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REVIEW: Vodafone Palm Treo 750v Windows Mobile Pocket PC
Posted by Arne Hess - on Saturday, 21.10.06 - 18:09:24 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 59502x
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Since earlier this month, Palm's latest Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition, the Palm Treo 750v, is available exclusively from Vodafone Europe and will be soon released in other parts of the world as well. The Treo 750v is Palm's first Windows Mobile-based Pocket PC which is released outside the U.S. The previously released Treo 700w (as well as the lately released 700wx) were available in North America only because they are supporting EVDO instead of GSM or UMTS which the Treo 750v supports now.
However, like all latest Palm Treo's the Treo 750v is also featuring a QWERTY thumb keyboard which makes it - potentially - a great messaging device.

The Treo 750v is based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC which means it's a Pocket PC Phone Edition with touch screen. Sporting quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE and triband UMTS makes it a real world traveler since the device can virtually be used in any GSM or UMTS network around the globe. In addition, the Treo 750v supports Bluetooth 1.2 (including A2DP and AVRC stereo profile), IrDA but lacks W-LAN.
The device is powered by a 300 MHz Samsung CPU with 128MB ROM and 64 MB RAM which can be extended with miniSD memory cards.<

The TFT touch screen supports 240x240 pixels displaying 65k colors. On the back, the device is sporting a 1.3 megapixel camera without a flash and misses a front facing camera for video telephony (if supported by the UMTS network).

The removable 1200 mAH Lithium-ion battery should provides a talk time of up to 4.5 hours in GSM or 2.5 hours in UMTS with an estimated standby time of up to 10 days!
The device measures 111x58x213 mm and weights 154 grams.

The sales pack includes everything you need to start including the device and stylus, the battery, a 110 - 220v charger including several international power adapters for Europe, UK, Australia and the U.S., a USB sync cable (not in the photo bellow), several manuals and quick-start guide and CD-ROMs:

As said before, the Palm Treo 750v is a Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition, even - on the first sight - it might looks like a Windows Mobile Smartphone (and Palm itself is talking about the "Treo smartphone"). The used materials makes the device looking very valuable and the blue soft-touch finishing (very similar to the Motorola V3x) makes it a comfortable holding.
On the front you have the 240x240 square touch screen, above the speaker with a notification LED and bellow the thumb keyboard. On the backside you have the 1.3 megapixel camera with the self-portrait mirror and the loudspeaker which is used for handsfree calls or during the audio playback:

On the left, the device is sporting the volume buttons and a customizable button. On the right, it's sporting the IrDA port only plus a flap which protects the miniSD card and also hides the (Windows Mobile typical) reset button:

On the top you have a pretty unique (for Windows Mobile devices) ringer on/off switch which lets you easily mute the device. On the bottom you have from left to right a 2.5 mm stereo headset jack, in the middle the proprietary USB-connector, Palm calls "Multi-Connector" and on the right the separate power connector:

The thumb keyboard is absolutely superior and clearly arranged; it might be the best of its class. On top, left and right from the 5-way navigator, you have the two soft keys, phone/send button, the Windows Mobile Start and OK buttons and the power/end button.
Bellow is the thumb keyboard (here the German QWERTZ version) with the separated (silver/grey) number keys. The keyboard is well dimensioned and all keys are easy to press. Unlike similar devices, the standard keyboard hasn't have too many second functions, only really often used characters like the @, the " or ( and ) are available straight from the keyboard, using the (silver/grey unnamed) function key in the lower left corner. The Alt key opens a pop-up on the display where you can select all other necessary special characters from:

In addition to the keyboard, you can also use the stylus to navigate through the menus and to enter texts. However, during the past 2 weeks, I haven't used the stylus too much at all:

So much about the hardware but the Palm Treo 750v isn't alone, it has some strong competitors namely the HTC Hermes and the HTC Excalibur. While the Hermes basically features the same specs, it adds W-LAN a 2 megapixel camera and a front facing video camera. On the other hand, the Excalibur is a Windows Mobile Smartphone without UMTS but it's featuring W-LAN and not everybody wants to have touch screens for mobile phones:

So let us come to the software integration. As before with the Palm Treo 700w, Palm hasn't used Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS just out of the box but tweaked it where appropriate and I have to admit, that Palm is fist class in making the Windows Mobile OS even better and more usable/intuitive.
Let us start with the Today screen. As you can see bellow, beside the standard information the Today screen features two new input fields and a new soft button.

The upper contact field either allows you to enter a phone number, right from the Today screen or searching for a contact to get all communication methods of the selected contact displayed (similar to Windows Mobile Smartphone's Smart Dial). A single press on the green talk button dials either the entered or selected number:

Unfortunately you can not send a text, multimedia or E-Mail message right from the Today screen as well but you can only dial phone numbers.

The second field links to Google's mobile version. Whatever you are looking for, just enter the search term right on the Today screen and press the action button. The Treo 750v will opens the Internet Explorer Mobile automatically and provides you the search results:

Since the Palm Treo 750v is a Vodafone exclusive device (yet), for sure it also supports Vodafone Live!, Vodafone's WAP service. However, even more important, it fully supports Vodafone Live! for UMTS which means it also supports Vodafone's MobileTV service which lets you either watch selected live TV channels or specially produced TV channels:

But the streaming application (it's not the Windows Media Player Mobile even if it looks similar) also reveals who manufactures the Treo 750v: it's the - in the Windows Mobile world - well known ODM HTC aka High Tech Computer Corp. which also manufactures for T-Mobile, O2 and others:

Talking about media streaming and mobile entertainment: The Treo isn't a device for hard working professionals only but thanks to the UMTS support it also works perfectly with Sling Medias Slingbox. So if you want to watch just the real TV and not the pre-selected "MobiTV", install the Sling Player Mobile and fire up the Slingbox. In my tests via Vodafone Germany's UMTS network, I've reached speeds up to 200 Kbps and more:

If you just want record your own videos or snap photos, you can use the 1.3 megapixel camera. It's not too bad but as for most Windows Mobile devices, far away what other mobile phones have to offer today (click the sample photo to see the original reolution):

Okay, but back to the professional aspects of the Treo 750v. One of the devices strengths were the messaging capabilities including the support for Vodafone Germany's Push E-Mail service which is based on Microsoft's Messaging and Security Feature Pack (MSFP) and Vodafone provides either a hosted solution for customers without the appropriate infrastructure or for sure it can access corporate infrastructure as well:

Interesting enough is, that the Inbox isn't including SMS and MMS but it's used for E-Mail accounts (Active Sync, POP3 and IMAP4) only:

For SMS and MMS, Palm added a separate application but it's not just a cheap copy of the Windows Mobile Inbox but it can do even more. From this Messaging application you can write SMS and MMS message. After started, it provides a typical unified inbox view:

Tapping New opens the message composer where you can even add emoticons:

If you get a reply from the recipient of your previous sent SMS, the Treo 750v indicates the newly received message with a notification pop-up which already contains the message. If you jump into the Messaging inbox again, you get the list of all received messages again. However, please notice the different icon, left from the latest message:

This icon indicates, that the message you've received is an answer to a previously sent message which is displayed in chat style now. From here you can simply answer to the received message again:

No question, that's a pretty handy application and it makes even more fun to send and receive SMS messages that way (even if it is not new for GSM devices, Nokia introduced that kind of chat styled SMS messages a couple of years ago, it's new for Windows Mobile devices).

As I said before, the same Messaging application is also used for MMS but the way how MMS is integrated is pretty handy. If you start a new message, this message is a SMS message by default. However, the menu allows you to add media files (like photos, videos or audio files) and at the moment you add a media file to the message, it switches from SMS to MMS:

This is really handy since you don't have to think about the way you want to write a message before you start but you can simply switch from one to another style.

Last but not least, because the Treo 750v is a productivity tool as well, Palm has licensed the Picsel Viewer which allows to view all kind of file formats including Microsoft Office files and PDFs:

For sure, since the device is based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile for Pocket PC, it also includes Pocket Word and Pocket Excel to create and edit documents and Pocket PowerPoint to view presentations. Looks like Palm just want to make sure, users can really open all received file formats.

Final Conclusion

First of all, the Palm Treo 750v is a great device, even if it has some weakness' here and there. It's great looking and has the right size. It feels rocking solid and features nearly everything I expect from a Windows Mobile device. The thumb keyboard is a pleasure to use, it's well balanced between size and usability and the overall integration makes the device easy to use, even without a stylus. While a scroll wheel would be a great addition, it also works perfectly without.
Nevertheless, the real highlight are Palm's own applications which makes a great operating system even better. Quite frankly, Microsoft should consider to license these extra apps from Palm (even if I'm sure Palm wouldn't sell it since it makes the Treos so unique) but the way how the Today screen dialing is integrated makes the Treo 750v a real mobile phone. The lack of contact dialing was always a reason why I've never used a Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition as my main mobile phone. This changed with the Treo 750v and it was a pleasure to use it as my main mobile phone the past days.
Another handy application, for me who is an addicted SMS and MMS user, is the Messaging application. I enjoy both - the chat-like message style as well as I don't have to think which kind of message I want to send as next. I can just start and make my mind while writing the message.

The (worldwide) UMTS support is great, it would allow me to use the device around the globe for voice and data. While I don't need a front facing camera for video telephony, the square 240x240 display is a real pain; it's simply too small for such a data device . A device, supporting mobile data speed of up to 384 Kbps, should get a better display but this isn't Palm's fault at all. The next screen size - 320x320 - isn't supported by Windows Mobile (something Microsoft has to fix asap) yet.

While UMTS is great, I also miss the inbuilt W-LAN. Sure, during the past weeks there were a couple of discussion if W-LAN is required or not and frankly, in my humble opinion it is necessary for such a device. In the morning, after I stand up and while the coffee maker is doing its job, I'm checking my E-Mails from my Windows Mobile devices. Here it would be very handy, if I could access the Internet via my DSL connection. Same if I want to watch a movie in the bed (or listen some of my tracks from my Media Center) which I prefer to do via my LAN instead of using a WAN since my LAN provides way better speed than UMTS or even HSDPA can provide.
While commuting, I don't need W-LAN at all and I'm not the kind of guy watching around for public HotSpots but in the office as well as at home, W-LAN would be much appreciated and indeed I'm using it regularly on Windows Mobile devices.
Another weakness is the absence of a mini USB port but Palm is using its own connectors. I've already said it before - I like to use one single connector with my devices since I can share my chargers, my car charger and sync cables across all my devices. Now I need another propriety cable again and the review pack I've received missed the USB cable. Since it features Palms own connector, I wasn't able to use any of my other USB cables but had to sync the device via Bluetooth.

So what can I say, would I buy the Treo 750v today (since I have to send it back to Vodafone Germany next week which thankfully loaned me the device for the review, I have to buy it myself if I would like to continue to use it)? No, I wouldn't but only because of the missing W-LAN support. This would be the only reason which keeps me away from the 750v since I expect W-LAN support for today's Pocket PC Phone Edition devices. If you say you don't need W-LAN at all because you have a flat UMTS fee or because you don't access your local W-LANs at all, the Palm Treo 750v might be the right choice.
Quite frankly, as soon as Palm launches the follower of the 750v and this follower includes W-LAN, I'm the first one to buy it (even if all the rest stays unchanged).

Cheers ~ Arne

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