Treo 300 Smartphone

Introduction:

It's a phone! It's a PDA! It's the Treo 300 from Handspring. The Treo 300 SmartPhone is Handspring's newest edition to the Treo product-line that is available today. While it is very similar to it's predecessor, the Treo 270, it has some new features. Handspring, creator of the PalmPilot™, knows their stuff when it comes to handheld computing devices and show off their expertise in the Treo line-up. Equipped with a crisp-colorful LCD screen and a QWERTY keyboard built-in, the Treo 300 looks quite promising. Hop aboard and follow my lead as we take a tour of all the Treo has to offer.



Package Contents:

The Treo 300 comes packaged with a trio of boxes (pun intended). On the top of the each box is a picture of the item it contains and on the side of each box is a word.

At first I thought these words may hold the meaning to life, but I soon realized they only describe the item inside. Here is an overall picture of everything the Treo came with (there are two separate pictures side-by-side in case you were wondering)...

Once you rip open the boxes the picture above turns into this...

The cords above are, from left to right, headphone ear pieces, HotSync USB cable, and the DC power pack used to recharge the Treo's Lithium Ion battery. Also included but now shown is a car power adapter for when you're on the go, however I can't recommend using the web browser while driving. Talking on a cell phone is distracting enough- we don't need people surfing the internet and driving- not a good mix. We'll talk about the Treo's internet capabilities later on.

That's it for the contents of the Treo 300 package. Next stop on our tour is a quick briefing of the Treo's specifications.



Specs:

Here are the specs of the Treo 300 (as found on Handspring's website):

Product Specifications
 
Item Handspring Treo™ 300
  Network Technology   CDMA 2000 (1xRTT)
1900MHz
  SRP   $399 only $299 after service credit (w/ service activation)
- $399 without service activation
  Processor
  Technology
  33 MHz Dragonball VZ
  Memory   16 MB
  Battery   Rechargeable Lithium Ion
  Up to 2.5 hours talk time, 150 hours standby time
  Palm OS Version   Palm OS 3.5.2H
  Built-in Software   PhoneBook
  Instant Lookup
  Date Book Plus
  SMS Messaging (receive only)
  Blazer web browser
  To Do List
  Memo Pad
  Advanced Calculator
  CityTime world clock
  Expense
  Desktop synchronization software:
    - Palm™ Desktop
    - HotSync® Manager
    - Link to Microsoft Outlook*
  Email options:
    - PCS Business ConnectionSM
      (additional fees may apply)
    - Treo Mail™ (sold separately)
 
  Available Color   Silver
  Size    4.4" x 2.8" x .82" (11.2cm x 7.1cm x 2.1cm)
  Weight    5.7 oz
  IR (beaming)   Yes
  Display   Over 4,000 colors (12-bit color, backlit)
  Additional
  Features
  Built-in, backlit keyboard
  Protective flip lid
  Personal speakerphone
  Rocker switch
  Ringer switch with vibrate option
  Headset jack and free headset
  Touch-screen with stylus
  Infrared (IR) communication
  Palm OS® compatible
  Mute button
 

If you have read the Treo 270 review you may have noticed, the Treo 300 and 270's specs are almost exactly the same. Handspring as stuck with the 33MHz Dragonball VZ processor and the 16MB of RAM. They have also kept the physical look and layout the same as the Treo 270. Speaking of looks, we reach the next stop of our tour- the physical layout of the Treo.



Physical Layout:

Its time for the Treo to show off its stuff. Model for us Treo because its photo shoot time! First, give me a calm and sophisticated pose.


Now an alive and sassy look!


 Very sexy Treo. Now how about a little peak at the behind.



Oh Treo your so naughty.

Sorry about that. I got a little carried away- anyways back to business. Lets take a look at how the Treo measures up (literally).


The length


The width


The thickness

Sorry for the poor readability of the ruler's numbers. I can assure you that the measurements are as follows... The length is 4.4 inches, the width is 2.8 inches, and the thickness is .82 inches. The picture below (from Handsprings website) compares the size of the Treo to a playing card and I can honestly say it is pretty darn close to it.

Property of Handspring

 

 

Property of Handspring

Property of Handspring

The side view and top view pictures label key features of the Treo's layout. The side view picture shows it's rocker switch, which I found to be somewhat useful to navigate around the Treo when you did not want to use the stylus. In case you aren't sure of what a "Rocker Switch" is I'll explain it. Basically it does what it's named, it is a dial that "rocks" around an axle in a both up and down direction. When released the Rocker Switch returns to its normal position. It can also be pressed in, which on the Treo performs different commands depending on which application you are using. The other feature from the side view photo is the headset jack. This can be used to plug in the headphone ear pieces that come with the Treo so that you can comfortably talk on the phone without having to hold the speaker (located at the top of the flip lid) directly to your ear. In the top view picture, we see where the stylus, power button, and ringer switch are located. The ringer switch is just a mute switch used to turn the Treo's sounds on and off.

The power button is just that, however it also has additional options. If you hold it down, that turns the wireless mode on and off. If you press and release it that turns the power on and off. If you double tap it- it switches between two light displays. The first is a bright screen and no backlight to the keyboard (pictured above on the left) and the second display is a slightly dimmer screen with a backlit keyboard (pictured on the right).

Here is a close up of the keyboard with the backlight on. The keyboard is laid out in your standard QWERTY format which allows for quick typing even though the keys are pretty small. I had no problem typing and I have pretty fat fingers.


Located at the bottom of the Treo are 4 application opening buttons and the two navigational buttons. The middle navigational buttons perform various commands depending on which application you are in. For example, when surfing the web, they act as page-up and page-down buttons for the blazer web browser. The other 4 application buttons are (from left to right): Telephone, Calendar, Web Browser, Memo/Notepad. In the next section of our tour of the Treo we will take an in-depth look at these four applications and see how they perform.



Software Layout:

So let me get this straight- the Treo 300 is a phone, a PDA, and a web browser? Yup. First we look at the phone application.

The picture above on the right is what you see when you press the phone application button at the bottom of the Treo 300 and the picture on the left is the Treo 270's phone application. This is the quick dial page. As you can see, Handspring has added a nice touch to the newer phone application with more available phone number slots and the addition of the call history. Simply click the name with the stylus and your ready to roll. The icons at the bottom-left of the screen are (in order) the quick dial page (shown), the number pad, the contacts page, and the call history page. The bottom-right icons are more quick dial pages.

This is the phone pad. Nice big buttons make this thing very easy to use.

This is the call history screen with the red light from my camera in it. "Opps". I think this screen is pretty self explanatory. I almost left the 1-900 numbers in the history when I took the picture- that would have been embarrassing.

When you are talking on the phone this is the screen that will be shown. While this is also pretty self-explanatory, I wanted to point out that the speakerphone option works quite well. The speaker on the Treo is pretty loud and I found myself using it often. The person on the other end of the line said I came in with really good quality- I was impressed.

Enough about the phone features, lets get into the fun stuff. Here we have the Blazer web browser. While it's a very basic web browser with not much support for much else other then html and graphics, it definitely gets the job done. The graphics look pretty darn good and are very colorful for being on such a small screen. The interface is really easy to use with the scroll bar on the side and the tool bar at the bottom. One thing I'd like to note about scrolling the page up and down and left and right, it's very easy to do since you can place the stylus anywhere on the page and drag it in any direction you want. I found that to be very convenient.

Icons for the toolbar are the main page, bookmarks, back, forward, URL entry screen, the home page, and the connection strength.

Oh such wonderful bookmarks. At the top-right of the screen you see "12345>". Those are just more pages for bookmarks and the arrow leads you to even more pages. I found the bookmarks to be very handy since I liked to check my email often. It saved a lot of time being able to just give it a quick click and not have to type in the URL every time.

Above is the URL entry screen. Pretty straight-forward. Nice little feature is the pre-made buttons for commonly used items found in a URL such as the .com and .net. I personally think that .org should also be in there in place of the period being as the period is on the keyboard and can easily be entered. No big deal though.

Finally, I'd like to mention the fourth application button- the memo button. Just like windows notepad but semi-fancier. You can assign each "memo" a type such as personal or business. The screen on the right is showing the list of memos under the category of "All" (at the top right). Click on the name of the memo and you will be brought to the contents of the memo.

All of the software is extremely easy to use and figure out without having to read the dreaded directions. So if you want to jump right into things then you shouldn't have any trouble with the Treo 300. Next up on the tour is the software bundled with the Treo for the PC.



PC-based Software:

Included in the software bundle is an array of various tools to help you bring your computer and Treo together. The first tool I'd like to talk about is the Palm Desktop application.

This program is used to input data into the Treo. Along the left side are the different types of information you can manually type in on your computer and then upload it via HotSync. This program is very useful if you need a large document, for example, to be input onto your Treo. You can type it up much easier on your computer than on the Treo and then simply upload when your done.

HotSync is how the information goes from your computer to the Treo. Included with the Treo is the HotSync cable which at one end has a USB adapter and at the other end a Treo adapter. Simply plug it into the USB port and your Treo, press the button on the top of the Treo adapter, and HotSync automatically begins. I was waiting for something to go wrong or for things to freeze up but nothing of the sort happened. It worked wonderfully. All you have to do is literally press the button, and it does it all for you with no hassle at all- very impressive.

Also included in the software package, amongst four other programs, is the Install Tool program. It allows you to add file types compatible with the Treo into it's cue via the "add" button which just opens up a file browser. The browser is initially pointed at the Treo software folder which contains several games, one of which I found to be quite fun- Sub Hunt. When you click done, Install Tool adds the files to a cue of things to be uploaded the next time you perform a HotSync.

As I said above, I really liked the HotSync software and cable. They were extremely easy to use and worked flawlessly. How did the rest of the Treo perform? I'm glad you asked.





Performance and Conclusion:

I figured I would sum up how the Treo performed and conclude this review on the same page, so here it goes. Overall I would have to say I liked the Treo 300 a lot. I found myself browsing the internet and checking email all of the time during my lunch break at work. I liked having the internet in the palm of my hands, however it was a more limited version of the internet. The Blazer web browser doesn't support JavaScript, Java, Macromedia Flash, or any type of media other than pictures. It also doesn't show any animation for .GIF files, which may be a more in-depth technical prevention dealing with the display rather than a software restriction. The speed of the sprint service wasn't anything to brag about but it loaded smaller sized pages in a very tolerable amount of time. However, when I went to a forum to read a post, it wasn't worth the wait to download the entire page. Bottom line is that if the page was cluttered with garbage then it took longer then I liked to wait around for, but if the page was organized with minimal clutter then it was just fine. Also, major websites have a PDA version of their site so that it loads much faster. Ebay.com for example had an all text version of their site that loaded very fast.
    The phone aspect of the Treo was very good. Everything was great except for two minor complaints which are: 1) When using the phone like a normal phone (with speaker phone off) it wasn't the most comfortable thing to press against your ear. 2) Let's face it, its a pretty big sized phone, not quite the most stylish looking thing out there. The PDA part of the Treo (Memo, Calendar) worked as you would expect it to work. It was very simple to use and enter in information using the Treo's keyboard.
    The battery life is hard to give an exact number since it totally depends on what your doing with it and how often. I personally never killed the battery in a one day session and I would say I used it a good amount. I used both the phone and internet browser during my use. At the end of the day I just charged it up and it was ready to go in the morning.

The Treo 300 is a very easy to use SmartPhone with many capabilities. While it has some flaws that need to be worked out, it is a definite improvement over the 270 model. I give the Treo 300 a 9 out of 10.





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