First of all, true confessions are in order. When you have a GSM version of the Treo Pro and are quite content with it, it is very hard to come up with motivation to test the Sprint version of the Treo Pro. However, with the run up to the release of the Palm Pre, I have to admit that Sprint's "Now Network" commercials and promotions got me curious. So what you are about to read will have a Sprint focus and delve a bit into how the Treo Pro fits in Sprint's family of smartphone offerings. In fact, looking at the packaging in light of the newly released Palm Pre, it almost feels like the Treo Pro served as sort of a dress rehearsal.
This review will be more of an overview to the Sprint Treo Pro and not a comprehensive top to bottom examination. You probably already know that both Treo Pros look identical on the outside except for the Sprint branding on the CDMA version. We'll take a little look inside the Sprint version and see what's different.
Un-Boxing the Treo Pro
The Treo Pro is packaged like the recent Palm smartphones, in the small, white box with the light, environmental packaging. As with the GSM version, the CDMA Treo Pro comes with the auto-install feature instead of being shipped with the standard install CD like in the past with other Palm smartphones. This is a very welcome change.
In the box:
- Treo Pro
- Recycling envelope
- USB AC charger with adapter
- USB cable
- Getting Started guide
Not sure why, but Palm didn't include stereo headphones as they did with the GSM version. Perhaps they are leaving it up to personal preference. From what I've heard from Pre owners, the stereo headphones are the weakest part of their out-of-box experience.
The power-brick on the CDMA version is a different shape than the GSM version. The CDMA version is cylindrical whereas the GSM power-brick was more of an oval shape. This is another weak part of the Treo Pro experience, because the diameter of the USB AC charger with adapter takes up more than one outlet jack in a power strip.
Quick Rundown of Features
The Treo Pro runs Windows Mobile 6.1. It has a high capacity battery (1500 mAh) which can easily accommodate a power user's need to for checking email, surfing the web, talking, hopping in and out of WiFi, etc. And speaking of WiFi, the Treo Pro has an instant on button that is extremely convenient.
It has a full QWERTY keyboard that feels a lot like the one on the Palm Centro, but is wider. The beautiful touchscreen, 320 x 320 transflective color TFT, is flush with the front of the device, which really looks amazing. The Start key, OK, Calendar and Messaging buttons are also flush. I especially liked the soft keys that are part of the touchscreen experience. On the other hand, the stylus that comes with the Treo Pro is strictly there as a crutch (as in, use only if necessary). Youll have a way better experience if you get comfortable using the touchscreen and 5-way navigator only.
There is a MicroSD expansion slot, but for some reason, it is hidden away under the back cover. Not sure why this became a standard approach for Palm. Perhaps is was a reaction to the number of times people inadvertently dislodged their SD card in earlier versions of the Treo.
If you want to learn more about the hardware, I suggest you check out the unboxing and hands-on video that Dieter did right before the Sprint version of the Treo Pro was released. He also answered some Treo Pro questions from the forums.
Compare and Contrast with the Palm Pre
The Palm Pre and the Treo Pro come in similar boxes with a clear sleeve.
You can get a feel of the size difference in the pics above that I borrowed from Dieter's Pre and Treo Pro photo gallery.
The Treo Pro is 2.4" x 4.5" x 0.5" and the Palm Pre is 2.3" x 3.9" x 0.67" so you could say, the Pro is wider, slightly thinner and slightly taller. As mentioned before, the Treo Pro sports a 1500mAh battery. The Palm Pre has 1150mAh standard battery. Interestingly enough, both claim up to 5.0 hours of talk time. But based on early reports, the Pres lightweight battery isnt holding up to all day use.
Of course, Windows Mobile 6.1 and Palm's new webOS are like day and night. Suffice it to say that it all comes down to the apps you use on a daily basis and the security needs/IT management capabilities you require. I suppose anyone in the Microsoft camp will be happy with the Internet Explorer Mobile 6 that comes with the Treo Pro. It has some neat features, including support for Adobe Flash. Having the full Microsoft Office Mobile Suite on board is convenient too, because you can view and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. Plus from the Today screen, you can access Live Search.
But alas, now that is actually Bing. That's right. Initiating a search by typing something in the Live Search box launches Explorer and takes you to a mobile version of bing. So I got Pre news (Palm Appoints New CEO for New Era), and a link to Palm's website.
Now... the Difference
Initially, testing was conducted by tapping the WiFi at home. The Treo Pro is screamin' fast. A hop over to Palm's Mobile Portal was so quick and seamless that I had to double check to make sure it wasn't tapping the WiFi. Sure enough the EV with two-way arrow icon was showing, so it really is what it is - a very fast network.
Part of the Now-ness of the Treo Pro is Sprint Music, Sprint TV and Sprint Navigation.
Music I was able to pull up a Taylor Swift song just as quick as using iTunes from my desktop.
TV I was disappointed that when I loaded Sprint TV, it prompted me to update a newer version and then gave me an error message saying "unable to load."
Navigation I searched for Verizon and was quickly offered 9 options. I selected one and was quickly shuttled into the navigation screen with verbal directions being given to me from my current location. I have used TeleNav with the Centro using a keychain GPS receiver and it is like day and night how swiftly and smoothly the Sprint Navigation works on the Treo Pro.
YouTube Videos - To use YouTube, you first have to register Kinoma FreePlay. I searched for a Family Guy clip and selected one for Stewie and the time machine episode. It played smoother than on the desktop! Now that is sweet!
Kinoma FreePlay is pretty incredible too. I logged into the MarketWatch "Take on Tech" podcast that talked about the new Apple iPhone. It loaded quickly and the podcast was crystal clear again, a better experience than I have on my desktop.
Sprint Call Quality - One thing I forgot to mention in the comparison between the Palm Pre and the Treo Pro is that they both sport a 3.5mm stereo headset jack. I raise this because the Palm Centro has a 2.5mm headset jack, which means it can be used with a corded headset as an option for hands-free use. For the Treo Pro and the Palm Pre, you have to use a Bluetooth headset. Admittedly, that's a trade-off when discussing call quality because it is hard to judge with Bluetooth as a variable.
In general, call quality was quite good. One of my tests is to leave a voicemail to myself. When I played it back, it sounded fine.
Back in January, you may recall how ecstatic I was to be reunited with my Treo Pro at the conclusion of the Round Robin. As far as Windows Mobile devices go, it is the snappiest, best looking one I've ever handled. It's front facing QWERTY keyboard, which can be used one-handed, is great for texting and emailing. I love the touchscreen and how the Pro has complementary softkeys and hard keys. Buttons are smartly situated to handle everything from instant WiFi access to ringer on/off, to volume control, to activating its 2.0 megapixel camera. Seriously, besides the fact that it is a fingerprint magnet, and the fact that I'm not too thrilled with using Microsoft Explorer as my default browser, there wasn't much I didn't like about the Treo Pro.
What I found out during my trial period is that "Now" makes all the difference. You can tell that Sprint, as the carrier that's bringing up the rear, really worked at making its Now Network worthy of such fine devices as the Treo Pro and Palm Pre. In light of Apple's unveiling of the iPhone 3G s (s for speed) and listening to the grumbling of iPhone owners about their frustrations with AT&T, Sprint may be onto something.
If having a Windows Mobile device is a requirement (something mandated by your company's IT department), the Sprint Treo Pro with its built-in, "office-ready" apps and ability to sync with Exchange Server out-of-the-box, should definitely be in the consideration set.
Its ultraslim, stylish looks alone put it in contention. It is functionally intuitive to use and can hold its own in the ever changing, smartphone landscape. Plus, Sprint's Now Network lets you do even more than you imagined at a price that isn't mind-boggling (or wallet draining). With the lightning speed of Sprint's network compared to my slow Edge (that's right, we STILL don't have 3G in my area) on AT&T, I ended up wishing that I could trade these two Treo Pros.
Plus, look at it this way... If for some reason, your Windows Mobile requirement changes, you can always opt for a new Palm Pre ; ) Either way, you're likely to be very happen with your choice.
- Front facing QWERTY keyboard
- Small, sleek and glossy
- Very Speedy
- Now Network
- WiFi function and WiFi button
- Internet Explorer... need I say more?
- diameter of USB AC charger with adapter takes up more than one outlet jack in a power strip
- No headphones included
Note: Annie Latham contributed to this article.