Palm Treo Pro Available March 15: A Palm Pre Stopgap?

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Sprint Palm Treo Pro
Sprint announced today that the Palm Treo Pro (not to be confused with the Palm Pre) will be released on March 15 for $200 with a two-year contract. The Windows Mobile 6.1 smart phone, which debuted unlocked last fall for a cool $550, features 3G connectivity, a 1.7-inch touch screen, built-in Wi-Fi and GPS capabilities and a full QWERTY keyboard. When we reviewed the unlocked Treo Pro, we praised its sleek and contemporary design and gave the device an overall "Good" rating.

Needless to say, it has been a strange journey for the Sprint Treo Pro. Originally anticipated for January release, it was rumored that the handset had been delayed until February. But February came and went with no Treo Pro on the horizon. Finally, in a week and a half, Sprint customers can get their hands on Treo Pro -- which some consider to be one of the best Windows Mobile smart phones to date.

But what about that other Palm smart phone? Last month, there was a rumor floating around that the Palm Pre would hit Sprint warehouses on March 15. I estimated the Pre would launch mid-April, but now, I predict a much later release date.

In Q&A session with RCR Wireless News, Sprint/Nextel CEO Dan Hesse stated that the carrier won't rush the Pre's release date -- no matter how desperate the company is. He said that Sprint and Palm are working tirelessly to bring it out as soon as possible, but they want to be entirely confident that the Pre is in perfect condition when it is released. He also noted that the handset will be in high demand, so they want to ensure that production is ramped up before the Pre launches.

Given the elusivity of both the release date and the actual product (aka not allowing reporters any hands-on time with the device), my guess is that there's some sort of glitch in production. If so, is the Palm Treo Pro a stopgap to tide customers over until the release of the Pre? It kind of seems like it. Sprint and Palm promised a Pre launch date in the first half of 2009, but honestly, the earliest I can see it being released is June 2009.

Calling the Palm Treo Pro a stopgap, however, isn't discrediting it. When we reviewed the unlocked version last fall, we loved its slim design, applet feature and full QWERTY keyboard. In fact, our biggest issue was with the steep, unlocked price. Like everyone else, I'm anxious for the Palm Pre to launch, but I'm also eager to get my hands on the Treo Pro. Stay tuned for a full review coming soon.

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