Palms in hand might be worth an Apple in the offing
Alan Zisman (c) 2007 First published in Business
January 23-29, 2007; issue 900
High Tech Office
As I was writing this column, Apple
Steve Jobs announced the long awaited iPhone to instant acclaim from
traditional and new media.
Imagine: one device combining cellphone with e-mail and web browsing,
and even including a camera and a music player. Pity it won’t
available anywhere until June with pricing in the U.S. starting at
US$499. Even more of a pity that Canadian customers will have to wait
longer and pay more.
But before you succumb to iPhone-envy, take a deep breath. While slick,
the iPhone is far from the only gadget to combine phone, Internet,
camera and music. Previously, this column has looked at the Blackberry
Q, both with all those features, and both available now for
considerably less money.
experience of several generations of its Treo line blending all the
above-mentioned features with its PDA. As Apple was announcing its
iPhone, I was testing a pair of Treo models.
Both the Treo 700wx and 680 models are somewhat chubby compared with
the svelte Motorola Q or Apple iPhone. Both combine handy touch screens
(and optional stylus input) with small keyboards and include built-in
Bluetooth for communication with headsets, car kits and
Bluetooth-enabled computers and printers. Each has an SD expansion card
slot, handy for storing additional programs, music, photo or video
files. Nicely (and unlike the iPhone), the Treo batteries are easily
replaceable. Not so nice: you can’t use SD-format WiFi
– not even Palm’s – with these models.
promising built-in WiFi).
The Treo 700wx Smartphone is (like the Motorola Q) powered by Windows
Mobile operating system. Other Palm products run the Palm operating
system, though Palm’s hardware and software was split off
separate companies several years ago. The 700wx is available from Bell Canada
(from $399 with an air time plan) and supports that company’s
high-speed Ev-DO data network. By building this model on the Windows
Mobile platform, Palm is appealing to business IT departments with
built-in support for Microsoft Exchange servers. The standard set of
Pocket Windows applications means support for Word, Excel and
PowerPoint document formats.
The 240 x 240 pixel screen has less resolution than some
competitors’ models, especially noticeable when web browsing,
though the built-in Pocket Internet Explorer otherwise does a nice job
of displaying web pages. The 1.3 megapixel camera can be used for still
photos or video. The battery is rated for up to five hours of talk time
and 15 days of standby. Bell Mobility also offers the Palm OS-powered
(and similarly priced) Treo 700p.
The Treo 680 runs the Palm operating system and lacks the
700wx’s external antenna. It’s available from Rogers Wireless
(from $299 with plan) and, using quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE technologies,
should be usable internationally.
Its 320 x 320 pixel screen allows more web data to be viewed at a time
than on the 700wx, but its camera is a lowly VGA (640 x 480 pixel)
Palm includes a copy of DataViz
Documents-to-Go for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF support.
And the 680’s built-in Bluetooth can be used as a wireless
with many laptops (not true for the 700wx).
Battery life is rated at four hours talk time and 12.5 days of standby.
If you’re looking for one device to do it all, you could wait
an expensive model from Apple. But one of these Treos may meet your