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May 11, 2007

Treo 750 Smart Device

It is pretty clear that the U.S. market is usually the last to receive innovative telephony products because of all the hoops the FCC and telcos make developers jump through. For instance at CES, I saw some killer devices from HTC that would make anyone drool. However, they are all waiting for telco approval. I have been wondering when the Palm 750 would be available in this country after its release in Europe last year. Well, it's finally here, and it's about time!

Major features

  • Pocket PC phone with email, organizer, and web browser

  • Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC Phone Edition with
    Palm enhancements

  • Quasi-broadband speeds and worldwide GSM network

  • Mobile access to multiple business and personal email accounts

  • SMS/MMS with chat view and dedicated inbox

  • Internet Explorer Mobile

  • Microsoft Office Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Mobile applications,
    plus PDF viewer

  • 1.3 megapixel digital video camera (non-camera model also available)

  • Windows Media Player 10 Mobile for audio and video

  • Built-in Bluetooth technology enhanced to support stereo headsets

  • Voice Command for voice dialing

  • Functions as high-speed modem for your laptop

The new Treo 750 is almost identical to the 700w and 700wx in appearance, except that it has lost that ugly antenna and it has some minor keypad changes. The big difference is that it is Palm's first 3G GSM device, which makes it usable pretty much anywhere in the world. It will be available with a plan from Cingular.

Some of the other differences include a new stylus in a slightly different location with a 2/3 plastic shaft. Apparently an all metal stylus created antenna issues. The InfraRed port has moved from the top to the right side. The camera and speaker on the back is different too. The body of the 750 is not quite as thick as its precursors, and the sides are grooved, which makes it easier and more comfortable to hold. The expansion slot has moved from the top to the right side behind a small trap door, which also hides the reset button. The SIM card hold resides under the battery.

What's included

  • Treo 750 smart device
  • 1200 mAh Removable battery
  • AC charger
  • USB sync cable
  • Stereo Headset
  • Getting Started Guide
  • Getting Started CD including User Manual
  • (Note that there is still no cradle included!)

Pre-installed software

Alarm clock, ActiveSync, Bubble Breaker, Calculator, Camera (pictures and video), File Explorer, Good Mobile Messaging stub application, Internet Explorer Mobile, Microsoft Office Outlook Mobile--including Email, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks and Notes, Microsoft Office Mobile Suite--including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Mobile, ModemLink, Picsel PDF Viewer, Pocket MSN, Quick Tour, Search, SIM Manager, SMS and MMS Messaging, Solitaire, Sounds Manager, Terminal Services Client, Voice Command, Windows Media Player, Wired Car Kit Support, XpressMail

Software on CD

ActiveSync 4.2 desktop software, Adobe Reader, AudibleAir, Avvenu, Bluetooth Plug in for Desktop, Dynomite!, eReader, Handmark Express, Outlook 2002 for desktop, Spritesoft, User Guide

It still has that silly Treo connector at the bottom of the unit that requires a separate cable for USB sync and another cable for charging. Why not combine the two functions with the use of a standard mini-USB connector as most other machines have these days? This is really a non-issue when virtually all of the machines made by HTC already have such a setup in place. HTC makes the Palm 750 and could have easily added a mini USB connector. Obviously, for some inexplicable reason, Palm didn't want to change its outmoded system.

Perhaps my biggest disappointments are that the screen is still just 240 x 240 pixels, and there is no built-in Wi-Fi. It's almost incomprehensible to me that any Pocket PC would enter the market place without Wi-Fi. It seems obvious that this was probably beyond Palm's control and a dictate of a greedy telco that wants you to use their pokey network and charge you for it instead of fast, free Wi-Fi. Bah!

Not only does it not have built-in Wi-Fi, it has switched from an SD card slot to a mini-SD card slot, which makes it impossible for me to use my fast 801.11g SD Wi-Fi card. The solution is to purchase a Spectec miniSD Wi-Fi Card for $89.95 at TreoCentral. However, it is the slower 801.11b standard instead of the faster 801.11g formation.

You will be stuck with Cingular's GPRS, EDGE, or UTMS networks for surfing the Web, which is slower than EVDO used by the Treo 700w and700wx. Currently available in just six U.S. metro areas--Dallas, Detroit, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle--UMTS offers data speeds that average between those of Cingular EDGE and Verizon and Sprint EVDO.

The new 750 still uses a 1.3 MPX camera when most of the new Pocket PCs are going to 2.0 and 3.0 MPX. The Treo does have more setting adjustments than most phone cameras, but the pictures would only make an impressionist proud.

Here's some good news: the Bluetooth codecs have been upgraded so that you can listen to stereo sound and use wireless Bluetooth headphones. It still has the pesky 2.5 mm jack instead of the standard 3.5 mm, which is a bother because you have to use an adapter for such accessories as headphones, external speakers, car kits, and FM modulators.

Speaking of car kits, Palm has included a car kit application that allows automatic connection to a car kit via Bluetooth, which is very nice. Palm has also added some innovative ways to connect to your contacts and other applications. I especially appreciate the built-in voice dial program that really puts you in charge: You can make calls, run applications, and check system status vocally. I also like the Today screen input panels that access contacts and Websites.

Palm, to my dismay, used to promote its Treos as Smartphones. I am amused that Palm and Cingular are not touting the 750 as a Smartphone, which is proper because it's not a Smartphone, it's a Pocket PC phone. Now they are calling it a Smart Device, which makes a lot more sense and avoids confusion as users will no longer try in vain to use Smartphone software on a Pocket PC.

Incidentally, you may be interested to know that I noticed more Palm packers than any other type of phone at CES. I couldn't tell you if they were Palm OS or WM5 because they were usually glued to the owner's ear or ensconced in a case. But, I suspect that the majority were WM5 because of the dominant Microsoft presence at CES. Palm had a presence in at least three different venues, but I think the new Samsung Black Jack was the most promoted item in the entire show.


The Treo 750 represents a continual evolution in the Palm Treo Windows Mobile Pocket PC phone line. I applaud the loss of that ugly antenna, which gives it a more streamlined look. While the memory has doubled over the original 700w release, it could be larger, and the processor has gone from 312 to 300 MHz--seemingly backwards. Some may argue that the slower EDGE network is a step backward from the faster EVDO network available for the 700s and 700wx machines. However, this compromise allows the 750 to become a 3G GSM universal phone for worldwide usage. I am not certain that the shift from a SD card to a microSD card is a good one because it limits the choices of peripherals readily available. I wish the screen were larger with higher resolution. I find the QWERTY keyboard easy to use one-handed or with two thumbs. Palm has added some nice embellishments to the standard WM5 configuration, which I appreciate.

The suggested retail price with a two-year service plan from Cingular is $399. If you do not like Cingular, you can get an unlocked version for $755 and use it with any GSM carrier of your choice.

My conclusion is that I like the Treo 750 overall, and I think you could also find a welcome place in your pocket for one. While there is still room for improvement, Palm seems to be doing a good job of enhancing its WM5 offerings. But, you know what? It's nice to hold. It fits in your hand as if grafted with those great grooves on the sides and the rubberized case. It just feels good.

Posted by tim at May 11, 2007 09:05 PM