Nice phone - pity about that screen though

, posted: 25-Jun-2004 23:36

Is it a phone or a personal digital assistant (PDA)? That's the first question that pops up when you see the PalmOne Treo 600, which manages both functions, and does so rather well.

PalmOne has got the dimensions pretty much right with the Treo 600. It's small enough to fit into your jacket pocket, but large enough for the "thumb-board" with a standard QWERTY key layout to be usable. Most importantly, while the Treo 600 is larger than your average mobile, you don't feel like you're putting a "geek
brick" to your head while talking on it.

Although it's faster typing with two thumbs, the Treo 600 works nicely when used one-handed as well. There is a stylus pointer to use on the touch-sensitive 4.57cm screen, but once you get used to the keyboard, the stylus is rarely used for day-to-day functions.

The solidly built Treo 600 is surprisingly light at about 170g, despite a high-capacity lithium-ion battery. More
storage for things like MP3 files is available through Secure Digital (SD) and/or MultiMedia Cards (MMC), which fit into a slot on top of the Treo 600. None are included with the phone, however.

Thanks to the high-capacity battery, the Treo 600 is said to give six hours of talk-time and last 10 days on
standby. We didn't have the phone long enough to test the battery life accurately, unfortunately.

In terms of telephone features, the Treo 600 is a GSM quad-band world phone, so you should be able to use it outside New Zealand. You also get a speaker-phone facility, six-way calling, and headset jack for hands-free operation.

Internet connectivity is courtesy of General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) at a rate of up to 64kbps. The internet applications like web browser and email client work well, but could be expensive to use at up to $10 per megabyte.

Both the keyboard and screen are brightly lit, making the Treo 600 usable inside and outside. Even in the sun the screen is easily readable. Talking of the screen, it's actually the least good feature of the Treo 600. The resolution is only 160 by 160 pixels, and has an odd 11.5-bit colour depth for 3375 simultaneous hues. This is fine for the Treo's applications, but less so for Web browsing and using the 640 by 480, 0.3 megapixel camera built into the phone. Given the phone's high price - $1500 - the low-resolution screen is a bit disappointing.

The Treo 600 has an infra-red port for beaming things like contact info to other phones, but no Bluetooth support - again, an odd omission on a pricey phone. A good software bundle with typical PDA applications like a calendar, address book, notepad, to-do list, games, and picture viewer for photos taken with the camera are bundled with the Treo 600. You can buy more applications over the Web too, like a better organiser.

Also good is the Palm Desktop bundle for Windows and Macintosh. This lets you manipulate the information on the Treo 600 from your computer, and while it's basic, it works well and is easy to use. It's often quicker to enter your appointments using the computer keyboard, then upload them to the Treo 600.

Overall, the Treo 600 is worth considering if you want a "PDA phone". It's easy to use, has a full keyboard and comes with enough software to get you going right out of the box. However, the screen could have higher resolution and we missed Bluetooth support too.

PalmOne Treo 600 Smartphone

* Price: $1500 including GST or $749 on a 36-month Vodafone plan.
* Herald Rating: 7/10
Available from Vodafone NZ

Pros: Nice size, full thumb keyboard, good software bundle
Cons: Low-resolution screen, no Bluetooth support.

Other related posts:
Travelling gear
Sony Tablet S reviewed
Nokia N9 reviewed

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