Color Treo 270 Now Available

Handspring has just released the Treo 270, the color version of its smartphone. Aside from its 12-bit color screen, the 270 is quite similar to the Treo 180. It includes a built-in keyboard and 16 MB of memory. This isn't the CDMA version of the Treo expected before the end of June; it uses GSM wireless networks. It costs $500 with a service contract, which is $100 less than Handspring originally said it would cost.

The Screen
The screen has 12-bit color, rather than 16-bit as on most other color Palm OS handhelds. This means it can display over 4,000 colors. It is the same screen as on the just-announced Treo 90. Like the rest of the Treo line, this screen is slightly smaller than the display on most Palm OS handhelds, though it uses the standard 160 by 160 pixels.

The screen is CSTN, or Color Super-Twist Nematic. Though a passive matrix type of screen, the newest CSTN displays have good refresh rates, wide viewing angles, and bright colors that compare well with TFT displays. And they cost about half what TFT screens do.

According to Handspring, the Treo 270's screen was picked because it is usable outdoors, though the colors aren't as good as they are inside.

Because it has a keyboard, it doesn't have a Graffiti area. All the functions normally performed with Graffiti have keyboard equivalents on this model.

The Hardware
The Treo 270 is 4.3 by 2.7 by 0.7 and it weighs 5.5 ounces. It has a non-removable flip cover with a clear window in it that allows the screen to be seen without having to open the cover.

It uses the same keyboard as on the Treo 180. To make it easier to use in the dark, the screen's backlight also shines behind the keyboard.

One of the major changes from the 180 series is Handspring has decided not to make a version without a keyboard, so there won't be a Treo 270g.

It has a jog wheel, which Handspring calls a Rocker Switch, that Handspring has worked to integrate into the functioning of the Treo line as much as possible.

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.

It doesn't come with a cradle. Instead it has a HotSync cable. A travel A/C charger is also included. A cradle will be available separately.

The Battery
The 270 uses a li-ion rechargeable battery. According to Handspring, when using the wireless functions, it will last about 3 hours of talk time or 150 hours of standby time. When used like a regular handheld with the mobile phone functions turned off, the battery provides about 1 week of normal use. This is actually better battery performance than the Treo 180 provides.

Like the other members of the Treo line, the 270 has 16 MB of RAM. It runs Palm OS 3.5 on the 33 MHz Dragonball VZ processor. It doesn't use flash ROM so its operating system can't be upgraded but Handspring has found ways to work around this for applying patches.

It comes with the latest version of Handspring's Web Browser, Blazer 2.1. It also comes with an SMS app.

In addition to all the standard Palm OS applications, it includes, Date Book+, which is Handspring's enhanced version of the standard Date Book.

The Phone
Like the Treo 180 and 180g, it is a GSM phone. There will be a 900/1900 MHz version for North America and a 900/1800 MHz version for Europe and Asia.

It does not yet support GPRS, though Handspring says an update is on the way which will allow it to use this much faster wireless standard. Even without this upgrade, it can still handle data, just at a slower speed.

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 270 can also be used as a speakerphone.

It comes with an application that acts as a telephone dialer with large buttons. There is also a phone keypad superimposed on the QWERTY keyboard.

It has other handy functions like 3-way conference calling and Caller ID.

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Treo 90 also announced.

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/27/2002 9:52:59 PM #
The 90 was also announced, and will have 16mb, a removable flip lid, a keyboard, OS 4.1H, and a FREE COPY OF WORDSMITH for $299...this will blow the m130 out of the water!
RE: Treo 90 also announced.
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/27/2002 10:31:24 PM #
As a long time Handspring user (Sep 1999) I am very dissapointed with the Treo 90 and 270. The 90 does not have a jog dial or the ability to use SD IO cards (no bluetooth). The 270 does not have the GPRS function enabled. Why not! Voicestream has rolled out its nationwide data service (Istream), ATT is getting thiers stood up and Cingular is not far behind. What is Handspring waiting for?

One more rant. I have 2 Voicestream stores within 5 miles of my house but when I enter my zip code on the Handspring site it says that Voicestream does not offer any plans in my area (I know this is wrong). The only way to order the Treo is without service! The cost is $699. That is ridiculous for a handheld that cannot take advantage of high speed data. The new XDA (Pocket PC phone) that Voicestream is going to release in June will only cost around $499 and be avialable to anyone off of thier web site. It is a color pocketpc (looks a lot like the IPAQ) with GPRS enabled.

I think Handspring has made a mistake with the Treo (high prices, limited expansion options).

RE: Treo 90 also announced.
fkclo @ 5/27/2002 11:12:03 PM #
Obviously the most common, out of less than a handful SD I/O device we are talking is the bluetooth SD which cost far more than a typical Palm user would come to expect at this time. For most Palm users, I guess bluetooth or not is not a decision point, at least at this stage of market maturity.

Treo 90 has a 4oz, compact colour package with storage expansion capability. The fine tuned price point reflects Handspring marketing strategy for the Treo 90.

xda pocket pc wipes HAH!
drw @ 5/27/2002 11:38:56 PM #
Yea, Verizon just came out with the Thera pocket pc phone. I has a whole 8 hours of standby while my Kyocera 6035 has 180 hours of digital standby. The phone book in the Thera is not the address book. (BAD) If you use the Thera like a regular phone the antenna is pointed downwards. (HUH?)

So don't go talking about the IPAQ looking XDA till you see how much standby time the batter gives. If less than 24 hours, it's useless.

David in Pflugerville, TX

RE: Treo 90 also announced.
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/28/2002 1:12:55 AM #
Thera (Genio 550) was not desing for phone, it doesn't even use the Pocketpc phone edition.
RE: Treo 90 also announced.
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/28/2002 9:12:01 AM #
Actually the XDA has gotten very good reviews. It has a better battery than the THERA and allows web browsing in full screen. Different strokes for different folks. If the phone part is more important than the PDA part then the TREO is the best choice, if the PDA part is more important than the phone then something like the XDA would be better. My biggest gripe with the TREO is the cost and the data potential (with software upgrade it will support speeds up to 28.8K, XDA on Voicestream will support up to 56K).


I.M. Anonymous @ 5/27/2002 9:55:16 PM #
Hey Ed,

I believe it is Qwerty, not Qwert. :)


RE: Typo
Admin @ 5/27/2002 10:01:04 PM #
thanks Mario, I fixed it.

RE: Typo
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/27/2002 10:16:20 PM #
No problem. Thanks Ryan!


RE: Typo
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/30/2002 2:06:47 AM #
but qwerty is short for qwertyuiop[]


cykalan @ 5/27/2002 10:05:53 PM #
At first i thought that was a typo....but it turns out that wasn't a typo....

well....12-bit...that's more than enough for daily use.....but just feeling a bit strange.....)

don't know if that would have any compatability problem...?

Read your manuals before you ask!!

Handspring's Toast
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/27/2002 10:18:33 PM #
OK, first let me say, were this not a $800 device ($500 with service contract) the issue of 12bit color would not be so big a deal. In fact, I think the Treo 90 is a pretty interesting device because it is only $299. But being that it is that expensive I think 12bit color is going to come back to bite them, HARD!

Handspring just can't seem to do anything right these days (on that note, whats with releasing your product on a holiday, pretty stupid).

RE: 12-bit
terrysalmi @ 5/27/2002 10:23:51 PM #
A simple reminder: This is a Palm OS device with a 160x160 screen. Why do you need 12-bit? If you want pictures on the device, get a hi-res device. If you are just playing bejeweled (or any other game out there), 12-bit will be just fine. Who displays over 4,000 colors on their screen at the same time anyway?!

I think the 12-bit screen was a good, cost-cutting move. This handheld definitely beats out the m130 overall.

RE: 12-bit
terrysalmi @ 5/27/2002 10:25:47 PM #
Edit on the above post - was supposed to say 'why do you need 16-bit!?'


RE: 12-bit
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/27/2002 10:28:24 PM #
I notice still not cradle...bad, bad handspring!
RE: 12-bit
cykalan @ 5/27/2002 10:31:39 PM #
the point is all standard Palm OS apps would only have 8-bit and 16-bit bitmaps in the apps.....i am wondering what's the 12-bit (i.e. the extra 4-bit) is for.......

unless they come up with self-developed 12-bit code again, just like last time when they do with 16-bit....)

Read your manuals before you ask!!

RE: 12-bit
cykalan @ 5/27/2002 10:33:53 PM #
oops. early end for last message.

but still, most apps won't be able to use that.........

Read your manuals before you ask!!

RE: 12-bit
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/27/2002 11:03:09 PM #
I'm going to guess that Handspring is not going to do something silly like expecting developers to create separate 12-bit bitmaps. I think it's more likely that they'll let applications use 16-bit bitmaps and have the system convert them at runtime, which shouldn't be much trouble.
RE: 12-bit
fkclo @ 5/27/2002 11:04:57 PM #
I tend to agree 12bit may be inferior when it comes to photo viewing, but most Treo 270 users will use the device more as a tool than a game pad or photo display. To this end, I couldn't see any real difference running Datebk, ActionNames, Bonsai, Tealphones, 321Contact, DayNotez, WorldMate, Blazer or the upcoming HandBase 3.0 on a 12bit display. Can any one enlighten me ?

RE: 12-bit
cykalan @ 5/28/2002 12:14:59 AM #'s possible that it is capable to display 16-bit colours but at any single time frame, only 12-bit colours can be displayed.......hp has also play with this earlier with PPC......

out of 25600 pixels, 4096 number of colours should be fairly enough....right..?

Read your manuals before you ask!!

RE: 12-bit
palm_pilot_guy @ 5/28/2002 4:01:07 PM #
if you say that 12-bits o' colour is enough, ask yourselves, how many of us have a game on our palm?

if a student teaches teachers, do they become students?
RE: 12-bit
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/30/2002 2:08:16 AM #
compare the 12 bit color on the treo with the 256 colors on the samsung SPH-M330,aid,86803,00.asp

Why the differences?

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/27/2002 11:15:45 PM #
Zoinks. I keep wanting to love the Treo, and Handspring keeps making it hard.

Why are there such pronounced omissions in the Treo 270 as compared to the Treo 90, announced on the same day? Why does the high-end 270, a $500+ device, include an older version of Palm OS, no expansion slot, no "Contacts," and no WordSmith, all features found in the "entry-level" 90?

Both of the Treo releases have seemed like products in transition. The first two Treos were black and white, with GSM but without GPRS, which makes them pretty useless as email devices (relative to the always-on blackberry). These Treos add color but not GPRS, and they have weird differences between them. Should we assume that an upcoming release will even out the featureset between these devices? Why would I spend $500 on a 270 now if the 90 is indicating that Handspring will finally upgrade the OS and will move to a standard expansion format?

What I want from Handspring is the same thing I've always wanted: a "power user" model that has everything a geek like me would ask for. In the Treo line, looking over these releases, that wishlist would be: PalmOS 4.x, Flash ROM for OS upgrades, SD slot, color screen, always-on email (GPRS or Sprint or whatever), full software complement, jog dial, phone, wireless net. I'd pay as much as the 270 or even somewhat more to get a device like this.

A lot of the features I list above are _not_ needed for the average user, and I think Handspring is right to leave them out of lower-end models (for instance, flash ROM). For me, though, Handspring devices feel like bad commitments without them. And I'm exactly the kind of person who pushes recommendations out to tens or even more than a hundred other people, and with a "power user" device in my hand I'd be a great Handspring salesman. Looking at these releases, though, all I want to do is stick with my Palm Vx -- on which I've upgraded the OS several times, with great results -- and wait for the dust to settle.

I really want to like the Treo. I want to buy one. Please, Handspring, hire a product manager and make it possible for me to do so!

RE: Why the differences?
drw @ 5/27/2002 11:59:26 PM #
Excellent points you make. Unless someone really wants to throw away $500 bucks, the prudent should wait till the new kyocera clamshell smartphone and the samsung 330 smartphone come out. By that time, there might be a new treo as well.

The pocketpc phones are coming with critical fault of low standby battery life. When I pick my smartphone out of the cradle in the morning and head for work, the last thing I want to worry about is that the battery might go dead before I set it back in the cradle in the evening.

I've used Blazer 2.0 at 14.4. It's soooooooooooo sloooooooooooowwwwwwww. They better make 2.5->3G a priority.

David in Pflugerville, TX

RE: Why the differences?
cykalan @ 5/28/2002 1:40:33 AM #
no OS4 could be simply explained by the fact that there is no need for it - there are no expansion slot for the treo 270 while the only major (not even major actually) enhancement from OS3.5 to OS4 is vfs support.

they've siad that GPRS would be available by installing pathces at a later time and i don't found that as a problem.

but no expansion slot is really a big problem. i would prefer a slightly larger treo over a treo w/o SD slot......the programs nowadays are getting larger and larger and the number of apps are getting more and more. w/o SD slot, applications such as maps, etc.. would not be possible and that would really make your palm pretty useless.

well i have no idea what handspring is thinking of.

Read your manuals before you ask!!

RE: Why the differences?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/28/2002 2:14:43 AM #
Lack of SD slot: It is a pity that an SD slot is not offered.

Lack of Palm OS 4.1: Why do you need this? Exactly what is in 4.1 that isn't in 3.5? VFS access, there's no slot anyway (presumably, 4.1 was included in the Treo 90 precisely because there was a slot) I can't think of any other compelling reason. Compatibility isn't a problem.

Flash ROM for OS upgrades: Even given 4.1, there aren't going to be any more OS upgrades. (OS 5 won't work on this.)

Color screen: Got it.

Always-on e-mail: Treo Mail is close (although "close" might not be good enough) GPRS is imminent, although could be vaporware.

Full software complement: Go out and buy it yourself, if you're a "power user" then the lack of bundled software shouldn't be a problem.

Jog dial: Got it.

Phone: Got it.

Wireless net: Got it.

Finally, for $700, I seriously wouldn't want anything that would make it more expensive than it already is...

RE: Why the differences?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/28/2002 10:18:48 AM #
Palm OS 4.x: I had thought, though I may be wrong, that the new Palm Desktop features required 4.x. Even if that isn't the case, the point of flash ROM for a "power users" model is that power users will want whatever new features are availabe, and not being able to get new features in the future seems unnecessarily limiting. (Another poster makes a good point about the utility of Jack Flash...)

Bundled apps: Sure, I can download apps. The point, though, is that Treo 90 buyers are getting more features for less money. It's not fatal, it just looks bad.

GPRS: My point about this is that the real functionality of the Treo isn't realized until GPRS is available. As a result there's no compelling reason to buy _now_ -- it makes more sense to wait and see. I think Handspring should release a Treo that looks from any analysis to be the device to have now and for the immediate future -- not just a device that will be pretty cool six or nine months from now. They should be orchestrating their releases to make me want to buy one right now, and so far at least (with GPRS needing an upgrade and no color on the first models, then the omissions I listed at the head of this thread for today's announcement) they've failed to do that.

RE: Why the differences?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/28/2002 8:08:10 PM #
Palm OS 4.x: What new features in Palm Desktop? I use it quite well with my old Visor... As to new features, I seriously doubt there will be any. I don't want Palm working on OS 4.2 when they could be working on 5. JackFlash is quite useful, but the original post specifically cited flash memory for OS upgrades :-)

GPRS: The only issue is whether you believe Handspring will support GPRS or not. I believe they will... therefore I'd rather have a Treo now and GPRS later than both a Treo and GPRS later.

Case Material

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/28/2002 5:31:02 AM #
Ed's story on the 90 states that the case is plastic.

What is the case material of the 270?

RE: Case Material
fkclo @ 5/28/2002 8:27:59 AM #
The Treo 270 case is plastic too. The colour is different though. Treo 270 is metallic silver.

Just give me...

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/28/2002 6:06:42 AM #
PalmOS PDA with:
320p x 12bit colour screen
GPRS connectivity (maybe upgradable to 3G)
No stupid flip cover.
Hmm... that's about it.
RE: Just give me...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/28/2002 2:36:33 PM #

And Grafitti !!

And built-in Bluetooth, so I can use one of the very small Bluetooth headsets ...

Maybe Palm is listening

RE: Just give me...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/29/2002 4:31:00 AM #
Sony owns the 320x API so you WON'T see a 320x device by anyone other than Sony until OS5 comes out. If Palm or Handspring writes their own 320x API, you probably will encounter compatibility problems (very likely on my Pro-Fatal Alert Clie).
RE: Just give me...
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/1/2002 6:27:04 PM #
The flip cover is great. I want to carry this thing around in my pocket without damaging the screen, but I DO want to be able to pick it up in an instant, which won't go with a seperate case.

No graffiti!

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/28/2002 7:10:40 AM #
Why no Grafitti? I think most people coming from a Palm OS background (instead of a Phone+other PDA) would love to just be able to use graffiti.
Big bummer, but for the rest it's ok (i don't need SD and I'm okay with 12-bit colour).

The Treo 90 is nice too by the way.

RE: No graffiti!
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/28/2002 2:17:08 PM #
Grafitti sucks. I know SOME people write in uppercase, but the majority write in print, or cursize.
RE: No graffiti!
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/29/2002 12:21:42 PM #
"Grafitti sucks...."

Humm, it seems to me just to be a personal decision. I don't know that it "sucks".

I for one prefer Grafitti, and was dissapointed when the released version of the Treo only had the thumbboard.

Pre-release photos of the units showed both Grafitti and Thumbboard versions.

RE: No graffiti!
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/29/2002 7:53:18 PM #
I used to like graffiti until I used the thumb board on a treo 180. I was frustrated at first mostly because it was different and I didn't always know how to get where I wanted without the stylus. Now... I would never go back to a graffiti device. HS is ahead of the curve, the masses have spoken and keyboard is the future. People probably hated the typewriter over the pen at first.
RE: No graffiti!
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/30/2002 1:54:00 AM #
my guess is that Xerox may have something to do with it
RE: No graffiti!
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/31/2002 4:19:59 AM #
it's funny because Jeff Hawkins came up with grafitti and now they are dumping it. Same with the springboard slot
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