The new, improved Treo 650.
By Columnist
updated 10/25/2004 3:39:39 PM ET 2004-10-25T19:39:39

CTIA stands for the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. Each year they host two shows for the industry. This week is their fall Wireless IT and Entertainment expo in San Francisco. While it has less of the glitter, lights and whistles of other shows like CES, what is announced here will affect your life -– and probably your pocketbook –- in the very near future.

Cell phones are big business -– but I don’t have to tell you that. It’s the next step for cell phones that is news at CTIA.

Let’s start at the top. PalmOne chose CTIA to announce their new version of the Treo smart phone. The 650 is the first to be released as a pure Palm product. Older Treos were designed and developed by the former wizards at Handspring.

Not being ones to tinker with success, PalmOne has polished and improved upon Handspring’s baby -– making it one of the “I gotta have it” gizmos in the universe.

The 650 is 4.4 by 2.3 by 0.9 inches and weighs 6.3 ounces. It sports 23 MB of user available memory and has a SD/SDIO/MMC card slot for expansion.  The screen is 320 by 320 pixels with 16-bit color. The built-in camera is 640 by 480 (0.3 megapixels) with a 2X zoom and it also now captures video.

Big new additions for the 650 are a fully backlit keyboard and built-in Bluetooth technology for wireless connections to peripheral devices such as headsets, keyboards, etc. There’s lot of software, too: for e-mail, Internet browsing, MP3 playback and lots more.

The 650 comes in two models: a GSM/GPRS world phone and a CDMA model. The GSM model is reported to get up to 6 hours of talk time and 300 hours of standby from a charged battery.  The CDMA phone gets up to 5 hours of talk and 2 weeks of standby. The 650 should be available in the next few weeks. Prices will be set by wireless carriers -- so far, only Sprint has announced its plans .

Siemens has two new phones.  The more interesting is the lightweight, S66 GSM phone with a 1.3 megapixel camera, Bluetooth, a USB port, speakerphone.  It’s also very light – weighing in at 3.5 ounces.

The other stuff

Jabra's BT-110 runs on a single AAA battery.
As you might guess with all the new Bluetooth-enabled cell phones there’s a huge business in after-market products. One of the biggest headset companies, Jabra was showing two new designs.  he BT-110 is a striking-looking model which runs for hundreds of hours on a single AAA battery, which means you can avoid having to recharge your headset in an inopportune time.

Then, there’s the BT-800, coming early next year, which Jabra calls the ultimate, fully-featured headset. It includes five different ring tones, a vibrating call alert and a 21 by 64 pixels display to help you with caller ID.  Again, this is a headset. And a small one, too: it comes in a package that weighs only 24 grams or 0.75 ounces.

Not a ring tone fan? Do I have something for you. The people at Immersion are creating a buzz –- literally -- with their VibeTonz for cell phones. This is a software program that lets your handset vibrate and buzz in dozens of ways.  You can have different vibe patterns for business calls, personal calls, incoming mail, IM and much more. VibeTonz sensations can also be added to gaming via cell phones and lots more.

The folks at Immersion put the buzz into the Logitech iFeel mouse I fell in love with awhile back. It gives you tactile feedback to every move you make.  I’ll bet this software will do the same for cell phones. Very cool! Of course, you'll need to get to a new phone -- VibeTonz can’t be downloaded onto current models.  New handsets with VibeTonz built-in should be appearing soon.

Vindigo services on cell phones and PDAs.
Vindigo Studios are also here at CTIA, showing off their new Vindigo Expressions personalization service. It offers a daily updated catalog of wallpaper, images and pictures. This is the latest in their stable of items including Mapquest Mobile, Traffic, Vibe, Sporting News, Celebrity Now and of course the infamous Vindigo 2.0 city guide.

There’s a lot more here at the show – especially the move to incorporating 802.11 WiFi into cellular handsets.  You might not believe what’s in your future.  More tomorrow.

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