or $9.99 per month for unlimited use. Of course, you can download other third-party navigation software. The smartphone also includes some navigation shortcuts. For example, the GPS integrates directly with your contacts list, so you can navigate to an address right from your phone book and you can search from points of interest right from the home screen with a preloaded map app.

The Treo 800w is also the first Sprint smartphone to ship with EV-DO Rev. A support out of the box. The Rev. A boosts download speeds from the 400Kbps-to-700Kbps range to 600Kbps-to-1.4Mbps range, while upload speeds will average about 350Kpbs to 500Kpbs (compared with EV-DO's 50Kpbs to 70Kbps). In short, you're going to get faster Web browsing, e-mail, and downloads--that is, if you're lucky enough to live in a coverage area. According to the carrier, the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network is available in 13,453 cities and 1,321 airports with a "vast majority" of that network upgraded to EV-DO Rev. A. You can check for your city on Sprint's Web site (Click the "Data, Email, and Multimedia" tab; Sprint Mobile Broadband Network areas highlighted in orange).

As a phone, the Treo 800w offers a speakerphone, smart dialing, speed dial, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging. The contact book is limited only by the available memory, and there's room in each entry for multiple numbers, e-mail addresses, instant-messaging handles, and birthdays. For caller ID purposes, you can assign a picture, one of 37 polyphonic ringtones, or a group ID. Bluetooth 2.0 is also onboard for use with mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, object exchange, and dial-up networking. To use the Treo 800w as a modem for your laptop, you will need to subscribe to a Sprint Power Vision Modem Plan, which costs $49.99 per month for unlimited data.

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