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Treo 600 Product Review
Posted: 03-Nov-2003 [Source: MobileTechNews]

[A hands-on look at the new features of the Treo 600.]

by Jean Panke, Mobile Tech News -- The dual-band CDMA version of the Treo 600 has been available in the US for several weeks via Sprint PCS. Now the quad-band is available via AT&T, T-Mobile, and Cingular. In the midst of this 600 frenzy, Mobile Tech News decided to see how the 600 stacks up against its predecessor, the Treo 300.

The first obvious difference between the 600 and the 300 is the bar phone form factor versus the flip-style of the 300. The 600 comes with a slip-in case. A leather case for $29.95 is also available. The GSM/GPRS version is silver and weighs 5.9 ounces compared to 6.2 ounces for the carbon-colored CDMA version. The 300 weighs in at 5.7 ounces.

The 600 continues to have a ringer silencer switch, a keyboard backlight, and a button that turns off the wireless mode while allowing access to the organizer (perfect for airplanes). A new feature is the 5-way navigation function which allows for easy movement between menus and to select menu items. There are also easily accessible buttons on the side for up and down volume control.

The main buttons on the front have been reorganized compared to the 300. The button on the far right instantly turns the display on or off and controls the Keyguard. They Keyguard manually disables all buttons and the touchscreen to prevent accidental presses in your briefcase or pocket. The next button over gives you access to messaging and SMS. Just left of the 5-way navigation key is the button accessing the Calendar plus City Time while the far left button accesses Phone and Blazer Web Browser applications. The 5-way navigation key gives instant access to Favorites, Web, Pictures, or Contacts for easy one-handed operation. The display for the 5-way nagivation is activated by pressing the Phone button. The Menu key on the bottom right brings drop-down menus into view providing access to many additional features.

Since the built-in camera is one of the major changes in the 600, we were interested in the ease of use and picture quality. The 600's camera takes 12-bit color pictures at a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 pixels (0.3 mega pixels).

To access the Pictures application, press the Phone button and then the Pictures option on the 5-way navigation key. To take pics, use the viewfinder to aim and Capture the picture by pressing Center on the 5-way navigation to hear the analog camera shutter sound. Then you can choose to Keep, Discard, or Share the photo.

To Send a photo, access e-mail by pressing To and the Contacts List appears for sending to single or multiple addresses or to a new address. An optional text message can be attached as well. Next press Send and your photo is on its way. Besides taking and sending photos, one can be assigned to a phone number for Picture Caller ID.

The 600 syncs with your PC using the Palm Desktop synchronization software that comes on the CD with your Treo. A USB HotSync cable plugs into an available USB port on your computer and connects to the end of your Treo. The Treo also has an SC/MMC Expansion Card Slot which allows you to expand the capabilities of your phone using a Secure Digital (SD) card or Multi-Media Card (MMC).

Although the overall size of the 600 is smaller, each Treo 600 key has more surface area than those on existing Treo products, and letters and numbers have been enlarged for better readability. The QWERTY keyboard is fully integrated.

Third party applications available for downloading include PDA Net and pTunes. PDA Net lets you use your Treo 600 as a wireless modem connecting into the USB port on your laptop. pTunes is an MP3 player. The SD 256MByte card I bought holds 10 of my favorite music CDs.

The 600 has the new Palm 5.2.1 operating system, a 144 MHz ARM processor, 32 MB RAM and an updated Blazer Web Browser that now includes support for JavaScript and frames.

Strengths: Overall picture quality messaging with the Treo 600 is great. The resolution has decent imaging quality and the larger screen certainly enhances picture viewing. The storage capacity is much greater than a typical camera handset. So far the Treo 600 we've been using has 62 photos stored with room for 467 more. There is also an Online Picture Mail Inbox option that allows all stored photos to be managed by organizing them into albums for uploading or downloading as needed.

Weaknesses: The voice message application feature is missing as Sprint has apparently chosen not to implement voice attachments with the CDMA version of the 600. The GSM version of the Treo 600 does support MMS attachments in emails. The smaller form factor is super, but the protective flip cover on the 300 is gone. One eccentricity of this handset is the need to have the 600 out of its case in order to have the lens unobstructed. An inconvenience for sure, but on the other hand, the case does offer some protection to the lens when not in use.

Overall: The dual speakers allowing for improved speaker phone quality are a nice feature. The new keyboard layout and spacing makes entering text easier and faster overall. The design blends what is best in phone form factor availability along with the bells and whistles of PDAs and camera handsets. The 600 is a nice step in the direction of a fully-integrated unit.

The Treo 600 comes as close to "having it all" as any smartphone on the market today.

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