HOME | Windows Mobile | Palm OS | Rugged PDAs | Rugged PCs | Personal Media | Tablet PCs | iPhone | Digital Cameras

« Full Facebook on your Mobile Phone with Friend Mobilizer | Main | Zinc II -- A deluxe smartphone worthy of your consideration »

July 28, 2008

The Palm Treo 800w

It has been quite some time since Palm has come to the table with a new Windows Mobile Professional device: enter the Treo 800W, WM 6.1. At first glance it doesn’t appear all that different than its predecessor, the Treo 750W. But there are some subtle and not so subtle differences.

The new Treo is much thinner, the screen is the same size, there is a Sprint logo on the top, there are two new hardware buttons—one for mail, one for calendar, the keyboard keys have a new look and feel-they are flat instead of rounded and therefore seem to have less definition.

A quick glance at the bottom made me quiver with delight for I thought that at last Palm has gotten rid of its goofy, proprietary connector and opted for the more universal mini USB connector. But my hopes were quickly dashed upon closer inspection because it was what they call a micro-USB connector, which is far from standard. This means that you can’t use the old Treo cradles, and you have to pack yet another cable and charger when traveling—not a good thing.

Where was the audio output jack? I hoped maybe they would offer a standard 3.5 jack instead of the 2.5 mm jack found on other Treos, but no such luck. Instead, you must use the micro-USB port for audio output. How ill-conceived is that? You cannot charge your unit while listening to audio output. You cannot connect to standard external speakers. You can’t even talk on the phone while charging and using the headset earbuds that come in the box.

To make matters even worse, the micro USB cable supplied in the box is only good for syncing, not charging. So, you are actually draining battery power while syncing.

And the sacrilege compounds when you realize that you cannot charge the device while using it for navigation in the car using the sync cable. I could not even recharge the 800w with my auxiliary battery charger, which was another disappointment.

The micro-USB port is a disaster that could discourage power users from taking a second look at this device. This unfortunate configuration needs to be changed if the Treo 800W is to be taken seriously as an enterprise device.

If you are a faithful Treo packer looking for a smooth transitional upgrade, fergetaboutit. You will have to abandon all your peripherals and acquire new ones. Even the battery is different, which I suppose is expectable to accommodate the slimmer design. But what am I going to do with all my old spare Treo batteries? Lift up the battery, and you will not find a SIM card slot because there isn’t one, which is another shame.

Amazingly, you will not find a reset button recessed anywhere, not even hidden behind the expansion card slot cover. The only way to reset this machine is to remove the battery—bother. Well, maybe it will prove so stable that you will never have to reset it. Not.

If you were expecting to slip your old mini-SD card from your Treo 750 into the expansion slot of the new 800W, you can forget about that too because it uses a micro-SD card instead.

Up top, we have a stylus silo. The stylus is black nylon and extremely flexible. I do not like this flimsy stylus. You could tie some fish line to it and use as a fly rod. I’ve always appreciated Palm’s sound off/on switch, and it’s still there on the 800W along with the addition of a handy Wi-Fi on/off switch, both on the top panel.

Yes, I said Wi-Fi. This is the first Palm to offer Wi-Fi, a long time in coming and a woefully neglected feature in previous models. Hooray for Palm!

Now you can use your Treo as a laptop Modem connecting to the Internet via a phone network or a Wi-Fi connection. There’s even a software application that comes with it for this purpose. Stellar move, Palm. Of course, you cannot charge the unit via USB cable during this process, which is not good.

On the back, you will find a speaker, a 2.0 Mpx camera lens, and a self-portrait mirror. There is also what the manual describes as an external port that I assume is for an external GPS antenna.

Here’s another great feature of this phone; it comes with built-in GPS—sort of. Sprint wants you to subscribe to their navigation system for $9.95 a month. As you will begin to figure out, this is not the only opportunity to spend more money with Sprint on this phone.

The GPS system uses Sprint cell towers for triangulation as well as satellite communication. It will work with Google Maps for navigation, and you can install your own navigation program if you don’t want to pay Sprint’s monthly fee. You can use the handy GPS panel on the Today screen to find points of interest and directions--a nice feature.

On the left side are two volume control buttons and a button that turns on the voice recorder by default, but you can program it to anything you want. Just hold the button in to start recording, which is a handy feature. Note that in the Settings area, you can assign dual functions to hardware buttons.

On the right side, under a cover, you will find the micro-SD card. This is also where the InfraRed port is located. I wish more people took advantage of IR, for it is very useful for beaming data from device to device. I find that most people don’t even know about it or how to use it—too bad. Check it out. Unfortunately, I notice that some new devices don’t even have IR anymore. What a shame.

In the box

What comes in the box is bare bones. You get a printed manual, a CD with some applications (some free, some for a fee), a sync cable, an AC charger, and a set of earbuds. There is no extra stylus, no case, no cradle, no car charger, no GPS car mount, no extra battery, and no storage card. In fact, most of these items are not even available yet in the Palm store. So, this unit is a bit ahead of its time.

The 800W comes well-endowed with a rich complement of software:

Active Sync
File Explorer
Aces Texas Hold ‘em Limit
Astraware Sodoku
Bubble Breaker
Get Pocket Express
Instant Messaging
Internet Explorer
Internet Sharing
My Treo
Office Mobile
Excel Mobile
OneNote Mobile
PowerPoint Mobile
Word Mobile
PDF Viewer
Pictures & Videos
Quick Tour
Software Store
Sprint Navigation
Sprint TV
Sprite Backup
Task Manager
Voice Command
Windows Live
Windows Media

Notice in the lineup that Sprint offers users several opportunities to spend money with their software store right in the program lineup, navigation, and TV. The store is where you go to spend money on applications, games, ringtones, screen savers, and subscribe to Pocket Express extras. But, at this store you cannot try before you buy!

I was only able to get a couple of free channels to work and never got beyond “loading” for most of the channels I tried. While I think this is a nice feature, it could get expensive. I prefer to use my faithful Slingplayer and watch a full lineup of channels on my home satellite TV and DRV recordings, thank you.

Whoops, I just installed SlingPlayer, and while it works, it only displays a picture of about 1.25 x .75 inches, not at all satisfactory. SlingMedia does not yet support the 320 x 320 screen--I hope they will soon.

I appreciate having the task manager up front and not having to do a tap dance to get to it. I was surprised to see a couple of new games in the stable. The addition of OneNote Mobile was another pleasant surprise for productivity. Instant messaging runs a program that installs AIM.

Windows Live Messenger, and YahooMessenger, but not Google Talk. Voice Command is always a welcome application.

Yes, I know that it has a square screen, and it may seem senseless to some people, Palm people in particular, to allow the screen to rotate as it does in normal WM devices. Screen rotation is not an option with the Treo. But, I consider this a negative factor. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to rotate the screen for reading eBooks, playing games, and for watching movies.

On the CD that comes in the box, you will have the opportunity to download three more applications: Astraware’s Bejeweled 2, Mobimate’s WorldMate, and Sprite Backup. WorldMate is yet another chance to spend money because it will cost you $75 to activate the professional version.


  • Platform: WM 6.1 Professional
  • Display: 320 x 320 transflective color TFT touchscreen
  • Radio: Qualcomm MSM6800A chipset supporting EvDO Rev A
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g
  • GPS: Built-in GPS (standalone and assisted); Sprint Navigation; GPS powered local search, maps, and navigation from Today screen
  • Bluetooth: version 2.0
  • Memory: 256 MB (approx 1270 MB available user memory); 128 MB program memory
  • Camera: 2.0 Mpx (1280 x 1024); 2x digital zoom and video capture
  • Battery: Removable 1150 mAh lithium-ion; up to 4.5 hours talk time-200 hours standby
  • Expansion: Micro-SD card—up to 8 GB supported
  • Connector: Micro USB 2.0
  • Dimensions: 2.28” W x 4.41: L x 0.73” D; 5.0 oz.
  • System requirements: Windows XP; Windows Vista

Customer Support

In the past, I’ve always considered Palm customer support exemplary. However, I was disappointed to be connected and disconnected and reconnected with a call center in the Philippines where customer support has been outsourced. There were not only language problems but the technicians were not well trained. I can’t tell you how glad I was when I was connected to Sprint’s customer support center in Dallas, Texas, and to get a good old boy down home Texas accent that I could at least understand.

Sprint offers a variety of opportunities to pay additional fees with this phone. The best strategy is to get an all-inclusive, so-called unlimited usage plan that will cost about $99 a month. However, I have read recently that Sprint is starting to limit the unlimited plans. Pretty soon, using your phone may be like driving your car—unaffordable.


My first PDA was a Palm Pilot, but I couldn’t help switching over to Windows Mobile, and when Palm did the same I was delighted. I’ve had every one of the WM Treos now, and I’m a devoted fan. I like the look and the feel, and it just gets better. I like the innovative touches Palm puts on top of the WM system for greater functionality and ease of use. I particularly appreciate the full QWERTY keyboard and how you can run the whole operation with one hand while driving—just kidding. I am especially grateful for WI-Fi, GPS, and TV, all new features on the Treo 800w. The single, biggest problem is the goofy, non-standard connector that severally limits the unit’s functionality. It’s a keeper, but with some issues that I hope will be resolved the next time around.


  • One Touch Wi-Fi
  • GPS
  • TV
  • Palm telephony enhancements
  • One-handed operation
  • Full QWERTY front-facing keyboard
  • Wi-Fi power button
  • Sound button
  • 320 x 320 screen resolution


  • Unconventional connector
  • Limited battery life
  • No SIM card
  • No cradle for viewing, syncing, charging
  • Cannot charge with sync cable
  • Cannot charge while navigating in car w/sync cable rendering GPS of limited value
  • Cannot charge while playing music
  • Keys have a squishy, less defined feel, and typing is therefore less precise
  • No 3.5 mm audio jack—cannot use with external speakers
  • No reset button
  • Cannot rotate screen

Posted by conradb212 at July 28, 2008 07:02 PM