Product review: Palm Treo 680

17 Apr 2007

Long-term users of personal digital assistants (PDAs) who made the inevitable move to smart phones tend to be quite religious about their devices of choice. Users of the old Palm Pilot will find their faith renewed with the new Palm Treo 680.

Admittedly, I wasn’t a big fan of the Palm 750V, which marked the opening of a grand alliance between Palm and Microsoft in the push email stakes as they took on their grand nemesis Research in Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry product.

The 750V was a brave statement of intent on behalf of both companies. It was perfectly suitable as a productivity device, easily accessing contacts and calendar information and checking email and the internet on the move.

For anyone new to the Palm family and au fait with Windows, it was a marriage made in heaven. But I could readily appreciate how alien the 750V must have been for traditional Palm fans who grew up with a particular operating system (OS) since the Nineties that has changed very little since.

It can be said the PDA is officially dead. Players like Dell have killed off production, while research from Canalys shows that year-on-year market growth for converged smart phone mobiles in 2006 was 26pc. With unit shipments set to exceed 77 million by 2009 Palm clearly wants a piece of the action.

The Treo 680 is built on the same chassis as the 750V so it looks identical but the similarities end there.

The 680 is ultimately a return to form for the Palm family, boasting the same standard OS but with a few nifty embellishments.

It has a handy ‘home’ screen for the quad-band mobile phone element of the device that allows you to slip seamlessly between contacts, voicemail, email and Bluetooth.

The quad-band feature lets the device work anywhere in the world. It also comes with 64MB of storage, three times the memory of the original Treo 650 smart phone. Users can also add up to 2GB of storage with expansion cards.

The device is ultimately being positioned as a productivity device, with email on the go, and comes with the ability to view, edit and share Microsoft Word and Excel documents.

My ultimate test for new phones is how quickly and easily I can get it working with my hands-free Bluetooth car kit and in this respect setting it up was very straightforward.

The only drawback for the device is really its size and weight. The BlackBerry Pearl by comparison is slimmer and lighter but performance-wise they do the same things.

The Treo 680 is a return to form for Palm and a relief for die-hard followers. However, I am hoping that Palm is already hard at work on a slim and slinkier version.

Price: €429

Pros: Reliable and steady, a true return to form for Palm
Cons: Heavy. Do not carry inside a favourite suit jacket

By John Kennedy