Handspring Treo 180, 180g, 270 Coming in 2002
Handspring has posted the full information on the new Treo lines of smartphones on its website. The information that was previously available about these wasn't exactly correct. The names were off and they don't look precisely like the images that were filed with the FCC. There was also facts about them not included in the FCC filing.
The first two models of the series will be the Treo 180 and the Treo 180g. The 180 will have a built-in keyboard while the 180g will use Graffiti for text input. Both of these will have monochrome screens, cost $400 with a service contract, and be available in early 2002.
In mid-2002 there will be a new addition. The Treo 270 will have a color screen and a built-in keyboard. Handspring currently plans to charge $600 for it.
Update: Handspring has announced that the monochrome models will be available to U.S. buyers online in limited quantities during February but they won't be available in large enough quantities for retail stores until March. European customers should begin to see it in stores well before that.
Both versions of the 180 have 16 MB of RAM. They run the 33 MHz Dragonball VZ processor that is in just about all Palm OS handhelds these days and use Palm OS 3.5. They are capable of running all Palm OS applications that run under OS 3.5.
Like the Visor models, the Treo smartphones come with Date Book+, which is Handspring's enhanced version of the standard Palm Date Book.
These are not the "Visor Treo". The Treo line is separate from Handspring's Visor line. As such, they do not have Springboard slots. They also can't use Visor peripherals, like external keyboards.
They have a jog wheel, which Handspring is calling a Jog Rocker. This is the first Handspring model to feature one. The company has worked to integrate the Jog Rocker into the functioning of the Treo line as much as possible.
Neither version comes with a cradle. Instead they have HotSync cable. It is a single USB cable that splits with one strand for data and another that plugs into a wall socket for power. A cradle will be sold separately.
They use li-ion rechargeable batteries. The batteries are good for two hours of talk time and more than 60 hours on standby. The manual says the batteries can be fully charged in only an hour.
On the top is the power button, an infrared port, the antenna, a switch to turn the ringer off, and a single LED used to indicate both battery status and whether the device is in range of a transmitter.
The speaker on the Treo is inside the flip cover. The user can talk by placing the inside of the flip cover to their ear and speaking into the microphone built into the front.
It also comes with a tiny headset for those that don't like to put the handheld up to their face. This has a button on it that allows the user to answer the phone. The 180 and 180g can also be used as a speakerphone.
It has other handy functions like 3-way conference calling and Caller ID.
It is a GSM phone and there will be a 900/1900 MHz for North America and a 900/1800 MHz version for Europe and Asia. SIM cards from other phones can be plugged into them.
These devices will require only a software upgrade to be ready for GPRS. Handspring expects to have the software upgrade ready during the second quarter of next year, which is when they expect GPRS to begin to be widely available.
They have already lined up an impressive collection of wireless service providers. In the U.S., this includes Cingular and VoiceStream They also have agreements with companies in Canada and no less than eleven wireless providers in Europe.
Handspring had added an application to let the Treo models be used as mobile phones. This app is launched with the Phone Book button, which replaces the Address Book button on the front of the unit.
It has four main screens. The first is a contacts list which essentially just displays names and phone numbers. The first picture with this article shows this screen. This can be scrolled through and numbers dialed with the Jog Rocker. Tapping on an entry opens full address info.
For users with large numbers of stored phone numbers, entries can be looked up by entering the first letter of the first name then the first two letters of the last name.
The other main screens are the Dial Pad, which looks the buttons on a regular phone, Speed Dial, and Call History.
Both allow Web surfing via a new version of Handspring's Blazer. This allows up to 100 sites to be bookmarked. This list can be moved through and sites can be opened with the Jog Rocker. In fact, Handspring has designed this version of Blazer to allow the user to surf almost exclusively with the Jog Rocker.
They also come with an SMS application that allows messages to be sent to and received from GSM phone numbers and can also send messages to email addresses. The keyboard on the Treo 180 has been designed to make this as easy as possible and includes special purpose buttons like 'Send' and 'New".
There will also be a POP3 client included on CD that will allow full email functionality. This is JPMobile's One-Touch Mail. Initially, this will require the user to manually check to see if there is any email waiting. Handspring is working on a push email system in which the Treo will be able to download email automatically. This won't be available until the middle of 2002 and will only require a software upgrade to work.
As mentioned earlier, Handspring plans to introduce the Treo 270 by mid-2002. Not surprisingly for a handheld about nine months away from being released, they don't have a lot of details. However, Handspring is saying it will be offer "great" visibility both indoors and out and the device will have the same battery life as the monochrome versions.
They are committed to releasing a keyboard version but they might also make one that uses Graffiti, depending on customer demand. They will be using sales of the two versions of the 180 as their guide. At this point, many people at Handspring believe that the keyboard version will do better than the graffiti one.
Like the 180, there will be two versions of the 270, one for the U.S. and the other for Europe and Asia.
There will almost certainly be some complaint that the Treo models won't be out for holiday shopping season. Brian Jaquet, a Handspring spokesperson said that they had never planned to release these this year and that they don't think mobile phones are typical gifts because they are expensive and involve signing up for service plans.
According to Mr. Jaquet, they are planning on marketing the Treo line to both typical Palm OS users who would like to stop having to carry around a handheld and a phone and to mobile phone users who are looking to upgrade to a smartphone. They will also be marketing them to corporations.
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