Palm OS
Treo
smartphones

Smartphones Now: Palm OS Phones

Next Story

CG Holiday Recommendation: Denon AVR-2808CI

treo2.jpg

Palm, as a company, should need no introduction. The chameleon of a technology company has changed hands more times than a Hilton’s phone number, and is used just as often, too. The company essentially founded the concept of modern handheld computing back in 1996 with the Pilot 1000, and kept the platform evolving into what it is today, the secret behind the best-selling and popular Treo line of smartphones.

Sadly, the OS hasn’t developed much in the last few years. We have Palm (at the time Palm One) selling off the operating system to Access a couple of years ago to thank for that. Access has shelved the operating system to focus on a next-gen, Linux-based version. And while we like the idea, there has been little fruit borne from the labor.

And this is where the Palm OS on smartphones stands: still. Palm last year did succeed in getting a permanent license to the Palm OS from access, with exclusive rights to modify and improve the source code, which it’s done, notable improvements visible in the Centro and in the upgrade for the 680 that was released last week.

While we’d like to see more improvement, it’s a start, and a needed sign of life for the platform. But there needs to be more, which we understand the next year will show us.

But for now it’s still a great way to get into smartphones. The current batch of Treos based on the Palm OS are all pretty impressive, despite the 680’s lack of 3G. The Palm OS is easy to use, not just for daily tasks but to customize as well. Add-on programs are plentiful, and many of them are almost mandatory downloads.

What’s more, the Palm OS is the only smartphone OS with native sycning to all major operating systems; you can use it on your PC, your Mac, or even your goofy Linux box without any real trouble.

This sync isn’t just basic information; emails, contacts, notes, to-dos, pretty much everything syncs quickly and easily, so you don’t even have to think about it.

But real smartphone users don’t care about that. The built-in push email sync works over the air (OTA), meaning that as an email arrives in your account, it also arrives on your phone, almost instantly (if your email provider supports the function, most do). This, combined with text messaging and instant messaging, is what makes the Treos and Centros attractive smartphones for those who are required to always be in touch.

And speaking of touch, that’s one area where the Treos excel. All Palm-OS based devices have a touchscreen for navigation, and once you’ve used one it’s hard to go back to button-based operating systems. Everything is withing one or two screens of wherever you are on the device now, making it the easiest and speediest mobile OS to use in our opinion.

That’s part of the appeal of the Treos, and part of why owners tend to love them. There’s a little bit of grousing, sure, but for the most part Treo owners are like Mac owners in that they love their devices, and they just plain work. There’s little to think about, once you’ve got it configured, and that’s the way it should be. Smartphones are supposed to be our computers when we’re truly mobile, and they’re supposed to make our lives easier. Having to worry about your handset is the opposite of that.

Thus, if you’re in the market for your first smartphone, or if you’re just tired of Windows Mobile, a Palm OS-based phone is definitely worth a first, or, indeed, another look.

CrunchGear’s handy comparison table!  


Treo
755p
 



Treo
700p

 


Treo
680

 


Centro

Price as low as $199 as low as $399 as low as $199 as low as $99
Carriers

Sprint

Verizon
Wireless

Alltel

Sprint

Verizon
Wireless

Alltel

AT&T
Wireless

Unlocked
GSM

Sprint

Memory/storage

128MB
(60MB user accessible)
128MB
(60MB user accessible)
64MB
(64MB user accessible)
64MB
(64MB user accessible)
Size (inches)
w 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.1
h 4.4 4.4 4.4 4.2
d 0.84 0.9 0.8 0.7
Weight 5.64 oz 6.4 oz 5.5 oz 4.4 oz
Colors

Burgundy

Midnight Blue

N/A

Arctic

Copper

Crimson

Graphite

Onyx

Ruby

Digital camera 1.3MP w/2x digital zoom 1.3MP w/2x digital zoom VGA w/2x digital zoom 1.3MP w/2x digital zoom
Expansion slot miniSD

SD

SDIO

Multimedia Cards

SD

SDIO

Multimedia Cards

microSD
Built-in instant messaging Yes No Yes
(With upgrade)
Yes

Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Memos/Notes

Yes Yes Yes Yes
Office docs Yes Yes Yes Yes
PDF reader Yes Yes Yes Yes
Games Yes Yes Yes Yes
Calculator Yes Yes Yes Yes
blog comments powered by Disqus