Introduction

 

After months of searching for a pda, I decided to buy a Sharp Zaurus SL-5500, however, when I got the chance to review the Treo 270 from Handspring, I didn’t pass up the opportunity.

 

The Treo 270 is the next step up from the 180 that was reviewed here a while ago.

 

What you get

Reading Material

Powered up

 



Hardware Comparison - Treo 270 vs 180

 

Treo 180

Treo 270

Technical

Network

GSM/GPRS 900/1900 MHz   world phone

GSM/GPRS 900/1900 MHz   world phone

SRP

$249 with service activation   $449 without service activation

$499 $399 after T-Mobile mail-in rebate with service activation   $699 without service

Processor

33 MHz Motorola Dragonball VZ

33 MHz Motorola Dragonball VZ

Memory

16 MB

16 MB

Battery

Rechargeable Lithium Ion (internal)

Rechargeable Lithium Ion

Up to 2.5 hours talk time

Up to 3 hours talk time

Up to 100 hours standby time

150 hours standby time

IR

Yes

Yes

Features

Screen

Monochrome (16 shades of gray)

Over 4000 colors (12-bit )

Weight

5.2 oz

5.4 oz

Size (LxWxH)

4.2" x 2.8" x 0.82"

4.2" x 2.8" x 0.82"

Volume (smaller is better)

9.64 in3

9.64 in3

Memory

16 MB

16 MB

Data input method

QWERTY keyboard or stylus

QWERTY keyboard or stylus

Screen protection lid

Yes

Yes

Touchscreen

Yes

Yes

Backlit keyboard

No

Yes

Rocker Switch

Yes

Yes

Available Color

Steel Blue

Steel Gray

Phone Functions

Speakerphone

Yes

Yes

Speed dialing

Yes

Yes

3-Way calling

Yes

Yes

Call history log

Yes—stores up to 1,000 calls made/received

Yes—stores up to 1,000 calls made/received

Vibration Alarms

Yes

Yes, including alarms

Included headset

Yes

Yes

Packet data network ready (GPRS or 1xRTT)

Yes, upgradeable

Yes, upgradeable

International roaming

Yes (uses GSM worldwide network)

Yes (uses GSM worldwide network)

Organizer Functions

Operating system

Palm OS 3.5.2H

Palm OS 3.5.2H

Included organizer applications

  PhoneBook

  PhoneBook

  Instant Lookup

  Instant Lookup

  Date Book Plus

  Date Book Plus

  SMS Messages

  SMS Messages

  Blazer web browser

  Blazer web browser

  To Do List

  To Do List

  Memo Pad

  Memo Pad

  Advanced Calculator

  Advanced Calculator

  CityTime world clock

  CityTime world clock

  Expense1

  Expense1

  Wireless setup & desktop synchronization

  Wireless setup & desktop synchronization

  software (for both Windows & Macintosh):

  software (for both Windows & Macintosh):

    - Wireless setup/installer

    - Wireless setup/installer

    - One-Touch™ Mail (POP3)

    - One-Touch™ Mail (POP3)

    - Palm™ Desktop

    - Palm™ Desktop

    - HotSync® Manager

    - HotSync® Manager

    - Link to Microsoft Outlook2 (Windows only)

    - Link to Microsoft Outlook2 (Windows only)

Available 3rd party applications

11,000

11,000

Easily exchange and backup data on your PC

Yes

Yes, both Windows and Mac

Wireless Messaging

SMS

Yes

Yes

Internet Email

Yes

Yes

Automatic email delivery

Yes

Yes

Wireless Internet

Access any website with graphics and text

Yes

Yes

Pages compressed for faster access

Yes

Yes

 

As you can see they are almost identical sans the battery life, stand by time and color screen.

 

Treo 270

(images from Handspring site)

 



Usability/Functionality:

The Treo 270 pleasantly surprised me in its ease of use and simple functionality and the Palm OS was no slouch at deploying its features in full force. Since the OS has been around for years and has often been copied it’s easy to figure out what everything does without resorting to that dreadful thing called a manual.

Upon opening the cover you are greeted by ten quick dial buttons any of which could be customized to show the date, time or voicemail and of course quick dial phone numbers. Along the bottom of the screen there are 5 little buttons that allow access to forty additional quick-dial buttons. The PDA functions are easy to access and packs all the usual functions like the calendar, to do list, address book, calculator, web browser, sync software, sms messaging etc.

There are no discernable modifications to the PALM OS software package, which is in no way a disappointment. However there are a few new additions, like a very simple yet efficient web browser aptly called Blazer. One nice thing about the browser is upon reopening it, you are returned to the page you were last on, but you could only have one browser window open at any one time. For someone who expects a lot I was pleased with the ability to get the news on the run even though it was mostly hyperlinks and text.

The rocker switch makes for quick access to your contacts in the address book. Push it up to scroll up and down to scroll down, once you have located your victim just push the dial in to dial. It also doubles as a mouse wheel allowing you to scroll up and down thought documents, contacts etc quickly and through hyperlinks allowing for almost stylus free browsing.

Another cool feature that goes unnoticed is the stylus that separates to provide a useful resetting tool. Yes it’s hardly used but when you do need it, it’s at you fingertip.

The best feature for me is the addition of the keyboard, which makes my life a whole lot easier since writing in Graffiti was more of an effort in futility. The thumb keyboard takes some getting used due to the small keys, but it makes for an excellent input device. If you desire there is another model without the keyboard and in its place is the familiar touchpad for you to scrawl on.

The Treo could connect to almost any POP3 email server and send and retrieve emails with its Treo mail software, the downside however is it requires an annual subscription of $50 for personal use and $100 for corporate users. In perusing through it, I found not only was it very intuitive but extremely straight forward; on a side not it syncs with Lotus Notes R5. SMS messaging is also possible but was turned off on the unit.

Syncing the device with the PC is simple and painless. Install the Palm Desktop software, plug in the usb cable, connect the power supply if you desire, attach the Treo and select what you want to sync, finally hit sync. You could transfer you contacts, calendar etc. form Outlook quickly and painlessly, no different from the Handspring Deluxe I had.

 

 

Palm Apps

Quick Dial

 

Stylus/Resetting tool

 

 





Phone Features:

Using the phone is a little different form a standard cell phone; the phone could either be dialed using one of the quick dial buttons, the onscreen dial pad or the keyboard assigned buttons. After the number is dialed you are greeted with the option to hang up or switch on the speakerphone and upon connecting there is a mute button that is added. The speaker phone was not only surprisingly loud but clear also, however, it is not loud enough to stand above the noise of a 49db fan (the one on my case), to hear clearly with the regular speaker in the flip lid one must place their ear directly over the speaker, a minor nuisance but nothing worth crying over.

If the Treo is laid to rest for an extended period, it switches off the wireless mode to conserve on power, and all it takes to reactivate it is a push of the power button. This may become annoying for some as it requires approximately 20 seconds to synchronize with the service provider before making a call, you could however disable that function.

In NY, T-Mobile doesn’t have a reputation for great phone service, but in all of the worst areas with my ATT cell phone I was still able to make and receive calls on the Treo.

 

 

Quick Dial

Dialing

Connected

 

Upgradeability:

There is no available upgrade option so you are stuck with 16 Megs of onboard ram. This is my biggest gripe with the unit. I hate having something this useful and can’t upgrade up to add a few hundred megs of mp3’s etc. Hopefully in the next iteration Handspring will address this and also add the ability to record audio as a standard since the unit already has a microphone and speaker.

 




Pros:

Palm OS

Phone and PDA that would be great separately but better together

Speakerphone

Lots of software at its disposal

Cons:

Lack of upgradeability (-.75)

Too little internal memory (-.25)

 

Conclusion:

The TREO 270, if I had one, would replace my phone and PAD in a heartbeat had I not known about the other benefits of a dedicated PDA, like Quake and Doom and portable multimedia. It’s an excellent tool for any user not interested in these functions, as 16 Megs would be more than adequate to store a great deal of contacts and appointments.

 

SLRating: 9/10













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