Palm Treo Pro review
We find out if the Palm Treo Pro lives up to expectations
Verdict: Tidy, if fiddly smartphone from a stalwart
Pros: WiFi and GPS, 3.5mm headset jack, small and comfy to hold
Cons: Poor camera, fiddly keyboard, smallish screen
Operating System: Windows Mobile Professional 6.1
Once upon a time Palm was a name to conjure with. The company can take a huge slice of the credit for making today’s smartphone landscape what it is. Having pioneered the format long before anyone thought of putting SIMs into handheld devices, Palm and Microsoft went head to head in the battle for our hearts and minds (and money). But today Palm is a shadow of its former self, and the Treo Pro even incorporates Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system.
The Treo Pro is quite a comfortable device in the hand. Its rounded corners help give it a tidy look, and the black and silver colour scheme, while not exactly original, is pleasant enough to the eye. The shiny, smooth finish adds a touch of panache. At 114mm tall, 60mm wide and 13.5mm thick, and weighing 133g it is on a par with the competition, and its incorporated QWERTY keyboard should put it on the shortlist for frequent texters and fans of mobile email.
The keyboard is not all it could be, though. The keys are individually spaced which ought to make for fast, accurate typing, but the arrangement feels cramped. There is a rubbery finish to the keys and this seems to make hitting them at speed a bit less comfortable than a harder, more plasticky finish would. We found working at speed with accuracy more challenging than on some other keyboards. If you have stubby fingers, we’d suggest you steer clear.
The screen isn’t an ideal size, either. It measures just 2.5 inches across diagonal corners and delivers 320 x 320 pixels. There’s nothing wrong with its brightness or readability, but the screen feels decidedly small in comparison to much of the modern competition. If you are into web browsing or other media-rich activities you might be advised to look for a smartphone with a bigger screen and higher resolution.
Between screen and keyboard is an array of shortcut buttons designed to get you around the phone easily. There’s a shortcut to the Calendar, one to messaging, a Windows Mobile Start button and an OK button. Call and End buttons are rounded and nicely designed, and the navigation pad is large and easy to work with.
Palm has incorporated its famous ring silencer button on the top edge. We really like this as it allows you to quickly silence the phone and then bring it back to life without going through several button presses to change profiles. We also like the customisable side-key on the left edge. It means you can get quickly to whatever is your favourite application on the device.
There is a 3.5mm headset connector on the bottom edge of the casing. Generally, we prefer the headset connector to be on the top of the casing, but having it on either short edge is a lot better than having it on a long edge where it can be pocket-snagging. The right side has a key for powering up the built-in WiFi.
As well as WiFi, the Treo Pro incorporates GPS so you could use it for point-to-point navigation. While you wait to get set up with suitable software for this job you can use Google Maps which is pre-installed. That small screen isn’t ideal for viewing maps, though, any more than it is super when working on the web.
The Treo Pro is an HSDPA device with quad-band GSM and it has 100MB of free memory. There is a microSD card slot on one edge, sitting under the battery cover where it is nicely protected. We aren’t overly excited about the microUSB charge connector. We know this is the way of the future, but at the moment miniUSB is so widespread that you could end up having to carry a second charger and use a second cable for synching with your PC.
Keen photographers might find the camera is also a bit of a let-down. Two megapixels is way below par these days and with no flash or autofocus options are a little limited. Photos look washed out and lack colour depth and you won’t want to do much photography at night or in darker indoor conditions. Moreover, despite the fact that this is a HSDPA handset there is no front camera for two-way video calling.
Battery life was not as hot as it could be. Palm quotes five hours of talk and 250 hours on standby. Serious use of the HSDPA and GPS left it drained after a day. If you are a heavy data user, or like your music on the move, then daily charging will definitely be required.
Fans of Palm might find the Treo Pro a compelling option, but consider your needs before buying. The smallish screen and fiddly keyboard could be enough to put you off.