Palm Treo 800w Review

Introduction and Design
This is a CDMA phone offered with Sprint.

Hoping to continue the success Palm found with the Centro, the Treo 800w is one of the most full-featured smartphones on the market. Running Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, the 800w features the latest in high speed communication with EVDO Rev. A and Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as Bluetooth and GPS. It has slimmed down considerably from previous Treos, but retains a good sized full QWERTY keyboard. It features 256MB of memory, and has microSDHC expansion. The 800w is available on Sprint, and we expect to see it land on Verizon in 2-3 months.

Included in the box you’ll find:

  • Lithium ion battery
  • AC adapter
  • USB sync cable
  • Stereo headphones
  • User guide and software CD


While not as small as the diminutive Centro, the 800w is notably smaller than its Treo 750 predecessor. It is both thinner and narrower, giving the phone a good feel in your hand while not sacrificing functionality. It is coated in a blue soft touch paint, similar to the Sprint 755p but with more gray in it.

You can compare Palm Treo 800w to many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Aimed squarely at business users, the 800w strikes a good balance between size and usability. The QWERTY keyboard is reminiscent of previous Treos, much larger than the one found on the Centro and constructed of hard plastic keys. The phone’s narrowness means the keypad is slightly more cramped, and we wish there was a bit more travel to the keys, but overall it is pretty good. The 800w has two soft keys below the screen, as well as a navigation cluster with large Send and End keys on the ends. To the right of the Send key is a Windows key situated above a Calendar key, and to the left of the End key is an OK key above Email. The middle of the cluster is the five way directional pad. The keyboard keys are blue like the phone, except the keys that double as numbers which are white. The cluster keys are silver, which contrasts nicely with the blue.

Perched on the top half of the phone is a large, 320x320 pixel display. Despite only being 65k colors, the display is crisp and looks very good. It is bright enough to use in direct sunlight, but does wash out to an extent. As a WM Professional device the display is touch-based, and the user can operate the device independent of the keyboard.

Chrome trim runs along the outer edge of the phone, and integrated into this are the side buttons. On the left is a volume rocker and multi-function button, both situated near the top of the device. Near the top of the right side is the IR port, and down near the bottom is the microSD slot cover. The top of the 800w has a sliding switch to activate silent mode and a dedicated button that takes the user to the wireless connections settings. For the first time Palm has moved to a microUSB charging/data port, which is situated on the bottom of the phone.

The back is dominated by the camera and large speaker. The speaker has large square holes, like the 750 and 755p, but this time the speaker sits below the 2.0 megapixel camera instead of to the side. This cluster, like the one on the front, is set in silver and sits on the top half above the battery door. The stylus slides down the right side, and unfortunately is plastic similar to the Centro. We would have much preferred a metal stylus, the plastic one is flimsy and cheap feeling on an otherwise well-built phone.

The 800w won’t win any fashion awards, but it is a sharp looking device that is right at home in a board room. It has a good in-hand feel, and the larger keyboard makes typing easy. We’d imagine some users will be looking for a better stylus, but overall the 800w is a great business device that is build well and should hold up to heavy, everyday use.

Palm Treo 800w Video Review:

Palm Treo 800w 360 Degrees View:


Running Windows Mobile 6.1, there isn’t a lot new with the interface. Though carriers have released new ROMs for current devices, and unlocked GSM devices have shipped with it, the 800w is the first carrier-available device to ship with WM 6.1 in the US. Changes from WM 6 are largely under the hood and the most notable upgrade is threaded text messaging, but Palm has had its own treading solution on their devices for years.

The 800w does not have a customized interface, like we have seen on HTC devices such as the Touch and Diamond. It runs a fairly standard WM homescreen, and of course it can be customized entirely by the user. The soft keys are Messaging on the left (which takes you to text messages) and Menu on the right. Menu brings up a context menu from which you can go to your contacts, the dialpad, preferences and a few more items.

Phonebook and Organizer:

As a WM Professional device the 800w is as full featured as it gets. It of course syncs with Outlook, so managing contacts and calendar is simple. There is nothing new with the 800w; it runs the standard Windows Mobile Calendar and Contacts application. Other PIM applications are also exactly the same as before, such as Notes, Tasks, Calculator and Clock.

The dialpad and phone interface has been redone, and looks much better. There is little to no lag when using the onscreen dialer, a problem that has plagued many WM devices. The in-call screen is very minimal; it shows the number and name (if in your contact list) or state, the timer and has Mute and Speakerphone options. All other options are available from a context menu. Unfortunately the caller ID picture is still miniscule.

Out of the box the device doesn’t support voice dialing over Bluetooth, but Palm has already released an update to fix this issue on their support page.


As we touched on earlier, Palm has had a threaded text messaging application on their phones for years. Despite the feature now being built into WM, Palm still uses its own client which is just fine with us because it is excellent. With the text box at the bottom and the conversation above, it is more like instant messaging than texting. It comes preloaded with Sprint Instant Messaging as well, so those who want to do actual instant messaging can do so via AIM, Yahoo and Windows Live Messaging.

Of course the 800w can handle email as well. It supports most common formats, such as POP3, IMAP, SMTP, Lotus Domino as well as Microsoft Direct Push. When connected with an Exchange account the user gets real time emails, otherwise accounts can be set to check at intervals ranging from every five minutes to once a day. The user can view and send most attachments, such as Office documents and PDF files.

Connectivity and Data:

As an EVDO Rev. A device the 800w is capable of download speeds up to 3.1Mbit/s and upload speeds of up to 1.8Mbit/s, though 500-700kbit/s is a more realistic upload speed. It also supports 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, allowing the user to surf at hotspots and on their home and work networks at higher speeds. For short range communication the 800w features both Infrared and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, which supports the following profiles: HSP, HFP 1.5, OPP, PBA, A2DP, AVRC, BPP, PAN, (HID).

ActiveSync handles all the data transfer between your phone and PC. It interfaces with Outlook, allowing the user to both back up their data and stay connected on the go.

In their latest Touch ROM Sprint included Opera Mobile, but unfortunately the 800w ships only with Internet Explorer. There is a new zoom feature in WM 6.1, but it’s unremarkable at best. Unfortunately there is no Java emulator on the phone so Opera Mini is not available, but Opera Mobile 9.5 beta will definitely beef up your browsing experience.


The camera took acceptable pictures. Unless the lighting was perfect colors were a bit oversaturated and edges soft. The options are kept to a minimum: the camera can shoot in Burst, Timer or Normal mode, there are 7 brightness levels and the user can set the resolution from 160x120 to 1600x1200. The 2x digital zoom is pretty much worthless. Video options are even sparser, you can change the brightness and choose between 176x144 or 320x240 resolutions. You won’t be taking home videos with this, but in QVGA mode they’re fine for uploading to YouTube.

Palm Treo 800w sample video at 320x240 pixels resolution.


Windows Media Player 10 handles audio and video playback. The Sprint Music Store- found on the Touch and Mogul- is not on board this time around, a possible testament to the business focus of the 800w. SprintTV is preloaded, however, so the user isn’t totally shut out of entertainment options. It has the familiar SprintTV interface, as opposed to the different style found on the Instinct. Sprint may have optimized the service, or it could just be the 320x320 display, but picture quality was noticeably better than we’ve seen in the past.


The 800w runs on a Qualcomm MSM6800A 333Mhz processor and has 128MB RAM and 256MB ROM. For a Windows Mobile device it ran fairly smoothly and we only experienced occasional menu lag. It supports microSDHC expansion, but does not come bundled with any card unfortunately. Sprint is usually good about including accessories, but Palm devices continue to be an exception.

It is preloaded with standards such as Office Mobile and Windows Live, but there are also some useful programs that ship with the device, most notably Sprite Backup. It has two programs that take advantage of the built-in GPS: Sprint Navigation and Maps. Sprint Navigation is great as always, and Maps has a great homescreen plugin that allows the user to search for nearby businesses. Unfortunately the two do not work with each other as Live Search and Sprint Navigation do on the Instinct; if a user finds a business using Maps they will have to copy the address into Sprint Navigation. Unfortunately it has Picsel PDF Viewer instead of Adobe, but the user can always download the latter.

Of course there are countless third party programs the user can install to customize their device and make it more useful.  Despite its problems, Windows Mobile is an OS, and while not quite open-source, the development community really comes through in overcoming Microsoft's shortcomings.  Case in point: the 800w does ship with the capability of closing programs by hitting "x," the user has to end it via the task manager, but there are several third party task managers that will enable this feature.


Callers said we sounded excellent on the phone, very rich and “close to landline quality.” They sounded great on our end too, the volume was good and the caller almost sounded like they were standing next to us. Unfortunately the speakerphone begins to distort when you get about half-way up the volume meter, so unless you’re in a quieter environment it’s pretty worthless. The phone seemed to hold a bit stronger signal than normal, which not only led to better call quality but faster data speeds as well. During our battery testing we fell well short of the rated 4.5 hours, achieving only 4 hours.


The Treo 800w is an excellent business device. It is very professional looking, is a good size and has a quality keyboard for tapping out emails. Functionally it has everything the business user could want, from Wi-Fi to GPS to Sprite Backup. It’s a bit boring however, so we don’t expect to see it in the hands of too many consumers. Boring is good for its target market however, and we feel the 800w is a solid follow-up to the consumer friendly Centro. Here’s hoping Palm can sustain this momentum and turn things around.


  • Excellent productivity tool
  • Wi-Fi, GPS and EVDO Rev. A
  • Quality keyboard


  • It’s still on the big side, and the design language is dated
  • Interface is business-like, but could be prettier

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