Impressive Treo 600

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At a Glance

Treo 600: An excellent PDA/cell phone hybrid.
Photograph: Marc Simon
Handspring's Treo 600 is the hottest new handheld in town, and rightly so. A radical departure from the company's previous clamshell PDA/cell phone hybrids, this unit combines a Palm-based organizer, a cell phone, a keyboard, and a camera in a sleek, silvery 5.9-ounce package that isn't much bulkier than less capable competitors. I looked at a preproduction GSM/GPRS model--a CDMA version is available, too. The Treo 600 is not perfect, but after testing one, I'm ready to swap it for my current PDA and phone.

The Treo 600 ranks as the first phone to ship with Palm OS 5. The device doesn't take advantage of the OS's support for higher-resolution displays, but its bright and crisp 1.75-inch-square screen is so small that the old 160 by 160 resolution looks fine. Also missing: built-in support for Graffiti or other handwritten input. The Treo does have a slot for SD/MMC memory and hardware cards.

Using a tiny lens located on the rear of the device, the Treo 600 captures so-so 640-by-480 images. Its Blazer browser made complicated Web pages readable, but I wanted the included POP3 e-mail client to send my outgoing e-mail before downloading it, which can take a while. The lags might frustrate heavy business e-mail users, but third-party software can sometimes address this problem.

Although usable, the small keyboard feels rather cramped. And an automatic keyboard lock prevents you from inadvertently making phone calls or otherwise using the device; but I sometimes had to press the unlock key several times before it worked.

Nevertheless, the Treo 600 fit well in my hand, either as a phone or as a PDA. And the battery life is terrific for this kind of device--three or four days between charges after moderate phone and heavy Palm use. I'd like a removable rechargeable battery, but the Treo 600 does so much right, I can forgive its minor flaws.

Handspring Treo 600

Powerful, attractive Palm PDA/cell phone with good battery life and many extras.
Price when reviewed: $500 to $700, less with new service plan or upgrade.
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At a Glance

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