Palm Treo Pro CDMA Review

3
Introduction and Design
This is a CDMA phone offered with Sprint,
but there are also Alltel and GSMversions.

Introduction:


Palm isbringing a new device to Sprint, have you heard?  It’s sleekand sexy and a big departure from their previous designs.  No,it’s not the Pre (that’s coming too), it’s the Treo Pro.  Wefirst saw the Pro a few months back in GSM garb, and honestly not muchhas changed.  The Sprint version has all the great features ofthe original, but obviously swaps the GSM radio for a CDMAone.  It retains Wi-Fi and has EVDO Rev. A for 3G cellularconnectivity.  Other features include GPS, a full QWERTYkeyboard and Windows Mobile 6.1Professional.

Included in the box you willfind:
  • Li-Ionbattery
  • AC Adapter
  • USB datacable
  • Stereoheadset


Design:

The CDMA Pro isidentical in design to its GSM forerunner.  The face is muchsleeker than any Treo we’ve seen before, with curvy lines and flushnavigation buttons.  The keys are the same as on the Centro,though with a little more spacing since the phone iswider.

The Treo Pro does not abandon its rootsaltogether though, and the overall design is the same as any other Treoout there: display on top, cluster of navigational and shortcut buttonsin the middle and QWERTY keyboard below.  The 2.5” sits flush with thehousing, a departure from previous Palm devices that makes thetouchscreen easier to use.  It measures in at 320x320 pixelsand as a Windows Mobile device is only 65k colors.  It’s agood display, but not great.  We had no problems reading itany lighting condition, but like we’ve seen on past Motorola screensthe colors seemed just a bit washed out and they aren’t as vibrant aspanels we’ve seen from HTC and Samsung, even though HTC manufacturesthe Treo Pro.



You cancompare the Palm Treo Pro CDMA with many other phones using ourSizeVisualization Tool.

Thecluster in the middle features the same buttons we’ve seen before, butits makeover is much needed and gives the Pro a much differentlook.  There is the five-way directional pad in the middle,with two stacked shortcut keys to each side and send and end on the faredges.  Thankfully Palm has ditched the needless mechanicalsoftkeys we’ve seen in the past.  The d-pad is a silver ring, andin the middle is a black bubble button with a silver Palmlogo.  It is easy to use and navigate with.  Theshortcut keys are pre-programmed to Start Menu, OK, Messaging andCalendar, but are customizable in the settings menu.  Theyalso are flush and seamless with the glossy black housing, which is alarge part of what gives the Pro its modern appearance.  TheSend and End keys are simplysmall black circles, rounded and raised with an LED-litgreen and red ring around them respectively.  They arevisually separated from the rest of the cluster by an hourglass-curvedline.  Again, small design touches that make a world ofdifference.

The keyboard isvirtually the same as the Centro,though there are a few small differences.  Since the Pro iswider, the far left and right columns of keys are as big as the rest,not tapered like the Centro.  There is also the slightestamount of extra spacing between the keys, making a fairly good keyboardbetter.  It’s still no BlackBerry, but the slight grippinessof the keys prevents your finger sliding off and pressing two atonce.  Unfortunately they are not super grippy like therefreshed Centro.  They feel much cushier than the hardplastic keypads of previous Treos, which we appreciate.  Thetravel is good and there is no doubt that the key has beenpressed.

The side buttons are sleek and welldesigned; there is no missing them but they blend into the body’sminimalist design well.  The volume rocker sits on the topleft, and below itis the camera key which has to be held to activate.  Theright side has aflush Wi-Fi on/off button towards the bottom, sitting above the IRport.  The keys on the left side offer reassurance whenpressed, but the Wi-Fi switch has no tactile feedback.  Whenwe pressed it worked, but we only knew so because of the onscreenconfirmation.

The top of the phone has a power button to the leftand sliding silence switch to the right.  The power key isflush like the Wi-Fi switch, but easy to press like the left sidebuttons.  The bottom houses the microUSB charging/data portand 3.5mm headphone jack.


The back of the Pro would probably fit perfectly onthe iPhone3G, assuming it had a removable door.  The Proshares the same fingerprint magnet glossy black finish and softrounding at the corners and edges that make it comfortable tohold.  Unfortunately it also shares the tendency to scratchwhen breathed on, and even the most OCD user will notice lightscratches after just a few minutes of use.  Under the door isthe microSD expansion slot.

The 2-megapixel camera is situated in the middle near the top, anddirectly to the left is a vertical speaker on the edge.  Thestylus is tucked away tightly into the bottom left corner. Thankfully Palm has moved back to metal after using a cheap plastic oneon the 800w.

TheTreo Pro feels good in the hand, reminiscent of the iPhone. It’s slightly narrower, which we always prefer, but overall thedimensions are very similar and the rounded backing makes the depthdeceptive.  The weighting is good; the Pro is solid withoutbeing heavy.  Where the Centro was an evolutionary departurefrom the norm, the Pro is a gigantic leap forward in the design of Palmdevices and bridges the gap between the Treo andPre.



Palm Treo Pro CDMA Video review:



Palm Treo Pro CDMA 360 Degrees View:



Interface:

Running Windows Mobile 6.1, there isn’t a lot newwith the interface. The Pro does not have a customized homescreen likedevices such as the HTCTouch Diamond and Sony Ericsson Xperia X1.  This, ofcourse, can be customized entirely by the user with different pluginsand even new interface overlays. The homescreen soft keys are Contactson the left and Internet on the right, which launches InternetExplorer.  The HTC Task Manager’s quick menu sits at the topright of the screen, allowing users to quickly close running programsand see real time memoryusage.

Phonebook andOrganizer:

As a WM Professional device the Pro 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 Pro; it runs the standard Windows Mobile Calendar and Contacts. 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 yet again, and HTC’s fingerprints are evident.  A press of the send key brings up recent calls and contacts, but annoyingly not the onscreen dialpad.  That is accessed via the left softkey, and unlike the original Pro the lag between button presses is thankfully gone.  The pad itself is large and easy to use, and even though the onscreen version must be accessed by softkey the user can dial with the physical keyboard at any time.  Not only can you dial by number, but if you start typing in letters it will match your contacts.

Like the HTC Touch and older HTC devices, the in-call screen features six onscreen buttons in two rows.  For the Pro they are Speaker, Mute, Hold, Note, Contacts and Unlock/Lock.  The screen is locked by default when on the call, and the user has to use the d-pad to access the Unlock button which is a minor annoyance.  It’s a good idea in theory, but doesn’t translate in practice since simply turning off the screen produces the same results.  Like the 800w the caller ID picture is miniscule.

 


Messaging:

One of the most useful upgrades in Windows Mobile 6.1 is the threaded text messaging, but Palm has been doing this for years.  On the 800w Palm stuck with their application; it is unfortunately absent on the Pro.  It’s a minor gripe, as the functionally is basically the same, but we appreciated the little touches like smiley shortcuts and felt the look was better overall.  Windows Messenger is bundled with the device, as is Sprint’s Instant Messenger program which integrates AIM, Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger into one application.

The Pro does 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 andData:

Sprint’s Treo Pro is a CDMA device, with 3G data.  It features EVDO Rev. A and Wi-Fi b/g.  For short range communication the Pro offers both infrared and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, which supports the following profiles: HSP, HFP, OPP, GAP, SPP, SDAP, HID, GAVDP,  A2DP, AVRC, PAN, SAP and PBAP.

Wi-Fi on the Pro is a great feature, but Palm’s implementation here sucks.  The connection is dropped once the device goes to sleep by default, meaning that the user has to reinitiate the connection with the Wi-Fi switch.  In the preferences this can be changed to automatically connect on wakeup.  We understand that disabling it during sleep saves battery, but at the same time it means that if Wi-Fi is the only data connection the user will not get email notifications, etc, when the device is sleeping.

Some reports had the Pro being able to do simultaneous voice and data, but at least on our unit this was not the case.  Since the device has not been officially released yet this is of course subject to change and we will update our review accordingly.

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.

HTC has been including Opera Mobile in many of their ROMs, but unfortunately the Pro ships only with Internet Explorer.  Luckily it is at least IE6, which includes native flash support and has a page overview function for easier navigation.  At face value there really isn't much different though, and while better IE6 is still leagues behind other browsers and we still recommend an immediate download of Opera Mobile 9.5 or Skyfire to beef up your browsing experience.




Camera:

The 2 megapixel camera performed decently. We were not able to put it through a proper test, but at least on-screen it appears to be the same as the GSM Pro. Colors were a bit washed out, but lines were generally crisp. The interface shows its HTC heritage; it is nearly identical to devices like the Touch and Touch Diamond. It has been slightly reworked, but the icons and layout are unmistakable. This means there are many more options than we saw on the 800w, and overall the results were better.




As with HTC devices we’ve seen, the Pro can record videos at small, medium, large and CIF resolutions and in both MPEG4 and H.263 formats. Again, options are more generous than what we saw on the 800w and fall more in line with what we saw from the Diamond. Videos are of YouTube quality, there is not much else to say about them.

Multimedia:

Windows Media Player 10 handles audio and video playback, nothing new here. It is a capable player and we like many things about it, but there is always room for improvement. See our review on third party offerings for a more in-depth look at what is available.

Sprint TV is included and gives the user access to dozens of channels of both live and on-demand content. Sprint Music gives the user both a player and the ability to download tracks over the air. There is a YouTube program, but it is not the same client found on the Diamond. Instead it launches Kimoma FreePlay, a decent player but nothing like the excellent YouTube player found on branded HTC devices.

Software:

The Pro runs on a Qualcomm MSM7501A 528MHz 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.

It is preloaded with standards such as Office Mobile and Windows Live, but there are also some useful programs that ship with the device. Telenav on the original Pro has been replaced with Sprint Navigation, a carrier-branded version of Telenav. Google Maps isn’t preloaded, but is of course a free download. Quick GPS allows the user to download satellite information for quicker fixes. Picsel PDF Viewer has thankfully been ditched in favor of Adobe Reader LE. Last but certainly not least is Remote Desktop Mobile, which does exactly as the name implies.

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 a powerful OS, and while not quite open-source the development community really comes through in overcoming Microsoft's shortcomings.



Performance:

The CDMA Pro had noticeably better call quality compared tothe original. There was still some slight tinnines on ourend, but the caller’s voice was clear enough and sounded mostlynatural. They said we sounded a bit distant and there weresome echoes, but that we sounded overall good and gave us a rating of7.5-8/10. Battery life is rated at 5 hours, but we onlymanaged 4h in our test.

Conclusion:

We still likewhat we get in the Treo Pro, but at the same time can’t help but lookforward to the Pre. We’re not quite sure where it fits in Sprint’s lineup, given that HTCoffers two devices that not only offer more features, but are betterdesigned. Still, the Pro has a good design and will probablyfind its way into more than a few business suits. When wefirst saw the Pro we were impressed with the hardware, but had concernsabout the vanilla software and fears that this would ultimately doomPalm. WebOS has quelled our fears, but unfortunately that hasnothing to do with the Pro and we still wish it had software to matchits beautiful hardware.



Pros

  • Sleek, modern design without losing functionality
  • All the productivity that comes with Windows Mobile 6.1
  • Lots of connectivity options, including Wi-Fi and 3G
  • Better call performance this time around

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Hardware is beautiful, but the software needs some sprucing up
  • Keyboard is good, but large fingers still may have problems

PhoneArena Rating:

7.5

User Rating:

7.9
5 Reviews

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