Palm's popularity in the office has been threatened for some time now by a barrage of other smart phones packed with features. Instead of taking this influx of competitors lying down, Palm is fighting back with the Treo Pro, Palm's most feature-packed phone to date. We took the Pro out and about to see what it was made of and if it's that much better than its predecessors.
The Palm Treo Pro will be available to buy on a monthly contract with Vodafone and through O2's business stores. You will also be able to pick it up SIM-free from eXpansys for around £400.
The Palm Treo Pro definitely looks better than any of its predecessors but we wouldn't go as far as saying it's the most attractive smart phone we've ever seen. While we expected to see some Palm styling, the Pro looks a little too close to the Palm Centro for comfort. Sure, the casing is thinner and there are some new buttons, but it's not enough of a change to get our blood pumping.
Whether you like the Pro's styling or not, it's definitely much thinner than any other Palm to date, making it more pocket-friendly. The touchscreen isn't the largest out there but it's fine for viewing emails and documents.
The Pro's Qwerty keypad is small and we would have preferred it if the keys were slightly larger and more raised but it is usable and after some practice you can type out long messages quite easily. As for scrolling through emails, you can use the touchscreen and stylus or the mechanical navigation key, either option working well depending on what you need to do.
At the top of the Pro you'll find a very useful toggle switch that allows you to easily put the phone in silent mode should you need to do it quickly during a meeting, for example. Even more useful, in our opinion, is the 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom of the Pro that allows you to plug in standard headphones -- that is something we've been waiting to see on a Palm phone for some time.
Making a more attractive device isn't the only thing Palm set out to do when it created the Pro -- it's one of the most feature-packed Palm phones to date. The whole thing runs on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, meaning that aside from being to able to hook it up to your work email via an Exchange server you can also create and edit Microsoft documents on the go.
We found that Windows Mobile ran smoothly on the Pro and using the touchscreen and keypad alongside the shortcut keys, was really enjoyable -- everything working as you'd expect it to. Of course, Windows Mobile is more fiddly to use than the Palm OS but Palm has done a good job at simplifying some of the processes.
HSDPA and Wi-Fi make the Pro a Web-friendly device and we didn't encounter any problems trying to connect to the Internet, nor did we have any problems while using the GPS to figure out our location. There's even a handy button on the side for quickly turning Wi-Fi on. Should you need to, you can also hook the Pro up to your laptop and use it as a modem, but make sure to check with your network first to ask about any additional data charges.
The Pro's 2-megapixel camera takes relatively good pictures in daylight but we would have liked to have seen a higher resolution camera and even more importantly a flash so that shots in low light came out better. We would also have liked to have seen a more finger-friendly music player or music hardware keys to go along with the headphone jack, making it a more media-friendly device.
Battery life is quoted at 5 hours talk time and up to 250 hours standby time. We found that with moderate use we got over two days from the battery, but this figure obviously decreased depending on how often we used features such as HSDPA and GPS.
This is without a doubt Palm's most complete phone to date and it handles itself well. While it doesn't feature a fancy 3D interface, the combination of hardware keys and touchscreen produces an enjoyable Windows Mobile experience. It doesn't have the finesse of the BlackBerry Bold or the allure of the iPhone 3G but it is a serious phone that provides the kind of support you'd need in the business world.
Edited by Marian Smith