capsule review

Palm Treo 700p

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At a Glance
  • Palm Treo 700P smartphone - Sprint (CDMA, Bluetooth, 1.3MP, 128MB, SDIO/MMC, Palm OS)

Palm Treo 700p
Photograph: Chris Manners

Palm Treo lovers rejoice: The new Treo 700p is here. The $650 (with a two-year contract from Sprint, as of 7/7/2006) unit features a largely improved design, a faster processor, more memory, and a speedy network connection. It's a pricey but worthwhile investment for people serious about on-the-go productivity.

Following in the footsteps of Palm's Windows Mobile-based 700w, the 700p builds on that unit's advancements--including support for high-speed EvDO networks--while retaining the Palm operating system. Both Sprint and Verizon Wireless offer the new device; I tested a shipping version of Sprint's dual-band CDMA 2000 handset. The Treo 700p's physical setup is virtually the same as that of the 700w, providing squared-off keys that improve typing; a roomier, easier-to-press five-way navigational button; and six larger, more clearly positioned navigational buttons--including more prominent buttons for power (red) and send (green).

I don't love all the changes. For example, the new send button functions like that of any cell phone--press it when you've dialed a number, and it initiates the call. A critical function, yes, but the Treo 650 handled it with the phone button, which now wastefully exists solely to take you to the phone application. As a result the 700p loses the centrally located menu button and the second shift button; worse, the home button is now located too far to the right.

Such layout tweaks aside, the biggest changes in the Treo 700p are also its most welcome ones: a faster processor (Intel's 312-Hz XScale) and more on-board memory (like the 700w, it has 128MB total memory, 60MB available to the user). In handling, I found the 700p dramatically faster than my Treo 650, at everything from loading and viewing media to scrolling through files on a 1GB SD Card to switching among applications. You get rapid results when you use the 700p for Internet access, too. Its EvDO connectivity makes browsing sites (using the integrated Blazer Web browser) a pleasure--no more drumming your fingers while you wait for a page to load.

Battery life is less impressive. In our tests of talk-time battery life, it lasted 4 hours, 59 minutes. That's 33 minutes less than the Treo 650 (also Palm OS-based), and 28 minutes less than the 700w--and both of those models' battery-life scores were already among the lowest for PDA/phones we've recently tested.

Sprint and Palm have packed the Treo 700p with a slew of software. For starters, you get the very visual On Demand software, which delivers localized weather information, TV listings, maps, news updates, sports, and phone directories. Also included: My Treo, which helps you make the most of the device and includes a full user guide; the standard version of Pocket Tunes, which replaces the RealPlayer software offered on the Treo 650; Dataviz's Documents to Go 8, for reading and creating Microsoft Office files and PDFs; and Sprint TV, an interface for purchasing streaming media content.

Despite the 700p's poor battery life--and its few design missteps--I found a lot to like. The unit's speed improvements alone are enough to make this dedicated Treo 650 user consider an upgrade.

Melissa J. Perenson

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At a Glance
  • Blazing performance and EvDO support makes this Treo a winner, but its short battery life is less than impressive.


    • Offers plenty of on-board memory
    • Supports fast EV-DO networks


    • Poor talk-time battery life
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