Palm OS Version of Treo 700 Is Coming
Palm's Windows Mobile-based Treo 700w is getting a sibling that runs the Palm operating system: the Treo 700p.
Like the Treo 700w, the 700p is a cell phone-personal digital assistant hybrid that will support high-speed EvDO data networks. But while the 700w is available only from Verizon Wireless, Palm says both Verizon and Sprint--the two national carriers with EvDO networks--will sell the 700p. The carriers are expected shortly to announce details on the pricing and availability of the 700p.
The Treo 700p runs version 5.49 of the Palm OS (the Treo 650 runs version 5.45). In its hardware, however, the 700p is very similar to the 700w, with the same connectors for charging and syncing, the same Intel XScale 312MHz processor, the same 128MB of flash memory (60MB user-accessible), the same 1.3-megapixel camera, and the same SD card slot. One difference is that the 700p's screen resolution is 320-by-320 pixels, whereas the 700w's is 240-by-240 pixels.
The 700p also offers a useful feature inaugurated in the 700w for dealing with incoming calls you can't immediately answer: the ability to respond via text message. This can come in handy if you're in a meeting: The caller still gets your voice mail after several rings, but you can use a text message to elaborate or provide additional information (saying, for example, "I'm in a meeting, will call back in half an hour").
There are, however, several key differences between the Palm and Windows Mobile versions of the Treo 700. For starters, you can--out of the box--use the Treo 700p as a high-speed wireless modem that connects to a laptop or other PC via either USB cable or Bluetooth wireless technology. However, you will have to pay the carrier for a plan that supports this functionality (known as tethering), which the 700w does not currently offer. (Verizon Wireless has said it is working on enabling tethering, but will charge for the functionality when it does.)
The 700p is more multimedia-savvy than its Palm-based predecessors. It ships with Palm's first streaming multimedia application for viewing TV and other video streamed over the EvDO network.
Also included is the basic version of NormSoft's Pocket Tunes audio player, which has better playlist and other features than the Real Player in earlier Palm-based Treos.
If you upgrade to Pocket Tunes Deluxe (a $22 download from NormSoft), you can use the 700p with online music services that support Microsoft's Janus (PlaysForSure) digital rights technology, such as Napster or Rhapsody.
As well, the 700p comes with a built-in slide-show application that you can use in conjunction with the audio player to create shows with music.
Palm did make some minor tweaks to the 700w's button layout for the 700p. Instead of the Windows Mobile Start button (second from the left on the 700w), you get the Calendar button that occupied that position in the Treo 600 and 650.
Because some users were confused by the red right-hand phone-icon button's multiple functions in earlier Treos (it hangs up calls, connects and disconnects from the network, and turns the display on or off), Palm has moved many of those functions to the small right-hand button that controls on-screen options.
Palm has also made it easier to determine when you're sliding the phone-silencing button to the position you want: The phone vibrates when you silence it. It's a nice cue since it can be difficult to see the icons on either side of the button.
On the software side too, Palm has introduced a few improvements. A feature in earlier Palm-based Treos that lets you create a new contact entry when you get a call from a number that isn't already in your address book has been tweaked so you can add that number to an existing entry. (This is useful if a friend calls you from a new cell phone, for example.)
The 700p also has the ability to suspend an EvDO data session when you get an incoming voice call, and then resume it afterwards. Previous models simply disconnected you from data services, so you had to start all over again after a voice call.
Palm has once again bundled DataViz's useful Documents to Go (the new Version 8); the application is now in ROM along with the operating system, which means it won't vanish in a crash.
One feature of the 700w that didn't make it to the 700p: The ability to create photo-based speed-dial entries.
Stay tuned for PC World's hands-on review.