palmOne Treo 650: a sushi fork
For the period of its eternal solitary isolation from all the world, the Japanese have invented a lot. But the most parasitical thing for yesterday, today, and tomorrow is sushi, a phenomenon of their lives. Of course, tamagochi and pokemons will no doubt stay with us for good, but believe me - you will hardly come across them in the uproar of the Russian capital. As to the raw fish and rice, they are literally on every corner. Well, what is special in the dubious viands? If there is so much supply, the demand will be no less than that. That's all fashion - it is there to dazzle anyone and everything around, blandly but forcefully taking aside from the usual. Confirmed eaters of it would recall their first experience of absorbing the overseas miracle. Those chips are something really special. However you try holding it in every possible way, you can't cope with it anyway. You spit upon the foolish trick, ask a fork from the waitress and get round to the dish in your customary way. Those devoted know what it is all about. So, just the same happens with the new Treo by palmOne. Since the times of the predecessor, the device hasn't undergone a revolution at all, but you feel that a lot of metamorphoses reminds of a change from chopsticks to a fork - the dish doesn't seem to have changed but it has turned much more amenable to handle and a bit more tasty.
|palmOne Treo 650 Specifications|
|Operating System||Palm OS 5.4|
|Processor||Intel XScale PXA270, 312 MHz clock speed|
|Display||Resolution – 320 x 320 pixelsColors displayed – 65 536|
|Camera||VGA (640 x 480 pixels)2x ZoomMirror for auto-portrait shooting|
|Memory capacity, MB||32 (21 - available to the user)Nonvolatile|
|Expansion slot(s)||SD/MMC with support for SDIO|
|Power supply:||Li-Ion, removable, 1800 mA*hr6 hours in the conversation mode300 hours in the standby mode|
|Dimensions, mm||113 x 59 x 23|
|Approximate price, $||580|
Despite the numerous miscalculations and evident shortcomings, Treo 600 can be without any allowance regarded a successful product indeed. This communicator is still in a surprising demand, and of course it is its exclusive character that makes it stay in demand. Until the recent times, this model was the only and unique of the Palm OS camp, let alone some undistinguished renegades. Meanwhile, the device was not bad at all by itself, so it would not be fair to move its own advantages far aside to the background. However, we shouldn't disclaim some evident flies in the ointment either. All in all, palmOne decided not to depart far from the good start, but to improve it over all the fronts.
Externally, the new Treo without false modesty resembles the predecessor. The device is compact enough - its dimensions and weight are much more than those of regular phones, but it fits within the limits of the most mobile communicators based on the Windows Mobile Phone Edition platform. Perhaps the only fundamental shortcoming of the local form factor is the exterior design of the antenna. This trait doesn't bring the novelty any good, although it is much less a nuisance at work than it can boast at first sight.
As to the designers' creative tricks, Treo 650 is unlikely to be at the top of perfection. The novelty looks smart enough, but no more than that. The stylish and original color combination did appeal to us. But the abundance of controls on the front panel certainly don't do any good to the communicator. Unlike it, SonyEricsson P910i disguised its intellectuality in an elegant way. In Treo 650, all is for show, which adds some drop of respect to the outfit of the novelty, but at the same time it takes off the charm of triviality. For instance, recall the delicate plainness of Qtek S100 to understand what is about. In fact, the latter lacked a very important detail - the integrated keyboard.
Since the times of Treo 650, the keyboard has undergone changes, albeit not much. It has turned more convenient and functional, in a word - it has grown prettier from head to foot. What especially appealed to us was the bright illumination of the keys, which makes using the keyboard all-weather indeed. Apart from the QWERTY layout, there are four integrated buttons to invoke applications, two phone keys for response and reject, as well as navigation joystick with the activity function. All in all, there is a bunch of elements - one more useful than the other.
The "geography" of Treo 650 components is like this: on the upper end there is a stylus compartment, a ring switch, an IR port, an expansion slot, as well as SIM card holder; on the left side, there are buttons for volume control and a user key which can be customized for particular purpose; in the bottom end, there is an outlet for headphones and a connector for synchronization; the right-hand end is free of any elements. As we see, all is logical, the part of debriefing should be better left to the usability section below, but we are now going deeper inside, closer to the heart of the device.
Inside Treo 650, there is Intel's PXA270 processor which does its hard job. The clock speed of the processor is 312 MHz which is quite a high bar for the Palm OS platform, although it is a bit too far to the records. In fact, our guest proved to be a true leader in practice. But that is only in comparison to those competitor products which we were able to obtain for tests, but they also cover the lion's share of Treo 650's existing analogs, namely:
|Operation speed test results (Speedy 4.1)|
|Model||palmOne Treo 600||palmOne Treo 650||Samsung SGH-i530||Qool QDA-700|
|Parameter||Time of running the test (the less, the better)|
|130%/Palm Vx||278%/Palm Vx||206%/Palm Vx||234%/Palm Vx|
As you can see, the device is also on par at the processor - other parts also performed as good.
While the memory speed in Treo 650 is fine, its capacity definitely leaves much to be desired. Of 32 Mb memory, only 21 Mb is available to the user. That is not much of course, but that is a nonvolatile storage which does not run the risk of losing the owner's data in case of the battery discharge of hard reset. Albeit a trifle, but so nice. The scanty memory capacity can be always amended with the local expansion slot. It is aimed at SD/MMC memory as well as SDIO peripherals. The latter is also an important factor in view of the lack of an integrated Wi-Fi module in Treo 650.
Of the communication facilities, apart for the GSM part, Treo 650 can only boast an IR port and Bluetooth. Well, a Wi-Fi would definitely not be out of place, and its lack doesn't bring any good to our guest. On the other hand, the telephone half of the communicator can boast support for the EDGE which is missing in most competitor products. The feature would be of interest to those who need data transmission faster than in GPRS, and it is likely to be available already this year. Besides, what's nice is the four operating ranges of the novelty, which makes Treo 650 flexible to various networks.
The screen is another step forward as compared to Treo 600. The new display now shines with 65,536 colors, is very bright and offers outstanding image quality. Even more than that - the maximum brightness level of the display of palmOne is higher than in the good old Tungsten T5. But the size of Treo 650 screen is small as before, which means the pixels have turned smaller with the image having grown more distinct. This state of affairs is quite favorable to the fonts, so reading books or traveling through the endless spaces of the World Wide Web using the new Treo is simply a pleasure. By the way, the sensor type of the screen hasn't gone anywhere, and the new stylus proved very nice and comfortable which deserves firm "10/10".
As to the power supply, Treo has also undergone changes. Now the communicator is energized from a powerful battery of replaceable type with quite impressive capacity as high as 1800 mA*hr. Like other guests of our test lab, Treo 650 has also experienced tedious trials and explored down to every millimeter. Due to a lucky concourse of circumstances, on the date of rendezvous with the novelty we got another freshest Palm OS communicator that had gone off the news a fortnight before - the Qool QDA-700. Since the devices are similar at both capabilities and prices, we decided to try Treo 650 in every possible way and complement its results with comparison data produced versus the direct competitor:
|Results of testing the time of offline operation|
|Mode||Time of offline operation, hr:min|
|palmOne Treo 650||Qool QDA-700|
|Video, maximum screen brightness, speaker||05:58||03:33|
|MP3, screen disabled, headphones||17:08||12:10|
|Regular operation, maximum brightness||07:45||04:48|
|Regular operation, medium brightness||10:27||05:43|
|Regular operation, minimum brightness||15:45||08:43|
As we can see, palmOne leaves no chances to its newly born "companion-in-arms". That's understandable - QDA-700 has a much less powerful battery with the resource-hungry hardware. On the other hand, it offers own weighty advantages, so we are expecting fierce battles for the buyers' wallets. The palmOne promises 6 hours continuous operation in the conversation mode with 300 hours in the standby mode. Basing on our tests, we arrive at the conclusion that the figures are evidently overstated, although not so much. In any case, Treo 650 proved a delight for its vitality – you rarely come across such a compact and at the same time durable communicator.
While messing around the neighboring components, we forgot about the most important - the camera. But that is not without purpose. In Treo 650, this "magic eye" is quite trivial and appears to be a VGA solution without a flash gun. But there is a mirror for auto-portrait shooting. As to the picture quality, the manufacturing company itself incidentally mentioned that the part was completely inherited from Treo 600 and then oaths that the software part has undergone essential modifications which have added to the shooting results. Well, that may be true, but we are used to judging by the facts, so we'd better share our own picture-taking experience:
For a camera of this class, the snapshots produced are of quite decent quality. Meanwhile, we are warning those to plan to print photos - the snapshots produced with Treo 650 are not the best for that purpose since the resolution of the camera is still a bit small for such applications. But you can easily send a MMS or store it in the electronic album - no problem. By the way, once a picture is taken the software adds vocal comments, allows saving, deleting, emailing it, or sending it as a MMS file. The files produced are in the JPEG format and can be of two types – 640x480 and 320x240 pixels resolution: not much really, but it suffices in most ways. The settings are not too numerous either. The camera does the courageous job of adjusting the white balance and contrast leaving the user only controlling the effects. The variety of effects is not vast either - the normal, monochrome modes, and sepia. Note that the effects are applicable to not only photo but video as well. In the latter case, video reels are recorded in 3GP files and offer 2 resolutions for selection: 320 x 240 and 176 x 144 pixels. The sound (of good quality either) follows the picture, so there won't be silent movies. In general, the picture looks simple but of good quality. Of course, it's not quite good that the settings are not so flexible, however, the high quality of snapshots recompenses for that asceticism.
As it should be, every smart companion like our guest is able communicating with a big computer or a notebook. But that is done with a cable, not a cradle. The cable can be also used for recharging thus uniting both processes. To be fair, we should note that recharging is possible via USB as well, but that process takes quite a time, so should be used only on exceptional cases.
In conclusion, let's briefly shed light on the "soft" part of the guest. Like any other palmOne' top-end product, Treo 650 is full of software from head to foot. This novelty is powered by Palm OS 5.4 operating system. Apart from the core software, the fresh Treo is shipped a whole pack of goodies one better than the other: Phone, Contacts, Calendar, VersaMail, Messaging, Media, Camera, Camcorder, Blazer, Real Player, Tasks, Memos, Calculator, World Clock, HotSync Manager, DataViz Documents To Go, AudiblePlayer, Palm eReader, Handmark PocketExpress (demo version), Zap! 2016, and Handmark Solitaire. On top of all these, the communicator is fully localized into Russian by Paragon Software, so even a rookie will easily find ways around the technical terms. Of special mention is the support for Exchange/Outlook, Lotus/Domino and Novell GroupWise in VersaMail, which will please not only corporate users but private persons as well, e.g. help synchronizing mail and calendar in more than a few seconds. The tandem with DataViz Documents To Go will allow opening and editing attachments in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. With Blazer web browser, you can easily submerge into the depths of the World Wide Web – it supports bookmarks, frames and download (e.g. melodies), and many more. In a word, even in the nominal package Treo 650 stands out with a superb collection of software. With a rich variety of third-party software (currently, over 20 thousand items on the date of writing the review), the communicator proves to be a Jack of all trades.
As we have already noted, Treo 650 turned out to be surprisingly mobile. The device proved a success in terms of weight and dimensions. In a word, a true magician for its capability.
Especially nice was the handy keyboard, and its availability in general. As to the "geography" of the components, all has been done at the superb level. The expansion slot and the IR port are one upper side of the housing, which means Treo 650 is comfortable for using memory cards, SDIO peripherals, and the bundled remote control proved up to the mark. The extra key for the user needs on the left facet will not be idle, and its customizability is true gift to the user. What disappointed us is the headphone connector. It is located in the bottom part and is designed for 2.5 mm devices, and the mono headset is not the best option. To be fair, we should admit the Treo makes quite a decent music player. We tested the device with a third-party headset using the embedded Real Player - all was playing and singing but to the best of its capabilities. The quality turned out to be on par, however it takes a long way to reach the ideal mark. Another disappointment was the lack of an integrated dictaphone. Recalling the similar situation in Tungsten T5, you start thinking if palmOne is trying to protect its business models from spies. In fact, there is a silver lining in the cloud. The communicator offers a rich pack of preset ring tones, and the ring volume level in Treo 650 did appeal to us, which can't be said about that of the vibro call which might have been higher. As regards the signal sensitivity, there is nothing to complain - all is smooth and fine.
Summing it up on tests with palmOne Treo 650, we can recommend the novelty to those fanciers who had plenty of the platform - we are sure you won't be disappointed. It is a bit more difficult with fanciers of other OS, since Palm OS even in Treo 650 has remained quite conservative, so worshippers of Windows Mobile and Symbian OS simply remain unconvinced and will be right in part. Only in part, because if we ignore the platform-specific prejudices, Treo 650 is an incredibly appetizing dish with a lot of goodies and quite reasonable price. There are some rare tine negative point which spoil the picture in fine details, leaving the whole thing really tasty. A perfect error-correction job, palmOne!