The Palm Treo Pro integrates Centro design elements with the Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system, with features of contemporary BlackBerrys, to produce a sleek smartphone built with the image-conscious corporate user in mind.
Palm has changed tack with the Treo Pro, offering a high-end smartphone for business users. The design is a real pull. Previous Palm Treos have been functional and not a little pedestrian, whereas the glossy black finish and gleaming circular central button, complete with prominent Palm logo, suggest this is something of a statement phone.
It costs £399 for the contract-free Palm Treo Pro handset, or can be bought pay-as-you-go for £169. Running Windows Mobile 6.1, it has a similar form factor to the Palm Centro models but with more connectivity options - GPRS/Edge, Wi-Fi and 3G are all supported, as are WAP 2.0 and Bluetooth 2.0.
Of particular note is the option to efficiently kill needlessly running applications (and hence preserve battery power) using a constantly available dropdown menu button - Palm's response to an issue in Windows Mobile which should help keep the Treo Pro running longer.
Palm has stuck with the TeleNav navigation service we've found so effective on other smartphones, although you do have to pay to use it - around £60 a year. There's an assisted GPS receiver on the Palm Treo Pro, and you can get as-you-travel instructions rather than relying on Google Maps to show you where to go.
We were surprised to find a very limited 256MB of storage here - and only 100MB actually available to the user. This is expandable via a microSD card up to 32GB, but storage this limiting on a smartphone is an odd decision, when most smartphones offer 8GB or 16GB as standard. Upgrading the Treo Pro with a 16GB Sandisk will cost you around £40.
The Palm Treo Pro has the same size 320x320-pixel screen as the BlackBerry Bold (although this is standard for Treos) with a bright, sharp high-contrast display. What may attract business users to the Palm Treo Pro is the Windows Mobile interface with its contact management and the ability to receive, open, edit and resend Word and Excel documents.
Apps are accessed with a press of the Windows icon to the left below the screen, while the button just below this brings up a list of today's appointments.
The main screen shows the SIM, battery, messaging and Wi-Fi status. You can scroll up and down to view menus, but a (firm) thumb press on the Palm Treo Pro touchscreen also works.
One menu button on the Palm Treo Pro initiates Google Search, while the taskbar at the bottom of the screen takes you to either the Internet (using Microsoft IE), Contacts or event Notifications.
Text entry is via Palm's familiar raised keypad, which has been pruned back to accommodate the large screen. This Palm Treo Pro keypad requires two-handed use, and a firm key press to operate. Pressing the large spacebar at the bottom of the Palm Treo Pro's keypad brings up the soft number pad for phone calls, or you can enter numbers via the keypad.
Call quality was distinct and fairly loud through an elongated hands-free speaker on the Palm Treo Pro's reverse, next to the 2Mp camera lens.
We got four hours talktime from the Palm Treo Pro before hearing a high-pitched musical warning that a recharge was needed.
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