PalmOne Treo 600 Smart Phone

26 Aug 2004

Product: Smart phone
Price: €599

Phones blended with organisers are usually loaded with all kinds of extras that never get used. Therefore, these smart phones and their users may never fully appreciate the device’s potential. Thankfully this is not the case with the PalmOne Treo 600. As integrated devices go it is excellent, combining a no-frills personal organiser with phone software that is intuitive and powerful.

When analysing proper usage of PDAs there are two types in the world: users of Pocket Windows devices and Palm users. The former are most likely Johnny-come-lately types that have switched to wireless working and gizmos in the past few years and their device is crammed with too much software that they’ll never use.

The latter are a more seasoned lot – they’ve been loyal to Palm since their first taste of the Palm Pilot in the Nineties, have customised their device with the software that only they will ever use and are like a secret society whereby there’s a smug satisfaction in zapping business cards at one another at conferences.

The Treo 600 will most likely appeal to this latter group which, having led the wireless working vanguard, must have been feeling neglected during the reign of devices such as the Nokia 9000 (Symbian) family and sleek products such as O2’s XDA. This is effectively the much-loved Palm Pilot of yore, except it has the software that turns it into a phone and a good one at that.

In one sense the device comes with just enough pieces of technology (calendar, contacts, to-do list, memo pad, calculator, world-time converter and so on) to make it an organiser, but it is backed up with sophisticated wireless communications to make it a sufficient web browser and device for receiving and sending email, SMS, MMS and make phone calls.

In fact, while it is understood that O2 and Vodafone are currently trialling the product, it promises to offer vigorous competition for the BlackBerry device currently being championed by both players. In the UK, Orange has described the Treo 600 as its ‘hero phone’, given its reliability for web and mail and its contribution to a steady rise in average revenue per user. I found its Qwerty keyboard a tad small but once you’ve got used to it, entering text and accessing information is a doddle. Hardware wise, it is a very sturdy and robust device that will appeal to most seasoned mobile warriors.

The device also comes with an integrated digital camera that unfortunately earns it a could-do-better mark. Although the large screen promises potentially excellent digital photography usage, the resolution and quality of the resultant pictures were sadly not the best.

However, as a communicator, the device – a quad-band GSM/GPRS machine that should work anywhere in the world – is second to none. My favourite application was the SMS editor, as exchanges of messages are managed just like in a chatroom thread – complete with emoticons such as ;-).

Despite looking a little on the large size, the device is extremely sleek in design and light to handle. Surfing the internet is super fast (in the right coverage area), although most webpages aren’t ideally laid out for browsing on pocket organisers.

This device could be the manna from heaven that zealous Palm users have been waiting for and should justify their patience. Early evidence suggests that business-wide users in Ireland have already begun snapping up the device.

By John Kennedy