MobileInfocenter

Palm Treo Cradle Kit Review

by: Kris Keilhack
September 5, 2006

Treo Cradle KitIn an earlier review I covered Palm’s own Cradle Kit for Athena/Multi-Connector PDAs such as the T5, TX, E2, and LifeDrive. Shortly after reviewing that particular cradle, I made the leap from a Palm TX to a Treo 700p. Despite having the same accessory connector, the Treo 650 and 700 series cannot share a cradle design with Palm’s PDAs due to design differences in body shape and thickness. So it was only natural that one of my first accessory purchases was Palm’s Treo Cradle Kit.

In the Box
- The cradle itself. In lieu of an audio-out connector and internal white LED lighting, this connector’s claim to fame is a pocket where an additional Treo battery can be charged. A single red LED, a center-mounted Hotsync button and the rear cable connector are the only distinguishing marks on this otherwise bland cradle.

- A USB sync/charge Athena/multi-connector cable identical to the one included with Palm devices.

- A worldwide multi-voltage (110-240 volt), multi- frequency (50-60 Hz) international power supply. The adapter is slightly larger and thicker than the one Palm includes with their handhelds and smartphones. This charger can be detached from the cradle and plugged directly into the bottom of Palm’s devices for travel purposes as well as used in conjunction with the global plug adapters.

- Assorted global socket adapters (U.K., Europe, Australia, and U.S.)

While the package I received came in the older “PalmOne” brown and orange packaging, I have recently seen an updated package of the same contents brandishing the new bright orange “Palm” logo.

Initial Impressions and Usability
Thankfully, this cradle is actually a bit heavier and more solidly constructed than the “fancier” model I previously reviewed. Treo insertion and removal was easier on this cradle than was on the other version with my TX. The added base weight is a huge bonus here, as is the larger footprint. I still have to use two hands to remove my Treo but it’s not as aggravating as the process was previously with my TX.

Styling-wise this flat black Treo cradle pales in comparison to the sleek contours and LED-illuminated interior of the Palm’s silvery handheld cradle. However, I’ll take a heavier cradle that doesn’t slide around my desk any day!

I immediately began to appreciate the spare battery charging pocket. The cradle’s LED illuminates red or green to indicate charging status of the spare battery. You’ll have to rely on the Treo’s own LED to shows internal battery charging status. In very informal testing, I noticed no difference, regardless of placement, in the charging times of both a standard Treo 1800mAh battery and a Seidio 2400mAh extended battery. The slightly thicker Seidio battery posed no problems fitting into the cradle’s battery compartment.

In a useful twist, if the Palm Desktop software/USB driver is installed on the host PC, the Treo WILL trickle charge over USB even while in the cradle and with no AC adapter connected. So with the 700p’s original box contents and this accessory kit, I now have four places where I can charge my Treo:

#1 USB cradle charging on my desk next to my PC
#2 From my laptop with the original USB cable
#3 Next to my bed with the original AC adapter
#4 At work with the global AC charger included with the cradle kit.

That charging versatility is the small but useful touch Palm shows sometimes in their products but not often enough!

Treo Cradle Kit Review Treo Cradle Kit Review Treo Cradle Kit Review

Compatibility and Availability
The Palm Treo Cradle Kit is compatible with the Treo 650 & 700 w/p smartphones only. Presumably, the upcoming 750v Treo will also work with this cradle but that is not a certainty by any means due to its potentially different form factor.

Palm handhelds and the Treo 600 are not compatible with this particular cradle. Recent non-Treo Palm handhelds will work with this kit’s included charger and USB cable so multi-Palm households can share some accessories.

I did not have a chance to test this cradle with a Treo flip case or skin case of any sort. However, I have a thin Gadget Grip strip applied to the backside of my 700P for added grip and it gave no difficulties when inserting or removing my 700p from this cradle.

Treo Cradle KitPalm’s online store sells this kit for $59.99 + shipping. It is also available for $39.95 from the PalmInfocenter store. The kit is also available at Palm’s retail shops and kiosks as well as leading e-tailers and retail stores such as CompUSA, Office Depot, and Staples.

Pros:

  • Good assortment of accessories for the $, especially if you pay less than MSRP
  • Very handy spare battery charging pocket
  • Solidly constructed and heavier than the standard Palm handheld cradle so insertion/removal is vastly easier
  • International adapter plugs included
  • Can trickle charge over USB even with the Treo in the cradle

Cons:

  • Rather high MSRP
  • Included AC adapter is on the bulky side
  • Styling is a bit bland. Some aluminum accents or LED lighting could jazz things up!

Conclusion
Palm has produced another fairly strong accessory offering, especially compared to the flashier non-Treo version. The package offers questionable value at its ~$60 MSRP but if found and purchased for less than MSRP it becomes a solid value, considering the quantity and quality of the bundled accessories. I’d not mind giving up the international adapter plugs for a small reduction in the sales price. The extra battery charge pocket is infinitely more useful to the hardcore Treo user than a novelty feature such as a headphone jack or internal speakers.

Palm Treo Cradle Kit

My overall rating:    3.5/5 - Palm Software 3.5 / 5

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Cons

Gekko @ 9/5/2006 7:06:56 PM # Q

1. It won't work with most Treo Cases.
2. You have to hold down the Cradle to life the Treo out.

I was once a cradle-cultist, but am now anti-cradle. When you sync wirelessly, it's superfluous.

p.s. I think this product is at least 2+ years old. Better late than never!


RE: Cons
AdamaDBrown @ 9/5/2006 9:34:49 PM # Q
When you sync wirelessly, it's superfluous.

Charging, Gekko my boy, charging! I haven't synced with a wire for an eternity, but a cradle is still by far the best way to charge.

RE: Cons
Gekko @ 9/5/2006 9:45:12 PM # Q

I find it easier to plug in that tiny plug into the Treo as opposed to snaping the Treo in and out of the cradle. Snapping it OUT is the problem - the cradle is so damn light that you most use two hands to remove the Treo - one to hold the cradle down and one to grab the Treo. It would be nice if the Treo could just sit loose in the cradle and charge, but the interlocking teeth that lock it into the cradle don't make it an easy proposition. I like grab and go, baby!!!!!!!!!!

RE: Cons
joad @ 9/5/2006 9:45:42 PM # Q
I agree with you both. I'd like to use a silicon case, but that's essentially out because of the pain to sync/charge in the cradle.

In Palm's infinite wisdom, it's also the only OEM option to charge the battery outside putting it into another Treo.

I'm still in the cradle-cult, but it's rough to see such uncreative minds planning these accessories out. Oh - and $60 retail apiece, huh?

RE: Cons
hkklife @ 9/5/2006 10:14:41 PM # Q
My old cradle--the one previously reviewed for Athena connector PDAs--actually was usable with SOME cases on my TX. Not all, mind you, but my Vaja and one other case (a no-name skin case from E-Bay) did work on the cradle.

For what it's worth, I bought my Treo cradle kit at Amazon for $30 or $35, so that makes it much more palatable than the $60 Palm is asking.

I personally still like to sync/charge with a cradle because it's a secure place to keep the Treo. I once almost broke my Treo when it was charging with the AC cord. I had set it on top of a CRT TV in a hotel room and we all know how Treos like to "wobble" when they are set on their backs. I don't like to set mine facedown on flat surfaces out of fear of damaging the buttons/screen.


And Gekko...that cradle design might be old (I think it launched after the Treo 650 in fall '04) but it's still being sold as a "new" item in the updated orange Palm packaging AND it's a new cradle design for me since I just got my 700P in June--remember? ;-)

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Treo 700P

RE: Cons
Gekko @ 9/5/2006 10:46:48 PM # Q

nice job on the reviews.

RE: Cons
freakout @ 9/6/2006 7:12:18 AM # Q
The Seidio Innodock Cradle, my friends. Fits around both my Palm leather latch case and my innopocket hard case with minimal fuss. Looks nice on the desk and the Treo comes off and on with ease. My only gripe is the lack of AC charging, 'cause USB charging takes forever.

Also, the Hotsync button doesn't work anymore, which makes me suspect a broken pin. This is more likely the result of my violent abuse of it than a manufacturing fault, though. But it's okay, because it knows I love it and it just shouldn't make me mad like that...

Tim
I apologise for any and all emoticons that appear in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.
Treo 270 ---> Treo 650

RE: Cons
Gekko @ 9/6/2006 8:24:56 AM # Q

I've read many Seidio products are cheaply made - and your post confirms it. And no AC charge? Ridiculous!!!

No thanks, I'll stick with OEM.

RE: Cons
freakout @ 9/6/2006 9:02:40 AM # Q
Confirms it, huh? My one single post about a Seidio product with a possibly broken Hotsync pin (I'll be damned if I can actually see it), in which I said it was probably because of my own clumsiness, confirms that many Seidio products are cheaply made?

There's hyperbole and there's lunacy...

RE: Cons
Gekko @ 9/6/2006 9:15:33 AM # Q

hey silly - go over to treocentral and do a search on seidio and you'll see post after post about their cheaply made products. i meant to say "and your post FURTHER confirms it". now go sit your treo back in it's USB charger so it can slowly trickle charge, silly.

RE: Cons
freakout @ 9/6/2006 9:24:25 AM # Q
Dude, people generally don't post on the internet about how much they love their product. It's the perfect forum for complaints, however, and people looove to complain when something goes wrong. If you go solely by the opinions you read on the internet in choosing your products then you'll be operating with a very skewed picture.

Tim
I apologise for any and all emoticons that appear in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.
Treo 270 ---> Treo 650
RE: Cons
JeffRichardson @ 9/6/2006 11:23:55 AM # Q
For what it is worth, I have had the Seido charger for a long time and I love it. While it doesn't have a power cable, that is actually a plus for me. Last thing I need is more cables running across my desk. It charges and syncs just fine over USB. I don't consider it slow to charge at all. My Treo just sits there during the day, so I always know where it is and I can see the screen if I want to look up a quick number or something, and whenever I take it off of the charger it is charged. Works great.

I know that the unit also has an audio out, but I use an iPod for music, not my Treo, so I haven't tested that function.

For me, the Seido has been a solid product that doesn't take up much space and does exactly what I need. I suppose if I had a second Treo battery, the unit that is the subject of the above review would be tempting.

-Jeff

RE: Cons
hkklife @ 9/6/2006 9:12:51 PM # Q
In case anyone missed it, the Palm Treo cradle DOES charge over USB only. You have to have the Palm USB driver/Palm Desktop installed, of course, but it does charge the Treo seated in the cradle. It just won't charge both the Treo and the spare battery via USB only.

I guesstimate the USB only cradle charge speeds to be roughly 1/2 as fast (peraps a bit faster, actually) vs. plugging the into AC power.

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Treo 700P

Reply to this comment

Another Small Con, But I still use the cradle

keithhat @ 9/5/2006 8:38:42 PM # Q
The sync button on the front of the cradle is USB only. Even if you have the sync profile on the Treo set to a BlueTooth connection it will default back to USB. You will have to use the Hot-Sync GUI to sync over anything other than USB with this cradle. I still feel the cradle is worth it for ~$39, but at ~$59 is a little steep.


- Keith

Treo cradle price check
hkklife @ 9/5/2006 10:22:21 PM # Q
Amazon is selling the kit now for $39.99 w/ free shipping & no sales tax. Much, much better than $60 + shipping + tax from palm.com

You know, I may start adding an addendum to my reviews stating the price I paid and if my final rating would be swayed by a different MSRP price vs. sales price....for "little" items like this, a $34+ discount is a huge factor in the attractiveness of a peripheral.

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Treo 700P

Reply to this comment

So why did we need the Athena Connector again?

craigdts @ 9/5/2006 10:50:34 PM # Q
Can't remember. I don't see any new stunning peripherals for the treos yet.

RE: So why did we need the Athena Connector again?
hkklife @ 9/5/2006 11:13:00 PM # Q
Remember how the rumor back in '04 was that the Athena connector pinout standard was going to support vide-out? THAT'D be a true killer app we haven't seen since the last days of the Clie line.
I'd love to be able to carry a small RCA video-out cable with me when traveling to relatives' house for the holidays. Plug the ol' Palm right into a big screen TV and show everyone family photos. Even at standard NTSC resolution it'd be fine for casual use and impromptu presentations at work.
Heck, I gave a sales presentation on a T|T's screen once so anything is possible!

Probably the "best" Athena accessory I've seen is a nearly homegrown add-on mic for the TX. I just finished reviewing it and it was a pretty pleasant surprise. So the fact that you can do audio-in from the Athena connector (as well as audio-out) is a decent enough gimmick but still an underutilized one.

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Treo 700P

RE: So why did we need the Athena Connector again?
Gekko @ 9/5/2006 11:19:02 PM # Q

Does it make sense for Palm to make the Treo's MP3 features more ROBUST and market a special Treo with ipod capabilities and then cut deals with the music industry to set up a "PalmTunes" music service to capture some of the iPod market??? too little too late??? it has seemed to me for a long time that they never developed or marketed the mp3 features.

RE: So why did we need the Athena Connector again?
The_Voice_of_Reason @ 9/5/2006 11:46:01 PM # Q
Does it make sense for Palm to make the Treo's MP3 features more ROBUST and market a special Treo with ipod capabilities and then cut deals with the music industry to set up a "PalmTunes" music service to capture some of the iPod market??? too little too late??? it has seemed to me for a long time that they never developed or marketed the mp3 features.

In 2003 this would have made sense. In late 2006 it is indeed "too little too late". Take a look at how many tiny featurephones and other smartphones shipping in 2006 have MP3 players. If Creative couldn't beat Apple's iPod/iTunes, how do you expect the incompetents at Palm to have a chance? iPod sales will soon start to decrease as every DUMBphone on the market begins to ship with an MP3 player built in - not because a few boutique smartphones like the brick-sized Treos happen to have a poorly designed, crippled, crappy-sounding MP3player (PocketTunes) included.

Much as was the case with the legendary SDIO, the Athena connector was simply a scam. MiniSD, MicroSD, etc are some other pathetic "standards" inflicted upon consumers.

TVoR

RE: So why did we need the Athena Connector again?
freakout @ 9/6/2006 7:23:34 AM # Q
not because a few boutique smartphones like the brick-sized Treos happen to have a poorly designed, crippled, crappy-sounding MP3player (PocketTunes) included.

I think PocketTunes sounds great - at least compared to the other Palm mp3 players. Handles all kinds of music with great aplomb, any bitrate, any format (bar AAC, of course). The equaliser is a very welcome touch, and the preset Bass Boost works exactly as advertised. Crossfading is a fairly useless novelty, but sounds nice and works flawlessly too. (excluding VBR files, but hey, there's only so much processing power and RAM on a Treo...)

It makes good use of the Treo's exposed keyboard too. There's a keyboard shortcut for almost every function - O to open, L for playlist, E for equaliser, P to play etc. I wish they'd take it further, though, and let you choose songs by typing a few letters. If you're browsing files direct from the SD card, then you can press a letter to skip ahead to a particular section, but this behaivour doesn't apply when using it's own library function. Which is odd.

It's very cosy with the Treo, and handles switching from music to phone calls and back again flawlessly. It runs in the background without a hiccup and the pop-up console is wonderfully handy.

The default skin sucks. High Fidelity that is, not the 700p one, which I may never get to play with so I wouldn't know. (cue violins) But there's a pretty wide variety of skins out there, and some take good advantage of the touchscreen to make Treo mp3 playing a superior experience. I use Gx5's Thumbscreen Freeflow (http://software.palminfocenter.com/product.asp?id=5554) and it's sweet. Easy to thumb around on, shows both song information and your playlist on one convenient screen. What's not to like? (apart from the lack of colour...)

All PocketTunes really lacks is:
- The ability to display album art
- The ability to display song lyrics
- The ability to edit ID3 tags on the go
- Keyboard navigation shortcuts in the library

The greatest compliment I can pay PTunes is that with a high-bitrate file turned up loud, I can barely distinguish it from the CD. But then, I sometimes suspect my ears were grown on the back of laboratory mice, so maybe there's some vicious thing it's doing to the sound that I've missed. ;)

P.S. It also works excellently with my new HS-12W Bluetooth earbuds. Softick Audiogateway is a bit of a kludge and freaks out if it sees a 48khz song, but once it's up an running it's v. nice.

Tim
I apologise for any and all emoticons that appear in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.
Treo 270 ---> Treo 650

RE: So why did we need the Athena Connector again?
The_Voice_of_Reason @ 9/6/2006 11:29:45 PM # Q
Try AeroPlayer (best of a bad lot).

TVoR

RE: So why did we need the Athena Connector again?
freakout @ 9/7/2006 5:47:11 AM # Q
^^ It's alright, but the lack of... Treo-ness, i guess you'd call it (i.e. plenty of keyboard shortcuts) makes it a bit more a pain to operate. And the only way to access the player controls while in another app is by making a command stroke, which is inconvenient at best for a one-handed device. I give it props for sounding the best, though.

Tim
I apologise for any and all emoticons that appear in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.
Treo 270 ---> Treo 650
Reply to this comment

OT

Gekko @ 9/5/2006 11:12:43 PM # Q
funny stuff

>Some analysts even predict Microsoft will cut Palm's market share to 51 percent by 2005.


Palm Inc. Promises New Features
Posted 9:53:54 AM Friday, December 15, 2000
By MAY WONG
AP Technology Writer
http://wire.ap.org/APnews/?SITE=UTSAL&FRONTID=HOME

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — At a Palm Inc. software developers' conference this week, battle lines were drawn for the formidable challenge the world's leading maker of handheld computers expects to wage in 2001 with Microsoft Corp.

As the Internet goes wireless and people begin to rely more and more on handheld devices, Palm will be hard pressed to defend its operating system's ownership of three-quarters of the market.

Some analysts even predict Microsoft will cut Palm's market share to 51 percent by 2005.

``This is a tremendous growth market, and there is a keen interest in staying competitive with that company up north,'' Palm CEO Carl Yankowski told a group of reporters as his company offered a preview of its next-generation tools and features.

Personal digital assistants are among the hottest-selling gadgets around.

Palm says it has sold more than 8.7 million PDAs since introducing the PalmPilot in 1996. This year alone, 4.4 million handhelds using the Palm operating system will have been sold — including those of year-old rival Handspring, according to International Data Corp.

IDC projects, however, that Microsoft will essentially double its market share in operating platforms from the current 18 percent within four years.

Santa Clara may be Palm's home turf.

But that wasn't keeping Microsoft from living up to its aggressive industry reputation by hosting a separate, invitation-only reception for developers during the Palm event.

``Palm certainly has a lot of users, and there are applications that their users can't live without. We're interested in talking to those people who are building those applications,'' said Ed Suwanjindar, product manager for Microsoft's mobile devices division.

Microsoft currently has a more robust, multimedia-friendly handheld platform, and Palm has no illusions.

At the conference, Palm said it planned to support ARM-based microprocessors, which would allow PDAs to better support demanding applications including streaming video, in its version 5.0 operating system, due in 2002.

The promise brought cheers and applause from some of the 4,000 developers, who didn't get excited again until supermodel Claudia Schiffer appeared to show off a special metallic blue Palm named after her.

Competing devices from Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. running Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system already use ARM-based chips.

``Wireless is huge, and if you don't get it into your devices — you're in trouble,'' said Lonnon Foster, a Palm client developer with Wavelink and author of ``The Palm OS Programming Bible.''

The Boston-based Yankee Group estimates there will be more than 1 billion Web-enabled mobile devices worldwide by 2003, generating nearly two-thirds of all Web transactions.

The Palm VII already offers wireless Internet access and the company now sells a kit to enable mobile Internet over lower-end Palm devices. But Palm lags in wireless features.

Handspring, for example, has expansion slots in its Visor PDA that accommodate a wireless modem, a cellphone or a module that uses Bluetooth short-range radio technology.

Bluetooth allows devices to communicate untethered within a 30-foot range. It is considered a key emerging standard for communicating with everything from PCs to garage doors.

``Palm was the first to have a built-in modem in its (Palm VII) devices, but for them to be truly successful, they'll have to make every Palm pilot wirelessly enabled,'' said Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies.

Palm's next big move is the introduction, in the first half of 2001, of version 4.0 of the Palm OS, which will support Bluetooth and wireless telephony. Palm also plans to introduce expansion slot options, the company says, that would allow for expanded storage, telephony, multimedia and Bluetooth uses.

And it is licensing the OS to other companies.

Samsung Electronics is joining Nokia, Motorola and Kyocera in marketing a ``smartphone'' that uses the Palm OS to integrate Internet surfing and e-mail into a cellphone. Future OSes also will support higher screen resolutions and richer color — another area where Palm is behind.

Firepad, which makes video and graphics applications exclusively for Palm OS devices, has run up against limitations such as Palm's 8-bit color in its Palm IIIc models. Handspring's Visor and some Windows devices feature 16-bit color support.

Still, Firepad said it plans to stick to developing solely for Palm operating systems and will take advantage of its upcoming new features, that could support streaming video.

``Multimedia is the one area where Microsoft is trying to break Palm's armor, and our application will close that hole,'' said Mike Grenier, a business development manager at Firepad.

Palm executives hinted that the company one day may consider splitting its handheld device and operating system licensing businesses.

They are beginning to see an important share of income — revenues for the quarter ending Sept. 1 jumped to $401 million from $176.5 million a year ago — from the licensing of their operating system.

Which had company chief competitive officer Michael Mace exuding confidence that partnerships with companies including Nokia and Motorola would fortify Palm in its coming struggles with Microsoft.

Diminished market share? Humbug!

``In the last three years, third-party analysts have said that Palm was about to decline in the next year,'' Mace said. ``Instead, Palm has grown tremendously and we think that's going to continue next year.''


RE: OT
Gekko @ 9/5/2006 11:15:53 PM # Q
>``In the last three years, third-party analysts have said that Palm was about to decline in the next year,'' Mace said. ``Instead, Palm has grown tremendously and we think that's going to continue next year.''

Thanks, Mike!

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Treo cradle

pedals615 @ 9/10/2006 2:23:50 PM # Q
I too have a TX and bought a cradle for it not realizing I'd finally get at Treo when I did. Of course the sizes are different even though the connectors are the same. I didn't feel like shelling out for another cradle when I was going to be syncing both, so I popped out the white lens over the LED that gives enough cleareance for the Treo to fit. The bare LED glows now which is no biggie and the Treo fits securely enough to stand up and if I want to sync or charge the TX it will work well enough or I can temporarily pop the white lens back on... I hope this helps someone in a similar situation, I've given enough of my money to palm over the years always upgrading because I had to have the next great innovation.

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