I’ve been a pretty satisfied user of Palm PDA’s over the years and have bounced around different brands such as the innovative Sony Clie models and especially the Tapwave Zodiac for the half-VGA (480 x 320) screen for eBook reading and the generous memory of 128MB and two SD card slots.
I’ve always subscribed to the comfort level of having two devices – one for datacentric purposes – contacts, calendar, eBooks & content and a straightforward cell phone for simply making calls and nothing else. When the Palm Treo 600 came out, I was not impressed with the lo-res screen and screen size. My thinking at the time was why downgrade from what I had been accustomed in using two devices coupled with the fear of losing a single converged device.
I have since warmed up to using a Palm Treo 650 for some time and have enjoyed the third party software applications that have complimented the usual benefits of a smartphone – email, web browsing and contact management in a tidy Palm OS user experience package. These third party software applications have included Handmark’s Pocket Express – news, weather and 411 lookups; , MobiTV, carrying various versions of the , music via PocketTunes and voice dialing via just to mention a few.
The Treo 650 became frustrating to use, as over time the 32MB of internal memory proved to be woefully inadequate. I would find myself unable to retrieve email, or fail to launch the TomTom GPS due to lack of memory. If I wanted to try a new program, I would have to delete an existing program just to experience a trial version. Thus, there were some sacrifices made along the way such as eliminating WorldMate Professional residing on the Treo 650 as resident mainstays.or or travel programs such as
Despite the sales hype or future promise, the Treo 650 was not going to replace my laptop anytime soon. I simply had to make compromises as to what programs I wanted to use on my Treo 650, assigned the rest to the Palm LifeDrive with the added benefit of WiFi and a 4GB hard drive while still carrying a laptop. Not the perfect scenario – a smartphone, a PDA, BlueTooth GPS receiver and a laptop with its associated accessories.
Early in January, I received a letter from Cingular touting the Treo 680 with its enhanced user interface and – what caught my attention – 64MB of internal memory. Not enough to make the switch, except the letter said I have been selected to receive special savings on the Palm Treo 680 for the low price of $74.95 USD. One phone call, a two year service commitment (again), activation on a qualifying 2-year PDA Connect unlimited data plan and a $39.99 USD or higher voice plan – which I already had in place – and I was in. Paying $199.00 USD or $399.00 USD for an unlocked GSMphone in a stylish color was out the question to “upgrade” from a Treo 650, so I was certainly happy to qualify for such as a plan.
Two days later, the Treo 680 arrived via FedEx.
Much has been said about the Treo 680, so I won’t rehash the same information about all the features, especially the less than stellar battery life (which has since been fixed with a patch).
Here are the specs of the Palm Treo 680:
OS: Palm OS v 5.4.9H
Processor: Intel PXA270 Processor
Bands: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
Display: 2.6 inches (320 x 320 pixels, 65,000 colors)
Expansion: Secure Digital
Talk/Standby Time: 4 hours/300 hours
Size: 4.4 x 2.3 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 5.5 ounces
Let’s see what’s in the box from Cingular…
and take a spin around the two phones with the Treo 650 on the bottom:
Left profile with the volume button and additional programmable button:
Top view with the ringer switch and the IR port; the SD card slot has been moved to the right side protected under a cover. Also the sim card now resides underneath the battery in the Treo 680.
I do miss the extended antenna. I would use the antenna to pull the phone out of the carrying case. Good for head scratching too!
Right view with the sim card slot opened:
and bottom view with the 2.5mm headset jack, the Palm USB sync-connector, power plug and the microphone.
… with a close up of the connectors:
Thankfully, in making the change over, the HotSync functionality is no different and the power connections, earphone and sync cables are the same fit as the Treo 650.
Here’s the underneath the hood view. On the Treo 680, the sim card tray is underneath the battery. The Treo 680 uses the 1200mAH battery made by Samsung of smaller capacity compared to the 1800mAH Treo 650 battery.
I’m just enjoying the extra memory (and elbow room) to run my favorite applications. The phone has a good feel and I’m getting use to using the text messaging function more frequently. My favorite is the now hard to find iPhony skin which mimics (to Apple’s dismay) the Apple iPhone skin. I think it’s fun to map the Palm applications to the iPhony icons and use my finger as the oversized stylus to simulate the iPhone experience until June, when Cingular comes knocking on my door again with an offer of an iPhone!
Conclusion: If you can get a good deal from your local Cingular store, (and you should), then the Treo 680 (in Graphite color only) is a worthy upgrade for the price. Nothing groundbreaking, but a worthy successor to the Treo 650 if you like the easy to use Palm interface and need the extra memory. The Treo 680 makes for a superb upgrade for regular cell phone users wanting to experience more than just placing and receiving calls.