Way back in the beginning, there was a company called Palm. Palm had innovation, it was a catered to businesses, when mobile devices were only carried by businessmen. Expanding its reach from basic digital assistants that kept calendars and contacts on a simple operating system called the Palm OS, to a range of mobile devices that gave you access to anything at anytime and is now available in both Palm and Windows Mobile flavours.
This time around, Palm brings an unlocked Treo Pro to the table. The Treo Pro’s claim to fame is its ability to offer a ‘True end to end Enterprise Solution’. This review will cover the device from a non Enterprise perspective. The Treo Pro comes in a lightweight PDA form. Full QWERTY Keyboard and best of all, it runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional. According to Wikipedia, in Q3, 2008, Windows mobile held a 13.6% market share ranking it fourth overall, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartphone. Sporting a 400MHz processor, the Treo Pro is more than capable running multiple tasks. Long gone is the traditional home button, it has now been replaced with an ok button. There are seven additional buttons. Talk, End, Start menu, Calendar, messages, a central Palm button that is surrounded by a silver four way direction circle. The top of the phone has the mute and power button, leaving the volume rocker and a camera button on the side. To round out the device a stylus is included and sits flushed at the base of the phone. With everyone wanting a touch screen phone, but yearning for a keyboard, this device does double duty, sporting both a full size keyboard and a touch screen.
With so many devices running Windows Mobile 6.1, there is no need to go into the features, instead the focus of this will be on the Treo itself and seamlessly integrating it into your life. The main selling point of the Treo is it is available unlocked. This gives you the option to use any GSM carrier anywhere in the world. Per the datasheet provided by Palm, the Treo Pro balances simplicity and productivity — including email, Wi-Fi, GPS, web and UMTS/HSDPA network capabilities — to meet the needs of businesses and end users alike. Its thin design blends a flush, high-resolution color touch screen, one-touch buttons and a full QWERTY keyboard. The removable battery packs up to five hours of talk time and enough strength for the business user’s needs, offering a powerful yet effortless mobile experience. Available for a suggested retail price of $549 through the Palm online store, it is competitively priced to match other business specific devices. From first glance you can tell the device is made with the business professional in mind shown by the full QWERTY keyboard to the semi-gloss finish, it definitely stands out as a professional device and not a toy.
Mobile devices have come so far that the need for a standalone GPS has almost completely gone by the wayside. With the Treo Pro you can use Google Maps or the built in TeleNav Application. Google maps uses cell tower and Wi-Fi to find your location, while TeleNav uses the built in GPS. Providing voice navigation and turn by turn directions you never have to handle the device while driving. There is an option to ‘map to’ an address from a contact which can come in very handy. No need to print out directions or bother with an expensive GPS solution.
Windows Mobile Device Center for Vista makes syncing with any windows mobile device easy. Active Sync has always been a headache for many people, and moving to the new solution is a welcomed change. This also explains why a software CD isn’t included in the package.
The Wi-Fi application has improved greatly over the last few devices. With the ability to connect to the following network types: Open, Shared, WPA, WPA-PSK, WPA2, WPA2-PSK Palm has made sure that all business needs are covered. Connecting and disconnecting to the Wi-Fi is as simple as pushing a button thanks to the dedicated Wi-Fi button on the device. Another important feature of this device is the integration of Windows Live. From the home screen you simply sign in with your Windows Live id and all of your email, contacts and messenger services are readily available. That brings the seamless integration to the device. In order to complete with all the current devices today, a PDA-type device must have a great/killer browser. The Treo Pro offers the ability to see web pages in their full form. Pages render at amazing speed, and can be navigated with ease thanks to the full keyboard.
Today the average cell phone user sends at least five text or picture messages per day. With Windows Mobile 6.1, the Treo Pro offers text and picture messaging that is displayed in a chat-view. This allows entire conversations to be followed and continued without the need to open and close messages. E-mail is pretty standard, it takes less than a few minutes to setup and supports all the major email accounts, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, MobileMe etc… On the Enterprise side of things, you have the option to have email pushed to you, but on the regular consumer side, it pulls every few minutes based on your settings.
So what does this mean for the business consumer that is looking for a device in a world of iPhones and Blackberries? The Treo stands out as a device that will meet the needs of any businessman, e-mail, GPS, messaging, and enough flexibility to be used around the world. The Treo Pro goes back to basics; it delivers all of the above without the need for many of the bells and whistles you see on many of the other mobile devices. When you pick up a Treo, you know you’re picking up a business device, and most of all you know that you won’t have to spend days trying to figure out how to use it. It can be considered an out of the box ready to go device.