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Treo 700w

Thu Jan 5, 2006 - 3:13 PM EST - By Michael Ducker

Windows Mobile and Phone

Summary of windows mobile and phone

The best user interface change in Windows Mobile is the Treo 700w’s new Today screen. From it, you can smart dial, email, or text contacts, use speed dial, google web search, and see your latest email and appointments. I love it. The in-call phone interface has been significantly changed on the Treo 700w, loosing the easy to push touchscreen buttons for hanging up, speakerphone and more. These features are pushed into a bland hard to scan menu. While I do not like that specific choice, I do like the new way that conference calling is handled, along with the half-screen display of active calls.

The new active Today screen

Instead of a program launcher or dial pad, the home screen of the Treo 700w is a customizable "Today" screen, which out of the box acts as a notifier for unread messages, upcoming appointments, a dialpad, a speed dialer, and a google web-searcher all in one. The original Today screen has been the premier feature of Windows Mobile since its inception, and now Palm has made it even better. Let’s go through the features one by one.

The top bar appears in every Windows Mobile program, and includes a start menu, network indicators, a battery indicator, and a clock. Start, like on a PC desktop, drops down a menu, letting you easily access up to seven user-defined applications, programs, settings, and the last five applications accessed. Network indicators include the standard signal strength, as well as a label for active, inactive, and available EVDO/1xRTT connections.

Tapping the network indicators allows you to quickly access connection settings, or turn on flight mode (which like the Treo 650, can also be done by holding down the red phone button). Tapping the clock shows you the date, as well as your next upcoming appointment.

The next bar is the carrier indicator bar, providing network indicators that don’t need to be seen in every application. This bar shows the carrier you are operating on, as well as your current location privacy setting, and Bluetooth status. Tapping these buttons takes you to the appropriate settings. Unlike the rest of the today screen, it is not possible to remove, or move this bar.

The signature feature of the Treo 700w is that from the Today screen, you do not need to tap anything to start dialing a phone number, or look up a contact to email, text, or call. That said, Palm engineers found that users were easily confused by the lack of an input box, and so the next box is a removable box to make it intuitive to how you dial phone numbers or look up contacts.

To dial a name or number, simply start typing it in; when you are done, press the left hand green phone button or enter to call. If the name is in your address book, you can do a smart-dial like on existing Treos.

Just start typing the person’s name; all numbers associated with that person will appear on the screen. Scroll up or down and press enter to call or open the contact. If you want to text or email the person, hold down the center of the five-way button, and another menu will offer you the ability to text their mobile numbers or email any of their associated addresses.

One change for existing Treo users; initials/names are now entered with a space between first and last names, such as m d, as opposed to md, to find Michael Ducker. Overall, I am very pleased with the dialing and smart dialing on the Treo 700w; as a drop down menu, it feels more integrated into the device, and the new ability to easily email contacts from the same interface is a welcome feature.

Below the input box is speed dial. The Treo 700w innovates on other speed dials by offering a photo speed dial. More than anything, this feature humanizes the Treo, putting your friends, family, coworkers, or any other image in front of you every time. Setup of speed dials is very similar to existing Treos, and quick keys continue to exist. Speed dials can also be in standard text. Unlike on the Treo 650, speed dials are just that - speed dials. Without 3rd party applications you can launch programs from the Today screen.

Rounding out the Today screen, the last three bars show upcoming appointments, any new messages in your sms/email boxes, and provide a direct searchbox for Google. On an EVDO connection, the direct search box is fast and provides a easy one step way to find out any information through Google you need. On the Treo 700w Today screen, for perhaps the first time, phone, messaging, calendar, and Internet are all combined into one easy to use interface. To say the least, I am a fan of this new setup.

As current Windows Mobile users know, the Today screen is also completely theme-able and customizable – many other plugins exist to showcase information on the today screen, and virtually any image or color scheme can be used for the background to all of these plugins.

Phone Calls

The Treo has always been first and foremost a phone. I still feel that this is still true on the Treo 700w, as demonstrated through the ease of dialing, and the dedicated phone send and end buttons.

Sadly though, the on-call interface that Handspring invented with the original Treo, and Palm uses to this day on the Treo 650 has disappeared. In its place is a poor replacement.

Gone are the large easy to press buttons, and guided three-way dialing. The hold key has moved to the left soft key, and speakerphone, dial pad, mute, have all been pushed into a tiny menu from the right soft key.

Conference calling has all but disappeared as a menu option; not to worry though, as the Treo now does conference calling automatically. While it may be non-intuitive at first, on the Treo 700w one just needs to enter contacts to dial another number. The Treo automatically puts the existing call on hold and creates a conference call. While one can no longer complain about hitting buttons with ones face, I enjoyed the large tap screen buttons, and do miss them in the Treo 700w’s interface.

One notable change to the interface for on-call dialing, is that a phone call no longer takes up the entire screen. Instead, a panel that takes up half of the screen represents the call. A small down arrow is at the bottom of that panel, providing a very simple user interface indicator that the user can do other things while on the call – indeed, pressing the down key makes the current call panel disappear into just another part of your today screen. I really like this detail, and I think it will be helpful in communicating to Treo users that they can do other things while on a call.

Incoming calls appear as a half screen popup over whatever the current window is, showing a small stamp sized image if you have one of the person calling.

I really wish that it would show a larger image, like the Treo 650 does, but I also enjoy the fact that the window only takes up half of the screen. I guess I want the best of both worlds.

If I do not want to answer the call, whatever I was currently working on is still there visible behind the popup. To answer a call, press the left soft key, or the green phone key. To ignore a call, use the red end key or the right soft key.

You can also ignore with a text message, through the right soft key (a feature that Palm proudly said that they could only do on Windows Treo, only for a young independent developer to make it for the Treo 650 a few weeks later). Any other key silences the ringer and vibrator, but does not answer/ignore the call.

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Product Info
> Name Treo 700w
> Company Palm, Inc
> Operating System Windows Mobile
> Memory 128MB (60M Storage available)
> Processor Intel XScale 312MHz
> Screen 240 x 240 color TFT, 16-bit
> Wireless 800/1900MHz, EvDo, 1xRTT
> Bluetooth Version 1.2
> Camera 1.3 MP
> Size 2.3" W x 4.4" H (excluding antenna) x 0.9" D
> Weight 6,4 ounces
> Fact Sheet & User Opinions
> Available
> $399

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