Treo 700p
Palm
The new Treo 700p's high-speed networking feature allows the handset to double as a wireless modem for your laptop.
By Columnist
msnbc.com
updated 5/18/2006 4:55:38 PM ET 2006-05-18T20:55:38

It was only a matter of time.

As soon as Palm and Microsoft announced last fall they were working together on a new Treo smartphone, journalists began asking if that meant the end of the Palm operating system. The answer was absolutely not — the Treo 700w (w for Windows) would be just one model in the 700 series.

Today, Palm’s prediction came true. The 700p is a reality. Palm OS fans can once again rejoice.

The 700p runs on the Palm OS version 5.4.9.  Aside from the obvious differences in a device running different operating systems, there are physical differences between the 700p and the 700w, too.  Most noticeable is the larger screen: 320 by 320 pixels for the 700p compared to 240 by 240 on the Windows Mobile model.

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The biggest difference ion from previous Palm OS Treos is the built-in EV-DO modem.  EV-DO allows faster speeds than any other mass-market, wireless modem available in the United States and the 700p has one.  Verizon and Sprint are the only purveyors of EV-DO and consequently are the two companies marketing the Treo 700p.

What the 700p’s EV-DO brings to the table is that you can now use your Treo as a high-speed modem for your laptop/desktop PC — in addition to blazingly fast downloads for the Treo itself.  That means you can amortize the high monthly cost of EV-DO service by being able to use it not just with your phone. That makes a lot of sense.

What also makes sense is that at the same time you’re using your Treo as a PC modem, your 700p’s battery is recharging itself through the USB connection. Very cool.

The 700p is loaded: 128MB total and 60MB of dedicated user storage gives you plenty of room to select programs from the thousands of third-party titles available for Palms.  The device also accepts SD memory cards if you need more space. For those keeping track, SD cards are now available in sizes up to 2GB.

Palm has updated its Blazer Web browser and also its built-in VersaMail software. The Treo 700p has out-of-the-box support for Yahoo!, AOL and Gmail as well as ActiveSync. Microsoft’s ActiveSync program is important because it now allows users to directly access their office Microsoft Exchange mail servers.

That now makes the 700p a direct threat to the 700w’s biggest selling point — portable Outlook server e-mail. I haven’t had a chance to try a 700p to gauge its ability to send and receive my e-mail, but I plan to do so as soon as possible.

The latest version (8.) of Documents To Go is included with the 700p.  This program offers native Word, Excel and PowerPoint compatibility, which according to Palm, means you can review and edit Word and Excel files, then quickly send them back. Or, how about rehearsing your PowerPoint presentation without a laptop?

There’s another new software title worth mentioning: scanR. It allows you to use the Treo’s built-in 1.3-megapixel camera to scan and capture an image of a page full of notes you’ve taken — or a white board presentation during a meeting. 

Approaching handheld nirvana is an expensive proposition.  In addition to $499.99 for the handset, Verizon asks that you sign up for two years of data/voice service from $79.99 (450 monthly minutes) to $169.99 (4,000 anytime minutes). Sprint has not yet announced pricing for its version of the Treo 700p.

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