Treo 755p, 750, 680 Stylus Pen ShootoutBy: Kris Keilhack
March 25, 2008
Whether a weight-saving or a cost-cutting measure, the flimsy plastic stylus included on most recent Palm smartphones is undoubtedly a sore spot amongst line-time Palm fans used to decently-sized metal styli. While I thought that the regression from my Palm TX to 700p to 755p was bad enough, Centro users really get the, ahem, thin end of the stick when it comes to cheap, thin, uncomfortable stock styli. Fortunately for me, I have a Treo 755p and that device's larger form factor (shared with the older Treo 680 and 750) permits a thicker, slightly more comfortable stylus as well as a wider variety of available replacement.
In my opinion, the classic (2002-2005) spring-loaded "boing boing" stylus found on Palm's T|T/T2/T3 line and last seen on the LifeDrive Mobile Manager was the pinnacle of the mobile stylus. But Palm has truly insulted that fine design's legacy with their latest toothpick styli. In fact, long-time Palm OS users might easily mistake Palm's latest OEM styli as leftovers from the Sony Clie era.
Prior to purchasing my 755p, I had read the horror stories about the new 680 and 750/755 Treo styli being a step back from the all-metal versions used on the Treo 700 and all prior models. But after receiving my new 755p approximately six weeks ago, I immediately ordered a 3-pack of Palm's Stylus/Pen pack just to have a few spares to keep in my desk drawer. After living with the mediocre Palm offering, I decided to bite the bullet (or, perhaps I should say "the toothpick") and ordered a Seidio pen stylus alongside a few other accessories from Seidio.
Palm Stock 755p Stylus
Two-piece construction. Plastic barrel with a metal stylus tip. No Pen
Palm Replacement 750/755p styli
Sold in a retail 3-pack. Integrated ballpoint pen but otherwise identical to the stock stylus in looks & construction.
Seidio Replacement Treo 750/755p stylus
Sold online individually or in a three-pack. Integrated ballpoint pen with nice all-metal construction.
Testing Methodology & Results
Just like always, I performed my "testing" by simply going about daily activities but using the stylus instead of the 5-way navigator whenever convenient. Of course, I made certain to play more than my usual weekly dose of Bejeweled 2. I even fired up the old Handmark classic, Warfare Inc (a surefire stylus-bender if there ever was one!)
Palm Original 755p Stylus
This model was by far the worst of the three candidates. It's not only flimsy but it lacks any visual pizzazz or a built-in pen. In typical Palm fashion, the stylus is thinner and flimsier than the stock styli for the previous Treo 700-series generation. But it's not just the stylus that has seen cost-cutting; Palm has taken away a number of small features on the 755p compared to my previous 700p. While the backlit space bar/d-pad and the loss of the reset button are my main gripes, the cost-cutting stylus downgrade really is not befitting of a supposed "flagship" smartphone. Of course, the absence of an integrated pen is just an extra kick in the groin from Palm. I cannot imagine it would add anything to Palm's production costs—or take anything away from their bottom line—to toss a single stylus pen combo in the box with each new Treo 750/755p.
Palm Replacement Pen Styli
This is pretty much the exact same thing as the stock stylus, aside from the inclusion of, surprise surprise, a black ballpoint pen. I found it fairly easy to remove the tip to write. While this isn't going to replace the Cross & Lamy pens sitting here on my desk anytime soon, it's better than nothing in a pinch—and that's all that counts. Unfortunately, Palm's execution leaves something to be desired. Several times I found myself unscrewing the plastic body from the metal tip (revealing...nothing) when I was actually trying to unscrew the middle section of the metal tip to reveal the hidden ballpoint pen.
With the utter lack of anywhere convenient to purchase these guys (my local BestBuy doesn't have replacement styli for the 750/755p, the closest Staples is on the other side of town, and Office Depot has canned their entire PDA/smartphone portfolio) I purchased a pack of these direct from Palm.com during their recent free shipping promotion. So, $15, no sales tax and free shipping-not a bad price at all for three mediocre pen styli but not a fantastic deal either.
It's worth noting that the pack includes the Treo 750/755p bodies pre-installed with a set of three plastic modules for the similar but different Treo 680 included in the packaging. Fortunately for me, the 755p uses the exact same size stylus as the 750, even though Palm's older packaging only lists the 680 and 750 as compatible devices.
Seidio Replacement Pen Stylus
Wow, what a difference a few bucks makes! This is far and away the best quality stylus for the 750/755p that I've used. The fact that it has an integrated ballpoint pen is just icing on the cake. This is basically the same exact unit as I reviewed earlier for my 700p, which in no way makes it a bad product. In fact, the positive attributes of this stylus are even more pronounced when taking into consideration the lame stylus included with the most recent Treos.
Due to the rigid all-metal construction, this was both the best writing pen and the best stylus in this roundup. Also, I greatly preferred removing this one's cap to access the pen instead of having to unscrew the stylus tip. I also thought that the ballpoint pen on the Seidio wrote a bit more smoothly.
The problems I noted with the 700-series version of this stylus being embedded a bit too deep in the Treo's stylus silo has been totally rectified, though I'm not sure this should be attributed to the designers at Seidio designers or at Palm. Seidio's rather steep $6.95 + shipping price tag for one stylus is a bit dear, especially taking into account their incredibly slow order processing and shipping. Seidio also offers a three-pack of the same stylus for $12.95 + shipping. This probably would be a much wiser investment for most users, especially if they can avoid getting burned by purchasing the Palm pen styli.
I've lost more styli in my PDA-owning lifetime than I care to think about. So with the closure of all of Palm's retail stores and most retail chains abandoning their Palm handhelds and accessory inventory left and right, it's a good idea for anyone to go ahead and purchase a few spares of any type to have around "just in case".
I'm glad to report that the Palm replacement pen styli are no worse than the wobbly, lightweight stock stylus. Unfortunately, they also aren't any better. I can wholeheartedly recommend anyone who still does more than a modicum of stylus input on their Treos to go ahead and treat themselves to at least one all-metal Seidio replacement stylus.
Palm Stock 750/755p Stylus 2.5 / 5
Palm Stylus/Pen Pack 3 / 5
Seidio Treo 750/755p Replacment Pen Stylus 4.5 / 5