Palm Treo Pro Review

News 17:33, 15 Sep 2008

We review the Palm Treo Pro; a more sophisticated Palm device running on Windows Mobile Professional

Palm handsets aren't the most tempting for businessmen or consumers (just look how unpopular the Palm Centro was), but the Treo Pro is a whole new kettle of fish.

The BlackBerry-style device runs on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, meaning for starters it features a touchscreen. Most Windows Mobile touch screens are a little unresponsive, but then comes along the Palm Treo Pro.

We've been testing this handset for well over a week now, and there's no contest between this and the rather substandard Samsung i900 Omnia. The screen responds to even the softest touch which is great when you consider many Windows Mobile handsets don't even respond to a hard poke.

The Palm Treo Pro feels comfortable and solid in the hand, but the super-glossy rear attracts fingerprints like a magnet. Below the screen are flat keys built into the casing that look like touch sensitive buttons, but are actually push. Here lie the essentials; Windows shortcut key, OK button, calendar shortcut and messaging shortcut keys. In the centre is a four-way navigation button with another 'OK' button in the centre - a little bit overkill maybe, when you take into consideration the Palm Treo Pro is also touch screen.

This overkill also becomes apparent when the Qwerty keyboard comes into play.

There is a full Qwerty keyboard below the screen, which comprises soft plastic buttons. Although they might be a little small for a lot of fingers, they're made easier to press thanks to a healthy gap between each key. This means you won't press the neighbouring key by accident.

If you'd rather use something more virtual there is of course a virtual Qwerty keyboard - a Palm skinned one which features much larger keys that the bog standard Windows Mobile one and is easier to use with a stylus.

There is also the usual Transcriber, Block Recognizer and Letter Recognizer options for text input, too.

The most irritating thing about the Palm Treo Pro is the fact that there isn't actually a simple on and off switch as you'll find on all other handsets. Even if you remove the battery and then replace it, the handset turns itself back on. The only thing you can do is turn the phone functions off, so basically put it into aeroplane mode. To do this, you press down the on/off switch on the top of the handset. The fact you can't physically turn the handset off is a real gripe, especially as the battery isn't the most long-lasting. While using the device over the weekend without a charger to hand, I had to take the battery out just to preserve some battery power.

Multimedia wise, the camera is nothing but awful in dark conditions. In fact, even in fairly bright circumstances, the photos come out dark and drab. Video is useless without a light unless your subject is wearing freshly laundered whites, and even then you'll only see their clothes in photos and videos.

In an attempt to experiment with the market (read: no Windows software licensing), Palm has scrapped the need for a Windows ActiveSync CD in the box with the Palm Treo Pro. Although Palm insists this was innovated to allow less packaging and ease of synching, the lack of an ActiveSync CD is mildly irritating.

Instead of installing the software on your PC, you plug the device into your computer which then detects whether the PC you're using already has ActiveSync loaded. If not, it uses your Internet connection (of course, if you're connected to a WiFi/Ethernet network) to download ActiveSync from Windows' website. Useful. Of course, only if you have an available Internet connection otherwise you can't sync up your device with your computer. Palm thinks this makes it easier to use if you travel a lot, for example, or use a range of different computers.

There's GPS integrated into the Palm Treo Pro, plus Webraska SatNav software. This requires a monthly fee to be active, and you won't find any free software like Google Maps to help you find your way. Webraska isn't the most advanced software out there, when you consider CoPilot, and of course TomTom have both conquered the Windows Mobile 6 SatNav software issues and are much better at creating routes and navigating you there.

For connectivity, there aren't any surprises with WiFi and HSDPA both starring on this fully featured Palm handset.

With the Palm Centro performing so badly, it is satisfying to see that using the Windows Mobile 6 platform is certainly advantageous for Palm. The Treo Pro is certainly a business winner, with a top push email service, and almost every feature you need to use the device for business purposes. It's just a shame the pleasure aspect has been so severely overlooked.

Palm Treo Pro Info

Typical price: £400 SIM free

Latest Palm Treo Pro Prices

Pros:
Qwerty keyboard
Windows Mobile 6 Professional
Ultra-responsive touchscreen
Solid build

Cons:
Awful camera
No on/off function
No free SatNav software included

Verdict: A fantastic attempt from Palm, but lacks the multimedia features to compete with other WM smartphones

Rating:

More info: Palm website

Recycle your phone: Sell Palm Treo Pro

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