Handspring Treo Launches on Monday (Updated)

Update: Some of this preliminary information turned out to be incorrect. The latest article has all the correct info.

Handspring's Treo line of smartphones will be announced on Monday, according to ZDnet. Citing "sources", it goes on to say that the mobile phones with the Palm OS won't be immediately available and will cost about $400.

In August, Handspring received approval from the FCC for not one but two new wireless handhelds capable of handling both voice and data. The Treo k180, has a built-in keyboard like the Blackberry pager and no Graffiti area. The other model, the Treo g180, relies on the traditional Graffiti for text input..

According to the information filed with the FCC, which Handspring describes as "preliminary", they have 160 by 160 monochrome screens and are the first from Handspring to have a built-in jog wheel. Neither has a Springboard or any other kind of expansion slot.

Later, the FCC withdrew approval for these devices but it is suspected that this was done at Handspring's request in order to remove all the details about them from the FCC's website.

Thanks to Nic Hughes for the tip. -Ed

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A controlled trial of keyboard preferences

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 9:30:56 AM #
Which do you think will sell better, the keyboard version or the grafitti version???

RE: A controlled trial of keyboard preferences
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 9:37:50 AM #
thumb typing is marginally faster than grafitti and doesn't require you to learn anything (except know how to type in the first place). I think if this gets adopted by pda newbies, the keyboard version appeal to them. the grafitti version will appeal to current palm users who have decent grafitti skills. Which will be more popular? who is actually going to buy this thing? newbies or current users?

RE: A controlled trial of keyboard preferences
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 10:00:34 AM #
I think Handspring is going to market these to big comapanies as a way to keep their mobile employees in touch. With both voice and email and the ease of creating custom apps to tie in to their backend systems, these could do pretty good.

This means lots of newbies. Execs who still have trouble using Outlook. I don't think trying to teach them Grafitti will work too good so the keyboard will be the way to go.

Have to admit, I'm tempted by the keyboard. I've been using Grafitti for years and I still can't get through a long word without a screw up. My regular hand-writing is unreadable too. If a human can't read what I write, the computer barely has a chance. Keyboards are also faster.

RE: A controlled trial of keyboard preferences
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 10:29:41 AM #
I guess I have never tried one but I am surprised that you guys say the thumb keyboards are faster.

I will have to try one out.

My grafiti has improved a lot since I got 'teal echo' I use it a few days out of the month and it helps to get rid of sloppy tendencys that hurt recognition.

RE: A controlled trial of keyboard preferences
sub_tex @ 10/12/2001 10:41:58 AM #
I think having both would be best.

take a look at the first pda on this page - http://www.pdabuzz.com/Features/CES2001/index3.html

the Sharp Zaurus MI-E1 has the thumb keypad in a hidden area. Just yank down the bottom half of the PDA and you got a keyboard. If not, it slides up under the screen and you can use your pda as usual.

Great great feature in my book.

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 5:26:50 PM #
I wish Handspring every success with this new product but, personally, I can't help thinking that this is a retrograde step. Graffiti is arguably Geoff Hawkins' most valuable contribution; it is one of the foundations for his success (both at Palm and now at Handspring). I don't understand why they now want to go to a keyboard with all the disadvantages that entails.


I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 9:39:31 AM #
What network are these going to run on? GPRS, I hope.

mtg101 @ 10/12/2001 9:56:46 AM #
From what I remember of the previous news articles these will be running on GSM. Plus if it was GPRS you'd see phrases like 'always-on' and 'Blackberry' being mentioned.

However, at least they're GSM, and not some proprietory standard only used in one or two countries, ie CDMA.


Diga ao Falante pelos Mortos

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 9:58:26 AM #
Before the FCC pulled the info, it said these use GSM 900 MHz and PCS 1.9 GHz.

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 12:41:33 PM #
yeah, except CDMA is superior to GSM/TDMA

I thought these were Triband GSM models?
Token @ 10/12/2001 1:22:02 PM #
As in, "they would work internationally". I don't recall GPRS being a feature that was listed in the FCC article. If an announcment is being made Monday, I guess the FCC will relist the approval notice and we can get more details again then.

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 3:55:47 PM #
"yeah, except CDMA is superior to GSM/TDMA"

Beta was also superior to VHS...

Sorry. Couldn't resist. Carryon.

here we go again

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 9:41:46 AM #
Am I the only only one who's a little concerned that Handspring may be making a bit of a blunder, similar mto the m500 fiasco, by releasing a high-end handheld with a monochrome screen in the midst of a slowing economy and not have it immediately available? I realize that handspring doesn't have any other wireless handhelds, but if people decide to wait for this to become available rather than buy a different Handspring model, chances are the Edge will do even worse than before (if possible) and the two new handhelds will drop in sales as well.
Just a thought.


RE: here we go again
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 9:55:12 AM #
Yeah, $400 for a monochrome device is starting to seem a bit steep these days. Also seems like no expansion option is a step back too, since pretty much every device released these days at least has some option.

PDA Manufacturers Are Scamming Consumers
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 9:55:14 AM #
There is absolutely no reason for not including a color screen in any "high" end PDA\Smartphone. This is strictly a Marketing move. They will launch the color later, in hopes of selling more units.

I feel this is a huge mistake! They are going to market themselves into bankruptcy. Some manufacturer is going to wake up and smell the opportunity! Handspring has already missed the boat, and is about to miss it again. The boats not coming back, and its gonna be sink or swim for them.

RE: here we go again
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 10:15:34 AM #
Sounds like what you want is the I300. The Treo will be for the more price conscious (i.e. cheap). I like it that I can get either a $500 color model or a $400 mono. Choice is good. There is no *best* answer that suits everyone.

RE: here we go again BW screen
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 10:58:46 AM #
It think HS are aiming more for users wanting to upgrade their mobiles, competing head to head with the new Nokia all in one phone, games, browser gadget announced just recently rather than us lot who are looking for a step up the PDA ladder. In that case the mono screen doesn't really hinder much as how many cell phones have colour screens at the mo? How many cell phones have expandable memory? How many phones let you (not wap) browse the web, play more than the installed games, sync your diary, contacts, install any application that is compatible.
If you've some across one, I'd love to know.

RE: here we go again
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/13/2001 12:25:14 AM #
Anybody ever stop to think that posting such as this may be killing the market that it is centered on? If we keep announcing new handhelds before they are actually out, and then blame palm or handspring for slipping information and shooting themselves in the foot, its kind of ironic. Back in august there was news about this handheld, but guess what handspring had it removed from the FCC page so that people would not know about it. You can't say they aren't trying to keep themselves alive. Postings like this and spreading rumors is only hurting their sales. If we're all dreaming of a high-end high-resolution color device that's thin and wireless, we're never going to get it if nobody is buying what the company has to offer now.

RE: here we go again
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/13/2001 7:40:00 PM #
my startac timeport puts off enough radiation... I wouldnt want to hold a color screen up to my head for long.. even if the screen went off after a few seconds...

RE: here we go again
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/15/2001 5:21:29 AM #
On the other hand, the Treo seems to be aimed squarely at the business user. There are not that many apps for commercial use which need (or run better with) a colour screen - none that I can thing of anyway. So why pay for something you don't need?

CLIE users may now fire when ready ...

Integrated phone/PDA???

ganoe @ 10/12/2001 9:58:26 AM #
Could someone explain the desire to have a phone integrated with a PDA? Personally I'd rather have them separate, assuming Bluetooth or something like that to have them wirelessly connected. As someone who does user interface design, I'd just like to understand the needs and reasoning of someone who likes this approach. Just please don't turn this request into an argument about it.

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 10:07:15 AM #
Why would you want a phone on your PDA? The single piece of hardware is the only attractive feature of it. I certainly don't want MY face print on my Palm screen.

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 10:09:43 AM #
Take a look at the picture. The Treo has a clear window in it's cover and can be used as a phone with the cover closed. Your face doesn't ever have to touch the screen.

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 10:20:13 AM #
I can understand this question from someone in the U.S.. However, here in Europe wireless coverage is much, much better than in the U.S. Almost everyone and their grandmother has a handy, and these are rapidly moving to some minimum data manipulation / transmission. Heck, you can use your handy at many snack machines. Conversely, very few people seem to use handheld computers. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if in this market phones and handhelds converged because simple PIM functions dovetail quite nicely with "telephone" functions.

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 10:26:52 AM #
I have both a phone and a PDA and a pager and hate it. Since I can't sync my phone with the PDA, I have some numbers and info on my phone and some on my PDA. Since I have two devices, rarely do I have both with me except when I am at work, so I am always lacking some information. The Samsumg I300 for example (I am not sure if the Treo will do paging)will allow me to combine 3 seperate pieces of vital equipment (for me anyway) into a single unit - cellphone, PDA, pager. Now instead of having to have a "Bat Belt" on to carry my devices, I can reduce down to a single device.

In addition if I need connectivity to the internet, or want/need to download email, check flight times, check for flight delays, make a car rental, hotel rental, etc, I have to carry yet ANOTHER piece of equipment with me - the cable to connect the cell phone with the PDA.

Therefore convergence allows me to combine 3 seperate devices and a cable into a single integrated unit that provides more functionailty and convienience than 4 seperate pieces of hardware, considering it is very rare that I will have all 4 items with me when I need them most.

These types of units will be very useful for some folks and of no value to others - it is nice that we will actually have a choice to choose a product that is most suitable for our individual needs.

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 10:34:24 AM #
If we started using snack machines like that in the US, we'd get it for free for a few years and then both the vendor and the credit company would smack a $1 or more service charge on both sides of the transaction.

Anyhow, yes, if you just wanted simple PIM functionality, you could do it all in a phone. You don't need a device like the Treo for that kind of functionality though.

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 10:34:39 AM #
I think the winning phone/pda combo will involve bluetooth and a independent headset or a plug in headset. (I have seen mockups of this that I would use.)

Holding a PDA to my head is not going to work. For a PDA to work well it has to be wide, but for a phone to work well it has to be narrow. Obviously mutualy exlusive needs so someone needs to do something different like the PDA phone you can't hold to your head to use, but have to use a bluetooth headset or a hands free earbud and mic.

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
Moosecat @ 10/12/2001 10:39:23 AM #
I, for one, am really looking forward to the day when I can free up one pocket by combining my PDA and phone. When I'm fully loaded up (PDA, phone, and (for me) cigs), my pockets bulge in an unflattering way. And there's no way I'm buying those weird Dockers.

I don't think this device is on my upgrade path -- no color, maybe too big. But give it a year...

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 10:39:29 AM #
> The Treo has a clear window in it's cover and can be used as a phone with the cover closed.

How do you use the phone (or the PDA) with the cover closed? Do you open it to dial it and then close it to talk on it? That would be kind of odd. Are some of the buttons exposed even with the cover closed?

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 10:41:04 AM #
Don't know about the Treo, but the I300 has a built-in speaker phone so you can use the device while talking on the phone, and it also allows the use of a headset so you can use the phone while using the device.

The only thing that Blootooth would allow is the removeal of the little wire from the headset to the unit. For me, I can deal with a wire if the unit will be $100 or so cheaper.

Plus I don't use my phone enough to even bother carrying around the headset.

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
Ed @ 10/12/2001 10:45:16 AM #
Based on the FCC info, you can use the jog wheel to pick a number from your speed dial list with the cover closed. To manually dial a number, you'll have to open the cover.

News Editor
RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
marig @ 10/12/2001 11:09:02 AM #
For me, there seems to be some basic usability issues with combining a phone and PDA in a single package. However, I have to admit there are some problems with keeping them separate as well, mentioned in this thread and others like this one in the past.

While a combined unit allows me to carry fewer devices, and do away with address book synchronization / duplication issues, which are both good things, think about the following situation:

You receive a call from your office on your combined phone/PDA. Tomorrow's meeting has been moved to a different day and different time. In order to note this on your PDA calendar, you need to take away the phone/PDA away from your ear, and access your datebook. Your choices to do this are to ask the other person to "hang on" while you do this, because you can't continue the conversation without the phone to your ear, and then continue the conversation, or try to remember the changes in your head, and make them after your phone call is complete. Either choice is not optimal. The same scenario is true if someone calls you to get an address or phone number from you, or you need to refer to any information on your PDA. Using the PDA part of your phone while you are using the phone just seems awkward. Maybe this doesn't happen alot to most people, but it seems like it would be a pain when it did.

I know that you can avoid this problem with a hands-free headset for your mobile phone/PDA, but that has drawbacks, too. The act of holding a phone to your ear and speaking is a universally recognized signal to others around you that you are having a conversation with someone and that you cannot pay attention to them right now. Using a hands-free headset removes this signal, and makes people around you wonder

a) Are you talking to yourself?
b) Are you talking to me?

I saw a first hand example of this in a checkout line at a store. The person in front of me made some remark about something, to which the cashier replied, in a somewhat confused tone of voice. The person then explained that they weren't talking to the cashier, they were just talking on the phone. The cashier didn't see the earbud, wire or phone tucked underneath the person's jacket. This is the kind of thing that I think makes people not want to use headsets with their phones. It also seems like the headsets haven't reached a certain "critical mass" of social acceptance. I think a lot of people consider it to be "weird" to go out in public with a headset on.

A speakerphone in the handset like the Samsung device is a little better, but then your conversation becomes public to those around you. Besides, most speakerphones never seem to give very good sound quality.

Having the devices separate removes these problems, but introduces others: two address books that have to be synchronized, difficulty in holding and using two devices simultaneously, having two devices to carry around instead of one.

What's the perfect solution to all this? I don't think there is one yet. I think people should just be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each approach, and pick the solution that works best for the situations they find themselves in most of the time.

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
james_sorenson @ 10/12/2001 11:20:29 AM #
Allow me, a current VisorPhone user, to answer this question. Mainly, it's portability and convenience. I like to be able to clip my Visor to my belt. Having both a Visor and a cell-phone on my belt makes me look like Batman. Having the address book work directly with the cellphone is a MAJOR plus. Wireless email on a cell-phone is pretty rough to read on that tiny screen. The Visorphone (and Treo) gives you a big, readable screen and easier text entry for email, SMS and web-browsing. But, how easy is it to hold your cell-phone and PDA IR ports together while on the move? It's just really nice to "have it all" in one package. Blue-tooth technology will at least make it a bit easier to connect a PDA and cell-phone on the move (Palm in hand, cell-phone on belt...yet connected), but it's not here yet.

If you want to browse the web, check email, and write SMS messages, it's just a lot easier to have it in one package. If you never have the need to check email or news-sites while away from the desk, and you only call a few people on your cell-phone, then you may not have a great need for it. But, believe me, I have discovered all kinds of situations where the Visorphone has mad my day (Mapquest directions, quick emails, read the news while sitting in the train, etc).

James Sorenson

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 1:12:48 PM #
Hmmm. Integrated, yes. Holding the PDA to your head, no. Here's what I would design:

1) PDA/Phone device much like the Treo--a great idea. Slimmer, still.

2) Take it one step further; a la Ericsson's (not a fan--Nokia!) Bluetooth wireless headset (but slimmer, and more invisible), with voice-activation and speech recognition for phone lookups (a la Nokia digital). Slim, foldable, clips into stylus slot (?). As a backup, you can still talk into your PDA.

3) Take it another step, cradle or PDA can charge headset (tricky, smart industrial design required here.)

There you go. Still, two devices, but better designed, IMHO. Just ideas.

Sidebar: I would get rid of those damn flaps/cases, and integrate some kind of roll-top door for the screen or totally scratch resistant screen--that's just me.

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 3:05:38 PM #
This seems rather uncompelling to me. For someone outside of the US or who loves the idea of the QWERTY keypad, this could be a bit more intriguing. But, for me, for the same (or less) money, I'd prefer the Kyocera 6035 thanks to its hard keypad and the choice between Sprint and Verizon coverage, which is much better than GSM coverage in the US.

Converging a PDA and a phone offers lots of benefits which have already been mentioned, which is why I want one. I just think that this offering is too little, too late as it compares unfavorably (at this price) to the Kyocera/Samsung offerings and even compares unfavorably to Handspring's own VisorPhone option. If it was $400 and color, then maybe. But, even then, except for the jog wheel (which they really should implement in all their handhelds), why not just get a Prism at $300 with the free VisorPhone?

Maybe I'm missing something. Is this signifantly smaller/lighter than a mono Visor with VisorPhone?


-Sounds like you don't travel much.
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 6:24:54 PM #
I can't wait to get my hands on a cell/pda hybrid. I am so sick of having to carry them both around.

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 11:58:50 PM #
"The act of holding a phone to your ear and speaking is a universally recognized signal to others around you that you are having a conversation with someone and that you cannot pay attention to them right now. Using a hands-free headset removes this signal"

Not that this has much to do with anything, but I work in a retail store at a mall, and even THAT signal isn't even recognized by many nowadays. I'll be on the phone (very obvious about it), and I'll have customers come right up to me and ask a question to my face, with no concern over the fact that I'm speaking with ANOTHER customer over the phone. Then, when I don't reply to the first customer, that person gets irritated with me an starts up an attitude. People suck sometimes.

Anyway, I actually just ordered a VisorPhone. You see, I was paying for my cell bill AND a wireless access bill (Minstrel S with YadaYada service). I kept my modem with me most all the time, but hardly used my cell phone, which lead me to leave it at home or elsewhere too many times. The VP lets me have both my modem AND my cell together, and I can also keep them on one (much cheaper) contract. So, quite simply, I prefer the convenience.

RE: Integrated phone/PDA???
ganoe @ 10/13/2001 9:42:52 AM #
Thanks for all the responses. As I expected, there were quite a few perspectives on this. Some people had some neat ideas too. Seems to me what I would want (after listening to the other posts) is something like this Treo, but with built-in Bluetooth and a Bluetooth headset to go with it. Still, it looks like lots of demand for other solutions as well, so quite possibly no particular one will win out.

no go without graffiti/springboard

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 11:33:23 AM #
I don't see how Handspring plans to stay competitive, without a springboard they're loosing thier "originality". And without graffiti, much of the 3rd party software out there will be incompatable (more than any other palm release). BTW, don't tell me, the treo's are going to have the same OS since Handsprings inception. My opinion, palm/sony'll squash them...

RE: no go without graffiti/springboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/12/2001 12:15:41 PM #
Why would someone need a Springboard slot on a cell phone??? With 16 MB onboard memory who needs a springboard slot? I couldn't imagine what the damn thing would look like with a springboard slot.

Sony is Handspring's biggest competitor IMO..Palm is behind the curve. The only thing holding them up is brand recognition.

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