MobileInfocenter

Palm Treo 680 Review

Treo 680 ReviewBy: Ryan Kairer
December 4, 2006

The Treo 680 is the fourth and final new Treo promised by Palm prior to the start of 2006. When it was announced it was billed by Palm as a lower cost, more affordable Treo. Palm has hopes that more customers migrate from the realms of feature phones and choose a Treo. To date price, complexity and the larger form factor of smartphones have held back most average users from choosing a smartphone. The Treo 680 addresses these points and debuts with the lowest introductory price of any new Treo smartphone.

Besides the nice price, the best new aspect of the Treo 680 is its slimmer and lighter form factor. While it doesn't seem like much of a difference on paper, the new size feels absolutely great and won't weigh down your pocket. Compared to the Treo 650 or a 700p, there is a very noticeable difference in weight, not so much with the thickness. The 680 is 2.3mm slimmer, but still a bit on the thick side for a mobile phone. It holds well in hand and grips better due to its more angled in sides. It also looks much more attractive, though slightly less distinctive without its external antenna, however that won't be missed by most.

The top of the 680 has a smooth black portion that contains the IR window and the silent mode switch. The silent mode switch now vibrates when activated, giving you a physical confirmation that it is engaged. It's also been made flush against the top and the notch shows a red strip to let you know its in the on position. The left side has the volume keys and a customizable side key, which is set to activate the voice recorder by default.

The right side is free of buttons and holds the SD card section in the center. The SD slot is now tucked away behind a small plastic door. The door is easy to access and remains hinged to the side via two flexible rubber joints. On my unit the cover seemed a little flimsy. When closed it doesn't always stay totally flush with the side and the cover pokes out a bit. While not a huge problem, I wonder if it would get worse over time.

On the top of the front-side is a small LED that simply now indicates battery charging status and also lights up when the phone is booting and when the radio powers up. In the center to the right of that is the main phone earpiece speaker. Thats followed by the display, the application and phone buttons, 5-way navigator and the thumb keyboard. Along the very bottom is the 2.5 mm headset port, charging and hotsync connectors and the phone mic.



Treo 680 Review Treo 680 Review Treo 680 Review

The center 5-way navigator is a bit larger and has more of a inward curve to it making it a little easier to grip and thumb around with. The row of application buttons below the screen are user changeable and by default take you to the Phone app, Agenda view (calendar), email and home (programs). Hitting the blue option key before tapping a button gives you a few more shortcuts which you can also customize. The app buttons are now literally paired up together on each side, though they still operate independently. The home button has a new feature if you hold it for a few seconds it brings up a pop-up list of your last 8 apps.

The Treo 680 has the now standard green and red dedicated send/end call buttons just below the display. The red end key also turns the screen on and off and activates the keyguard. The end key is now the only means to end a call, as the onscreen display icon option has been removed.

Treo 680 ReviewThe keyboard has square thumb keys in a smile pattern arrangement. This time around the keys are a little smaller and packed in slightly closer together. Palm has even changed to font used on the keys to fit better. I didn't notice a big difference in typing speed or accuracy. The overall thumboard experience wasn't any more difficult than earlier models, but its worth pointing out even if the changes are relatively minor. The backlighting on the keyboard and buttons is bright and consistent and the keys have a nice white illumination.

The stylus silo is in the usual top rear corner the back, while on the other side of the top back is a black rubber cover for the internal antenna. Just below that in the top center of the back is the speaker grill, camera lens and portrait mirror assembly. On my standard color Cingular unit, the grill is a lighter silver color with a square row of speaker holes in a 6x6 pattern. The included stylus is mostly a thin black plastic rail with a small metal tip portion. It's pretty flimsy and can actually bend a bit with pressure.

The Treo 680 has dimensions of 2.29" x 4.40" x 0.8" inches (58.4 x 111.8 x 20.3 mm) and weighs in at 5.5 ounces (156g).

One interesting design change is the removal of the reset button. You're simply expected to disconnect the battery in order to reboot the Treo now. The same procedures apply for hard resets, simply remove the battery while holding down the power button as the device reboots.

The 680 is the first Treo to be made available in a variety of colors. The colored editions are sold as "Unlocked devices" exclusively from Palm.com. The SIM unlocked version denotes that it can be used with just about any GSM service provider with an existing GSM/GPRS/EDGE service plan. Cingular only offers the "graphite" color model and it is SIM locked to the Cingular network. Palm is currently offering the 680 in four colors: graphite (gray), copper (orange), Arctic (white) and crimson (red).

Palm Treo 680 colors

Hardware

The Treo 680 is powered by a 312 MHz PXA270 Intel XScale processor. It has 64MB non-volatile internal flash memory available for user storage. The dbcache is now up to 24 MB and the dbheap has a 10 MB capacity.

The Treo 680 has a SD/MMC memory expansion slot. It includes a FAT32 driver which adds support for SD cards up to 2 GB in size. Most standard 4GB cards will also work, but there may still be some incompatible ones out there. While the SD slot does support SDIO accessories with Palm OS device drivers, Wi-Fi via an SD card is still not supported. Palm has stated they have no plans to support WiFi on this model. The new SD slot cover provides an extra bit of security as you won't have to worry about about lost cards from tragic pocket ejections or accidental bumps.

Treo 680 Review

Display
The Treo 680 has a 2" x 2" inch square touchscreen display. It is a 320 x 320 pixel TFT screen that supports 65,000 colors. The display is plenty bright, even at the middle brightness setting, and holds up well outdoors and in direct sunlight. The screen is a slight, but noticeable improvement over the Treo 650's. Colors are richer with better overall color saturation, improved depth and whites stand out better when compared side by side.

Having more pixels than most other smartphones is a definite selling point. People are often impressed at the quality of digital video the small Treo screen. CorePlayer supports pretty much all the formats including avi, mpeg, divx and mp4 (video iPod) files. You can convert your own videos using VEMoDe and there are a number of DVD mobile conversion programs. There is also a free app available that can automatically convert content from a Tivo DVR.

Camera
The Treo 680 has a built in VGA camera with 640x480 (0.3 megapixel) resolution and automatic light balancing. It has 2x digital zoom and can also capture movie clips in the .3gp format. Pictures are captured at a max 640x480 size, and movie clips have a 352x288 resolution. The camera's performance is equal to the Treo 650's. The resolution is very low and shots almost always end up being a little blurry and soft. It is disappointing Palm couldn't fit something a little better in here, but it works fine for quick shots on your phone and for creating picture contacts. Here are a few unedited example shots taken with the 680:

Treo 680 Camera Example Treo 680 Camera Example Treo 680 Camera Example

Bluetooth
The Treo 680 has built in Bluetooth wireless capabilities. This allows for accessories such as wireless Bluetooth headsets, GPS navigation kits and using the 680 as a wireless modem for your laptop. The v1.2 spec allows for faster device connections and adds the ability to use multiple Bluetooth devices concurrently. There is a new option to leave the device in discoverable mode for a short time period.

Phone

The 680's phone is a GSM/GPRS/EDGE Class 10 device. It has a quad-band (850/900/1800/1900) capable radio. Data speeds on EDGE networks in the US usually average around 80 - 130kbit/s. When an EDGE connection is not available the 680 can fall back on GPRS data speeds. Palm says the internal antenna has better RF reception than the Treo 650's external stub antenna. In my informal tests the 680 matched the 650 in signal strength wherever we went and I never noticed a big difference in signal strength.

The 680's phone is powered by a new Broadcom BCM2133 chipset. The overall call and sound quality was a lot better than what I was used to with the GSM Treo 650. The call quality was much clearer and calls dialed out and connected quicker. The volume is also improved and now works at a satisfactory level. This was a big concern seeing that VolumeCare and other Treo utilities that increase the call volume limits have been some of the most popular Treo apps out there.

Treo 680 ReviewThe 680 has some other notable improvements to its phone hardware. It has a reduced Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) rating. SAR is a value that corresponds to the relative amount of RF energy absorbed in the head of a user of a wireless handset. The GSM Treo 650 was one of the highest-radiation mobile phones in the US with a SAR of 1.51 W/kg. The Treo 680 has almost half that with a 0.780 W/kg rating. I also had a annoying issue with my GSM 650 interfering with many stereo speakers and some CRT monitors. It would often produce a buzz when the radio was active or when a call was about to come in. I also hear this effect some car and personal radios. Thankfully the 680 does not exhibit this same interference behavior and coexists peacefully with my speakers while resting on my desktop.

Audio
The 680 has the usual Treo dual speaker design, with the front earpiece speaker used for phone calls only while the rear handles the speakerphone, sysytem sounds, games and music. If you want to listen to digital audio via a headset with standard headphones you'll need to use a 3.5mm stereo adapter accessory. The rear mono speaker is well placed next to the camera on the back and can get quite loud. There is an varied selection of ringtones that can also be used as alarms. You can even record your own sounds to be used as a custom ringtone via the voice recorder. You can transfer wav and midi files via Bluetooth, beaming or hotsync to your device for use as ringtones as well.

Phone Functionality

The Phone application is the centerpiece of the phone functionality that controls calls, contacts, dialing, call log and accessing your shortcut favorites buttons. The Treo 680 includes v3.0 of the Phone app, which sports a new five tabbed simplified user interface. It integrates all the common phone functions and makes it easier to jump between the various screens. The phone application is also the main place that displays your phone signal and battery strength, bluetooth status, data status as well as the number of new text or email messages. You can customize the wallpaper and there is also an option to show your next upcoming calendar appointment.

From the main phone screen you can simply start typing in letters and it will display your matching contacts, or just tap right on the d-pad to browse all of your contacts. You can also press the green send button when on the main phone screen to bring up a quick list of your recently dialed calls. The favorites tab allows you to setup quick shortcuts to frequently dialed numbers, groups of contacts, device applications, emails and also web links. It now shows the list of shortcuts in a single horizontal list that grows as you add new favorites. The phone dialing pad with the large onscreen numbers and call history log each have their own tabs as well.

Palm Treo 680 screenshot Palm Treo 680 screenshot Palm Treo 680 screenshot Palm Treo 680 screenshot Palm Treo 680 screenshot

The call in progress screen has also been revised with some nice new features. When a call made, the screen shows a small treo icon next to the name or number. If the current number has a picture stored in the contacts it will show their personal picture as an icon. Call related options and functions are available as large on screen buttons and now have a small text bar along the bottom that describes the current highlighted option. With one click you can activate the speakerphone, start a conference call, mute, switch lines on call waiting or exit out to the device to lookup something in your datebook or other application and remain on the call. When a call ends with newly dialed or unknown number, the Treo will ask if you want to save the number as new contact or add to an existing contact. It's a nice feature and you can also shut it off if you don't need it.

When you have an incoming call, the phone displays the name and caller picture (if you have one assigned). Underneath the answer and ignore options is a large button that allows you to "Ignore by Text." This is a popular feature taken from the 700w that enables you to decline a call and quickly type in an sms message letting the caller know you are busy.

Treo 680 ReviewOne Hand Operation
Even though it has a touchscreen and stylus available, the 680 really excels at one-handed operation. The 5-way navigator and on screen blue cursor combine to make most actions and tasks work without having to tap on the screen. In fact, it's pretty rare that I even use the stylus, except for games. Its a well implemented feature that really makes using the smartphone more intuitive and enjoyable.

Battery
The Treo 680 has a 1200 mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery that can be removed via the cover on the back. Official battery lifetime is rated at 4 hours talk and 300 hours standby. I can tell you that you won't get anything near 300 hours standby as battery performance was disappointing. It was a step back from what I was used to with the 650's decent battery life. Even with light phone use I would have to charge every other day. Sometimes just leaving the phone on overnight I would find it drains by about 15 - 20% by the next morning when it wasn't being used. (UPDATE: This problem has been remedied by the Treo 680 Camera Update.)

The 680 doesn't seem any more power hungry, it just uses a much smaller battery that has less capacity that its predecessor. Unfortunately that's the trade-off Palm had to make to design a smaller and lighter model. While the battery life is not totally terrible, it will seem a lot shorter if you're used to the 650. Even with heavy use you'll at least get a days worth out of it, which is comparable to other smartphones currently on the market. Larger capacity aftermarket batteries will eventually be released, but in the mean time you'll likely need to keep the charger close by or pack a spare if you're a heavy power user. Of course, battery life varies greatly with how you personally use the device and its features.

Treo 680 - 650 comparison

Software

The Treo 680 runs the Palm OS Garnet operating system v5.4.9. While this is still the same Palm OS 5 Garnet core, there have been a number of improvements to the Palm Treo platform that extend the functionality and multimedia capabilities of this device.

Besides the new phone app, the included software is virtually identical to the Treo 700p. Present is the usual Palm PIM suite which includes the Calendar, Contacts, Memos and Tasks (ToDo). Voice Recorder is present for voice memos, Pics&Videos does a good job organizing and displaying your photos and videos shot with the Treo. The whole user manual is included in the MyTreo app, which is a good way to get to know the ins and outs of the device and it also provides some basic tips and tricks for getting the most out of the device.

Pocket Tunes is included on the device for MP3 digital audio and music playback. Owners will have an option to upgrade to Pocket Tunes Deluxe for WMA/PlaysForSure support to subscribe to online digital music stores. Pocket Tunes works well and has robust support for playlists, background play and sorting through artists and tracks on SD cards. The 680 also has some of the nice streaming media features that debuted on the 700p. Both video and audio streaming over the Internet is now built in. You can access many common live radio and video streams. For instance, you can navigate to npr.com in the web browser and click on the 'live audio link' the media player will launch and start streaming NPR's live radio feed to the Treo. You can also visit a some movie preview websites such as Netflix.com and watch the streaming movie trailers.

Documents to Go v8.003 is included for office support. Docs to Go supports creating and editing native Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint files. v8 also includes PDF to Go, which is a native Adobe PDF viewer. You can view and edit office files received from email attachments, stored on SD or beamed and transfered to the device. Docs to Go also comes with a hotsync client that can keep your documents in sync with your desktop.

Email
Versamail v3.52 is included as the default email client, and has been renamed to simply "Email." It supports POP, IMAP and Microsoft Exchange accounts. The program also has preset support for Gmail, Yahoo Mail, .Mac, AOL email and others. For Enterprise users whose organizations run Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, the Treo 680 has built in Exchange Server ActiveSync that will directly import and enable corporate email, calendar and contact synchronization. Versamail is a fairly good email program, and if you are looking for push email options or other clients there is a wide selection of alternatives available.

Web
Blazer v4.5 is included for browsing the web. Blazer has been enhanced with new caching rules that make browsing both mobile device optimized and full size websites a more pleasant experience. Instead of having to refresh and reload the entire page each time you exit the browser or use the back and forward buttons, the page is reloaded from the device cache. This enables much faster navigation and rendering when browsing the web or jumping from the browser to another application and back. Palm has also improved JavaScript support, which increases the number of sites accessible and usable on the device. Previously on the 650, sites that used Javascript would render many sites inoperable and would sometimes even cause the treo to reboot. The browser is also better at loading and displaying larger, designed for desktop sites.

Palm Treo 680 screenshot Palm Treo 680 screenshot Palm Treo 680 screenshot Palm Treo 680 screenshot Palm Treo 680 screenshot

Crimson Palm Treo 680One the desktop side of things, Palm includes their Quick Install program for Windows. Quick Install simplifies installing Palm OS programs and converting documents and photos. Users can drag zip files, prc application files, photos, videos and even MS office files into the app and it will preform the necessary conversion and install the the files on the next hotsync. The software CD includes the Palm Desktop v4.2 for Windows XP/2000 and Mac OS X (10.2 and above) as well as the palmOne Outlook Conduit.

Don't forget, there are thousands of commercial, freeware and open source applications, games and utilities available for the Palm OS platform that you can download and install to your device in addition to what is built-in. There is a active developer community that creates some very handy treo specific programs and utilities that can enhance your device.

A unique new service that comes with the 680 is that Cingular and Palm will offer free telephone customer help desk support for 90 days after purchase. This is meant to help new customers get setup smoothly and answer questions. They will help users do anything from setting up email to customizing ringtones.



Summary
Treo 680 brings a much needed slimmer look and feel to the Treo line at a very nice price point. While still not the flashiest or thinnest smartphone out there, the Treo 680 still demonstrates why the Treo leads with its ease of use, large software library and powerful functionality. To trim the size a significant battery life compromise had to be made which may be a deal breaker for some. However the lighter load on your wallet and pocket make up for keeping a spare battery close at hand. Technical nitpicking aside, the Treo 680 is a very powerful smartphone that is a very capable and easy to use.

The unlocked Treo 680 is available in four colors exclusively from Palm.com for $399 USD. It is available from Cingular for as low at $199. The $199 price applies after a two year contract agreement and a unlimited data plan. It will also be available for $279 with a one year agreement and $449 with no contract commitment.

Article Comments

 (112 comments)

The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. PalmInfocenter is not responsible for them in any way.
Please Login or register here to add your comments.

Start a new Comment Down View Full Comment Thread

$449 from cingular or $399 from Palm

neuron @ 12/4/2006 6:48:37 PM # Q
Let's see:
$449 from cingular, one color only and locked.

Palm.com
$399 with four colors, unlocked and $135 music pack free.

Can't image what kind of people will buy from cingular.

RE: $449 from cingular or $399 from Palm
bsquare @ 12/4/2006 10:21:05 PM # Q

What exactly does this "mobile music kit" provide? I can see where they are offering it at Palm.com, but don't see where it says what it includes. A small SD card of some sort and some crappy ear-buds? I'm not trying to justify the Cingular model in any way here, just curious. The locked Cingular version makes zero sense.

RE: $449 from cingular or $399 from Palm
neuron @ 12/4/2006 11:04:27 PM # Q
The music pack does worth at least $50~70

1. 1GB SD, at least $15 to $20 if you don't want to deal with rebate.

2. hybrid headphone, $25 at least, never be cheaper. There are some generic hybrid headphone, but the quality (esp echo) is just too bad.

3. Pocket Tune deluxe: $24.99 (for treo 680 owners to upgrade).

4. One month yahoo music pass ($0)

Reply to this comment

680 blah blah...

surfmaniac @ 12/4/2006 6:58:33 PM # Q
Looks like a winner to me. I don't think most normal cellphone users care about the more technical aspects,all they are going to see is a nicely packaged 'smartphone' that lets them do a hell of a lot more than most 'regular; cells, with a price tag pretty comparable.

And could sell big into Christmas,with those groovy colors (I know my 19 year old cousin was pretty stoked about the orange one...)


RE: 680 blah blah...
atrizzah @ 12/4/2006 10:25:52 PM # Q
I have to agree. It doesn't blow my mind or anything, but it also doesn't have any major achilles heels like most of Palms recent products. I just wish it could do Wi-Fi. Is there a sled for that, by any chance?

Peace Out
Alan
RE: 680 blah blah...
joad @ 12/5/2006 12:07:41 AM # Q
I corresponded with Enfora (the sledmakers) and they seemed to have no intentions of bringing out anything past the Treo 600 and 650 wifi sleds. Probably fell into the reality that many manufacturers find - Palm makes so many nonsensical cosmetic changes between models that third-party manufacturers get stuck with a lot of expensive unsold inventory that's basically written off once the "new models" come out.

And the more complicated the device - such as a wifi sled - the further out in the Palm product cycle the devices get released. In other words, by the time the manufacturer gets the bugs out of the manufacturing process and gets them into the retail chain, Palm has released a "new and improved" model that's incompatible with the device they just made. Heck, the Treo has an SDIO slot but can't even handle Palm's own wifi card (for whatever reason).

Once again, through it's ham-handed approaches, Palm seems to work as hard as it can to discourage the third-party innovators that made PalmPilots the incredibly useful device they are/were.

RE: 680 blah blah...
cervezas @ 12/5/2006 12:33:54 AM # Q
There's nothing "ham-handed" about the fact that none of the Treos has WiFi. It's 100% intentional and is the price that Palm and its customers pay the wireless carriers for the right to use their networks.

Do you think Nokia was "ham-handed" for oopsie-daisy "forgetting" to put the WiFi radios in the American Nokia E61 (a.k.a the E62)? Even the mighty Nokia must bow and pay tribute if they want their handsets to be sold by the US carriers.

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: 680 blah blah...
freakout @ 12/5/2006 6:13:22 AM # Q
There is a good point to be made about the lack of SDIO wifi. Why are the Windows Treos allowed to have it but not the Palm ones? Is it a Garnet issue? Or do the carriers think no one will buy a WinMob device if it doesn't support wifi?

Tim
I apologise for any and all emoticons that appear in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.
Treo 270 ---> Treo 650
RE: 680 blah blah...
jfme @ 12/5/2006 6:54:26 AM # Q
"There is a good point to be made about the lack of SDIO wifi. Why are the Windows Treos allowed to have it but not the Palm ones? Is it a Garnet issue? Or do the carriers think no one will buy a WinMob device if it doesn't support wifi?"

I think it is just a matter of taking the effort to write the drivers. After all the SDIO hardware support is there in the Treo 680.

Maybe it is not a good business case to get an extra $100 from Treo customers for the Wifi card. Because you know everyone will run to buy those cards if they are ever supported in Palm Treos.

RE: 680 blah blah...
cervezas @ 12/5/2006 10:40:42 AM # Q
I don't believe for a minute it's because Palm didn't want to take the time to write the drivers. I think it's more a question of market segmentation. The Windows Mobile Treos are overwhelmingly going to be used in corporate situations where the carriers recognize they are going to have to be flexible on the networks they will let companies use. The Palm OS Treos (esp the 680) are probably seen as more of a cross-over prosumer device where the network will be used for downloading music, video clips, and other content that the carriers want you to buy within their walled gardens rather than over your home WiFi Internet connection.

Whatever the logic is that dictated the decision, you can be assured that it was the carriers' logic, not Palm's.

For what it's worth, if you read the job descriptions at Palm.com there's "WiFi this" and "WiFi that" so I expect to see the picture change on the WiFi front before long. 'Course that could be for Palm's secret "Third Business" device that's supposed to be out next year.

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: 680 blah blah...
jfme @ 12/5/2006 11:09:14 AM # Q
Cervezas,
I see your point. However, If the reason is "carrier" based, I wonder why they decided to leave T-Mobile out. They have a paid Wi-Fi service.

I wonder how long it will be until a Palm OS Genius comes up with the drivers. I am sure there are several hundred thousand Treo owners wanting Wi-Fi.


RE: 680 blah blah...
jfme @ 12/5/2006 11:21:19 AM # Q
Oh..and another thing

Is Cingular subsidising the Unlocked Treo 680 also?
Do they have that much control over Palm as to prevent them the support of their own wi-fi add on?

Wow...

RE: 680 blah blah...
cervezas @ 12/5/2006 11:31:39 AM # Q
jfme wrote:
Do they have that much control over Palm as to prevent them the support of their own wi-fi add on?

You could call it control, but it really just comes down to negotiation. Palm wants the carriers to subsidize their devices heavily and the carrier is naturally going to ask "what are you going to do to help us recoup our subsidy." If Palm comes back and says "well, we were thinking about releasing an unlocked version with a WiFi driver that will free Cingular customers from having to buy their music and video clips from your store and from having to buy premium data plans" how well do you think that plays with Cingular? Think they're going to give Palm the nice subsidy they're asking for?

Bottom line: Palm figures they'll get more customers by negotiating better carrier subsidies to bring the price to the customer down than by adding WiFi. My guess is that the number of people that decision upsets is probably less than the number of customers who are happy to see a sub-$200 price tag on the subsidized Treo 680. Sadly, (from our power-user perspective) it's probably a lot less.

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: 680 blah blah...
cervezas @ 12/5/2006 11:43:53 AM # Q
As for T-Mobile, the reason they're taking a chance on the WiFi service is because they're the smallest network and they're looking for any kind of differentiation that will help them compensate. Of course, being small (and having a lot fewer subscribers) also gives them less leverage than Cingular or Verizon. Cingular may actually make deals with Palm, for example, under which Palm promises not to release a WiFi-enabled Treo for any other carrier for a certain period of time... in exchange, again, for a generous subsidy on Cingular's Palm handsets.

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
www.pikesoft.com/blog
RE: 680 blah blah...
buckeyetex315-2 @ 12/5/2006 1:52:36 PM # Q
cervezas wrote:

You could call it control, but it really just comes down to negotiation. Palm wants the carriers to subsidize their devices heavily and the carrier is naturally going to ask "what are you going to do to help us recoup our subsidy."


Good business analysis as usual, David. Just look at the business models of (the "new") AT&T and Verizon or any other carrier for that matter and remember they're in business to make money even though we want to pay less all the time.

With the price per minute of even wireless voice dropping, the wireless carriers have to make money somehow and that somehow is wireless data. Even the price per MB of that service is dropping. For example, Cingular (soon to be AT&T Wireless again - what goes around comes around) has unlimited EDGE data plans for $39.99 per month. Seems it wasn't too long ago that posters on this site were complaining that data plans were at least 2 or 3 times that price per month.

As far as exclusive releases, that does happen. One of the carriers usually has at least one or two new phones a year before any other carrier gets them. The carriers have even more pull with smartphones - thus the different versions for different carriers. Some of it has to do with the differing mobile technologies, but some of it is just cosmetic - look at the color differences on the 700p between Sprint and Verizon.

Yeah, wireless carriers have a LOT of pull...

Brent


Palm Vx -----> LONG WAIT -----> Palm T|X

RE: 680 blah blah...
hkklife @ 12/5/2006 2:22:59 PM # Q
Don't kid yourselves, folks...Palm's definitely preventing wi-fi SDIO cards from working on their devices. And you can be assured that out of utter fear of the carriers Palm'll squash any efforts to get a hacked wi-fi SDIO driver working on any POS Treos.

The same "trembling with fear" rationale is why Palm disabled CDMA BT DUN functionality on their final few handhelds (LifeDrive & TX). They want to sell higher-margin, hevily subsidized Treos and the carriers (especially the 2 CDMA biggies Sprint & Verizon) want to sell overpriced data plans to recoup those subsidies as Beersie points out.

Remember, folks, the domestic CDMA market essentially operates in a vacum and does not follow the same technology, pricing, styling trends seen in GSM markets globally.

Prediction time again:
Assuming Palm doesn't get acquired in the next 3-6 months, the know they have to do something to expand their product line past a handful of similar-looking Treo handsets. Since Palm's shiiit-canned the PDA line, expect something like a data-centric Nokia 770-style cellular "tablet", likely sold in 2 flavors (a pricier wi-fi/BT hybrid version and a EVDO/BT "carrier" version). That way, by keeping this secret "3rd business" looking decidedly unlike a standard candybar or flip phone, Palm can pick some of the legacy PDA business while keeping the carriers (mostly) happy & not cannibalizing Treo sales too much. The "bring yer own connectivity" wi-fi/BT model can be targeted towards the folks like Mike Cane who refuse to sign up for a cellular contract and/or don't need any voice functionality at all.

All of this, of course, could basically be done within something like a regular Palm TX formfactor right now but it'd be too much work/cost for FrakenGarnet and, given the resolution limit of 320*480, not worth the effort. I predict that Palm is going 100% WinMob after the 680.

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

RE: 680 blah blah...
SeldomVisitor @ 12/5/2006 3:16:35 PM # Q
I think PALM easily could come out with (*) a flip phone that's DUHmb and a boatload of other stuff that smartens it up - like a server that serves applications on the fly to it...or a separate camera (or set of cameras - like a head-mounted one, too!)...that all communicate together.

======

(*) That is, I could easily envision PALM coming out with these, not that PALM could do anything easily given their small size.

RE: 680 blah blah...
hkklife @ 12/5/2006 3:25:00 PM # Q
SV;

That's too logical a move for Palm. Also, aren't Palm rather terrified of being a content/software solutions provider? Their track record so far is the huge palm.net VII/i705 debacle and offering VersaMail 3.5 upgrades.

I proposed ages ago that Palm rebrand & remarket their remaining PDAs as "phone companions" instead of "PDAs" or "handhelds". They could then push those "phone companions" to folks that might have a particular need or want not met by the very limited Treo line.

For example, I really prefer a 320*480 screen, 128mb, and wi-fi. I had that a year ago on my TX but no Treo currently offers any of those particular features. So why can Palm not sell a $20 downloable "plugin" driver (tied to device hardware ID or Hotsync-ID specific) for the E2/LD/TX tailored for whatever type of BT-enabled cellular handset someone owns? Imagine the Phone Link software updated on a bi-weekly or monthly basis and marketed much more aggressively.

So if I own a CDMA handset with BT that supports the DUN profile, I pay my carrier to turn on EVDO tethering and then "buy" the driver/init string from Palm. That way everyone gets their share of the pie and I don't have to be saddled with a Treo's lackluster featureset. Right now I have a $80 voice plan on my Verizon dumbphone & a $55 data-only package on my Treo. I'd rather carry a sleek BT phone + a TX or a Zodiac instead of a Treo and a dumbphone if the monthly charges are going to be the same and I'm going to have to fumble with two devices anyway!

It's just classic Palm shortsightedness. They'd rather disble something like BT DUN and feign ignorance than try and make a few bucks off of it & offer solutions tailored to fit each user's needs.

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

RE: 680 blah blah...
joad @ 12/5/2006 4:53:52 PM # Q
>There's nothing "ham-handed" about the fact that none of the Treos has WiFi.

I agree with you here, and if you are responding to my use of that term you'll see that I said the exact same thing: it's the carriers dictating the "no wifi."

My use of the word "ham-handed" referred to Palm making it extremely difficult for third-party manufacturers to effectively develop and innovate with the Palm hardware (sleds, etc.) because by the time any innovative hardware product gets tested and packaged Palm seems to release a "new" model that is unnecessarily incompatible with the new hardware. If you don't believe me, I've got probably a thousand dollars or so of prematurely obsolete Palm-intended modems, GPS devices, cables, sleds, chargers, cradles, batteries.... I guess we'll be throwing out many tons of 650/700 batteries soon, too if the 680 size takes hold.

If I can't afford to invest in Palm add-ons, you can bet that most innovative manufacturers who want to stay in business have walked away also. And Palm seems to have forgotten (or resents?) just how much value the third-party add-ons made their devices over the years.

Maybe you're right Beersey- could be it's not "ham-handedness" that has Palm chasing away innovators. Maybe they are doing it with intention.

Reply to this comment

Palm releasing inferior products yet again.

dcsmith77 @ 12/4/2006 8:21:46 PM # Q
I've had my treo 650 since it came out, and the 680 (The only palm device my carrier provides) is not an upgrade in any way. When I look at the competition (HTC TYTN, Q, hp 6915, Nokia n93 and 95) I see megapixel or 2 megapixel cameras (the nokia has a 5 megapixel camera) and integrated gps. I love palm os, and the idea of ALP has kept me waiting to buy a new phone, but it seems that palm just wants to dissappoint it's loyal customers. The 680 is nothing but a 650 refresh, and the 700 and 750 are marginally better. Meanwhile the windows mobile crowd gets better and better devices. Even the blackberry pearl is starting to look appealing as it at least has a megapixel camera. I stay with palm because of maybe 4 apps, but I don't know how much longer I'm willing to wait.

RE: Palm releasing inferior products yet again.
freakout @ 12/4/2006 9:34:00 PM # Q
(HTC TYTN, Q, hp 6915, Nokia n93 and 95) I see megapixel or 2 megapixel cameras (the nokia has a 5 megapixel camera) and integrated gps.

The TYTN is huge and does not have an exposed keyboard. (sliding is more comfortable to type on, but much less convenient...)
The Q does not have a touchscreen, runs the awful WinMob Smartphone edition and by all accounts has an even more anemic battery than most smartphones.
Neither of the Nokias have an exposed keyboard, nor a touchscreen.

The Treo has its own advantages.

680 is a big improvement over the 650
cervezas @ 12/4/2006 9:45:50 PM # Q
dcsmith wrote:
I've had my treo 650 since it came out, and the 680 (The only palm device my carrier provides) is not an upgrade in any way....

That's funny. I've gone back and forth between the 650 and 680 for the last 5 weeks and think the 680 is a surprising upgrade in almost every way. The extra memory is a godsend, the slimmer, lighter body has finally resulted in a Treo that is comfortably pocketable, the new Phone app is well thought out, the browser is much better, and it just looks good and feels great in your hand. The only thing I care about that is a slight let-down is the shorter battery life, and even that gets me easily through the heaviest usage days I've been able to throw at it. The thing you complain the most about--the fact that the camera is crappy--is the thing I wish they'd just leave out completely. Don't need it, don't want it, don't care whether it sucks or not.

Nice review, Ryan.

Oh, and by the way, a little bird told me over the weekend that Cingular changed their mind and will have the color Treo 680 after all.

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: Palm releasing inferior products yet again.
lacharlie @ 1/21/2007 9:38:16 PM # Q
I've had my new Palm 680 for 7 days now. It locked up the first day...second day...third day..fourth day...fifth day...sixth day and now after a hard reset it's locked in the "target screen." What I thought would be a blessing since I'm a realtor has turned out to be a business losing nightmare. This has to be the biggest piece of junk I've ever had the misfortune to buy.

Reply to this comment

dbcache = 24 MB / dbheap = 10 MB

jfme @ 12/4/2006 8:37:27 PM # Q
Nice...
RE: dbcache = 24 MB / dbheap = 10 MB
hkklife @ 12/5/2006 9:54:25 AM # Q
I'm still glad to see Palm improving the amount of cache/heap even in this so-called "budget" device. So that leaves the camera & the battery as the only major concessions/crippled features in comparison to all other Treos.

Once Seidio gets their extended 680 battery out, this thing will stomp all over the laggy, poor voice quality 700p.

If I wasn't shackled to Verizon for several reasons I'd definitely consider a 680. I still say this one should've come out 6-12 months ago as a more timely successor to the 650 but hey, it's the best realized Treo (especially bang for the buck) to date.



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

RE: dbcache = 24 MB / dbheap = 10 MB
kidsdoc @ 12/11/2006 8:58:32 PM # Q
what does all that tech stuff mean ? Bottom line , will it make the 680 more stable and less crash prone than the 700p ?

Reply to this comment

Upgraded from 650 to 680

welzofstel @ 12/4/2006 8:36:01 PM # Q
I gotta say, I love this phone. I got a crimson unlocked 680 from Palm. I loved my Treo 650, so this purchase was purely out of curiousity more than anything. It's much lighter. Looks even better. The graphics display is much more appealing to me which I thought was just the opposite on the 650. I like that they removed the stubby attenna as well. Being a Mac user, Palm OS works perfectly for me. While Windows Mobiles may be getting MORE devices, I don't agree that any of them are better. But, then again...I'm really not much of a complainer when it comes to my gadgets. If they do what I want them to do, I'm good to go. I would have kept my 650 for another few years as it worked perfectly. Being a world traveler and performer, I stay connected no matter where I am. While they made this less expensive, I don't think they took away from any of the features. If you check the comparison chart, this phone has the same if not more features than the 650 and 700.

- Frank
RE: Upgraded from 650 to 680
buckeyetex315-2 @ 12/5/2006 12:26:35 PM # Q
Great review, Ryan. This new device almost has me convinced to converge and dump my TX. WiFi would be great though. At least it is available on the right carrier, although I would probably buy an unlocked one (yeah - Crimson is close to Scarlet - Ohio State - Go Bucks!).

Haven't had a chance to see one of the color ones in person yet. The colors seem to have a metallic sheen to them on the website. The color IS molded into the plastic and is not just an applique or coating similar to the disastrous Zire 72 blue finish, correct?

Brent

Palm Vx -----> LONG WAIT -----> Palm T|X

RE: Upgraded from 650 to 680
surfmaniac @ 12/6/2006 1:55:41 PM # Q
Yes, you're exactly right. Do yourself a favor and check it out in person, the pics don't come close to doing it justice. It's really a cool sleek little phone... it feels nice and solid and the colors are awesome...


The 680 is sweet! The battery is *awful*!
freakout @ 12/12/2006 4:19:52 AM # Q
The good:

Having spent my first full day with my delicious new Crimson 680, I'm in love all over again; ready to climb on to my roof and shout to the world my undying devotion to the sexy lil' smartphone that could. (I need to get out more.) The new form factor is gorgeous; despite sharing nearly the exact same dimensions as earlier Treos, it looks and feels much smaller than it looks. Almost like a toy! Lopping off the antenna made a huge difference, as did hiding the SD slot and the shrunken battery.

I love the new phone app, Blazer is heaps faster, phone reception is better, there's more RAM than I know what to do with, RealPlayer has been banished to the depths of Treo hell and apps like Coreplayer that used to choke my 650 and sometimes crash it now run with nary a squeak. Did I mention the lovely new form factor?

Finally, it retains all the old Treo favourites: smooth & simple one-handed navigation, the best SMS/MMS messaging app on the planet, the pretty & shiny little (and yet, paradoxically, big!) screen, excellent media integration, robust email capabilities, the oh-so-convenient silent switch and the 2.5mm headphone jack. Okay, so the headphone jack isn't a favourite. Ditch it already Palm.


The bad:

*The battery life is crap-tacular. I was expecting it to be worse than the 650, but perhaps not this much worse. My usual daily usage pattern on my 650 normally saw me getting home with 70-80% power left; with the 680 it was 35%. (This is with the screen set to about 70% brightness, Bluetooth off and Beam Receive off) If I didn't go home and went out instead (as I usually do a couple of nights a week), I'm not sure I'd be able to trust it to hold a charge.

I'm still reserving judgment for the moment. I was fiddling with a lot today - it was more interesting than doing work - so maybe I was burning it up more than I realised. And sometimes batteries need breaking in before you can get a real idea of their performance, so I'll see how it is another week or two from now before I decide if it's really that bad.

*I quite like the new phone app - it's prettier than the previous version - but they should hide the big tab buttons when you're browsing through your contacts; it kinda sucks that it can now only display 4-5 contacts on screen at once. But on the flip side, the integration of Contacts into the Phone app has made contacts searches much faster. And the method of shuffling your Favourites around - Option+Navigator - is ill-conceived. They should have kept the previous method.

*The stylus is strange. Like a little flexy toy with a plastic tip. It's much less professional-looking than the 650/700 stylii. But I like unprofessional, so it gets a tick in the end.

*TomTom 6 doesn't work on the 680, and nor does Softick Audio Gateway, although both apps are supposedly going to be updated within weeks, according to their respective support teams.

*I'm not sure if this is common to all 680s or just mine, but the red Power/End button is recessed further than the green Send/Answer button. Where the green key gives a definite little click when I press, the red one doesn't - there's practically no feedback at all and it's hard to tell you've actually pressed the button. Not sure if I just got a dud or if this is a conscious design decision to stop the power button being pressed while it's in your pocket. It's weird but I'm already used to it.


Bottom line: the 680 can confidently wear the crown previously held by the 650 as world's best smartphone. It will do anything you ask of it, then laugh at you, beat you up and show you how to do it better.

Except wifi.

Here's to the new Treo! Best. Smartphone. Yet.

And here's to Seidio's soon-to-be-booming line of extended batteries! ;)

Tim
I apologise for any and all emoticons that appear in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.
Treo 270 ---> Treo 650 ---> Crimson Treo 680

Beta version of Profiles for 680
freakout @ 12/12/2006 3:35:09 PM # Q
RE: Upgraded from 650 to 680
hkklife @ 12/12/2006 3:40:15 PM # Q
Tim;

Great review. I agree that while the formfactor isn't a huge change, it's a substantial improvement in aesthetics and in feel from both the 700 series and the 650/600 series. What are you going to do with your old 650? Sell it or keep it as a backup?

I thought the 700w/p made a nice change from the 650 just by the improved buttons and slightly curvier edges. But the ungainly antenna detracted considerably from the other improvements. Now that Palm's basically perfected the 320*320 candybar Treo formfactor with the 680 (adding a 3.5mm headphone jack would be the only logical improvement) it's time to come out with something new.

How about, for 2007 at least one of the following:

A data-centric Tablet style wi-fi + cellular device (LifeDrive tablet w/ gigs of flash?), a voice-centric flip Treo (Samsung i550 style), and a 320*480 Treo (either a flip, a slider or a keyboard-less candybar) for the T3/T5/TX diehards?


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

RE: Upgraded from 650 to 680
freakout @ 12/12/2006 7:07:00 PM # Q
I'm going to keep the 650 as a backup, I think. Back when I was trying to get my hands on a Black Tie 650 I had someone lined up to buy it, but they've since gone and bought a new Treo of their own, so I'll hang on to it now. Never know when you may need a backup phone/GPS/media player! (Although, Mum has been dropping hints all over the place she might like it for Christmas. She's really taken a shine to her Z22.)

A data-centric Tablet style wi-fi + cellular device (LifeDrive tablet w/ gigs of flash?), a voice-centric flip Treo (Samsung i550 style), and a 320*480 Treo (either a flip, a slider or a keyboard-less candybar) for the T3/T5/TX diehards?

I reckon that's exactly what Palm should be shooting for. With the 680/750 form the Treo 600-style has reached its pinnacle; now it's time for some real innovation!

If Palm only have the resources to launch 4 new models a year, that's still room enough for two new form factor devices and hardware upgrades to both the WinMob and Palm Treos. I'm very curious to see what they come up with next....

Tim
I apologise for any and all emoticons that appear in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.
Treo 270 ---> Treo 650 ---> Crimson Treo 680

680 battery life not so bad after all
freakout @ 12/14/2006 2:50:49 AM # Q
I've had much better results from my 680 battery after the rather pathetic first-charge results I got. I now return home with 60-70%.

Seems the battery meter may just have been a little screwy - I deliberately ran the battery down to zero last night, after reading the Treocentral thread on the battery issues. When it got to 0%, it kept going for another 45 minutes! :O

I then charged it back to full, and I seem to be getting a much more accurate picture of the battery life. Just needed to give it a little time...

Tim
I apologise for any and all emoticons that appear in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.
Treo 270 ---> Treo 650 ---> Crimson Treo 680

RE: Upgraded from 650 to 680
christop @ 2/7/2007 5:19:59 AM # Q
Thanks buddy,.. I'll try that. I have to agree the 680 is great as long as you can sort the battery issue. I'm on fumes by 3pm on a light call load.


Christo

Reply to this comment

Available where?

randyg @ 12/4/2006 9:43:41 PM # Q
I'm a little confused. You mention the unlocked versions are only available at Palm.com, but i was under the impression they were also available at the Palm retail stores.

RE: Available where?
surfmaniac @ 12/4/2006 10:18:15 PM # Q
They are in the stores. I went to the one here in LA and I have to say, they look cool as hell. And as I mentioned, I was with my young cousin (who's EXTREMELY style conscious) and she actually asked for one for Christmas...

who would've thunk it...

RE: Available where?
neuron @ 12/4/2006 11:09:39 PM # Q
How many cousines do you have? :)

RE: Available where?
surfmaniac @ 12/5/2006 2:51:39 PM # Q
Only one, and she's a knock out. If I can work something out w/her mother, she might be finding something nice and orange in her stocking this year... ;-)

Reply to this comment

Voice memos with handsfree?

jasla @ 12/5/2006 12:42:41 AM # Q
Does it allow to make vice memos with handsfree regardless if wired or bluetooh. I need to record voice memos when driving. Any info would be appreciated.

Thtanx

JaSla

Reply to this comment
Start a New Comment Thread Top View Full Comment Thread
Achtung! Only the first 50 comments are displayed within the article.
    Click here for the full story discussion page...

Account

Register Register | Login Log in
user:
pass: