The Palm Treo 700p Palm OS Smartphone Review

It didn’t hit home that the last Palm OS device I had owned was the Tapwave Zodiac, until Alison from Astraware asked if I would like to take a look at their new Palm OS game Cake Mania. But I couldn’t, because I had sold the Zod in 2005 and had never replaced it. D’oh!

Seeing that I enjoy using a Windows Mobile 5 device as my main brain, I thought it would be a good idea to swap my Samsung A900 (a decidedly non-smart phone) with a Palm OS smart phone – specifically Sprint‘s Treo 700p. This device has been out for about four months, and I kept seeing it around…and it was growing on me.

To backtrack for just a moment: I had reviewed the Treo 600 Palm OS Powered Phone in October 2003, and though I liked it well enough, I had never joined the nation’s Treo craze. Since the 600’s introduction the Treo line has improved quite a bit – anyone that doesn’t think so should take a look at the 600’s specifications when compared to the 700’s – it’s like night and day. The hardware has basically stayed true to the original rock-solid design, although there have been some subtle tweaks along the way; I guess that when something is working there is no reason to really fool with the formula.

I was loaned a Reviewer’s model, which was a wonderful way for me to try the device before buying. “My” Treo came in a plain white box.

Inside was the Palm 700p Smartphone, its rechargeable battery, an AC power charger, a USB sync cable, a wired headset, one stylus, the Palm software installation CD with user guide and desktop synchronization software, user documentation and a Palm universal screen protector. This screen protector is of the static cling variety; while it will protect the Treo’s screen, it will make the screen look terrible when it’s on.

Processor: Intel XScale 312MHz processor
Operating System: Palm OS 5.4.9
Memory: 128MB (60MB user accessible) non-volatile memory
Display: 320 x 320 color TFT touchscreen display 16-bit color displays displays up to 65,536 colors
Interface: USB (for HotSync operation), Infrared, Bluetooth? 1.2 wireless support – no A2DP
Input: Full QWERTY key layout with backlighting, Integrated number dial pad
Dimensions and Weight: 2.3″ W x 4.4″ H (excluding antenna) x 0.9″ D (58mm W x 113mm H x 23mm D), 6.4 ounces (180 grams)
Battery: Removable and rechargeable Li-Ion 3.7V 1800mAh , Talk time – up to 4.5 hours, Standby time – up to 300 hours
Expansion: MultiMediaCard, SD & SDIO cards
Band Type: CDMA 800/1900MHz digital dual-band, CDMA2000 EvDO network-backwards compatible with 1xRTT and IS95 networks
TTY Services – TTY/TDD compatibility
Digital Camera – 1.3 megapixels with 1280×1024 resolution, Automatic light balance, 2x digital zoom, Integrated self-portrait mirror, Video capture with 352 x 288 resolution
Speaker – Personal Speakerphone, Polyphonic MIDI & WAV ringtones, External ringer on/off switch w/ vibrate mode
Sprint Vision Services available for this phone:
Headset: 2.5mm headset jack is stereo headset compatible-requires a stereo headset adapter, sold separately, for use with standard stereo headphones

System Requirements:
Windows PC: Windows 2000 or Windows XP Service Pack 2 (later versions may also be supported)
Mac OS 10.2.4-10.4
USB port (USB sync cable included), CD-ROM drive

The 700p measures 4.4″ tall (not counting the antenna) x 2.3″ wide x 0.9″ thick, and it weighs 6.1 ounces on my postal scale which is a few points less than what Palm claims. Its body is composed of dark gray and matte silver plastic. The chrome border around the screen and the chrome middle button of the directional pad give the device a little bit of flash, but nothing gaudy. This Treo looks like a business tool, which is fitting because it is certainly marketed to business users. The screen measures exactly 1.84″ tall x 1.88″ wide, and its resolution of 320 x 320 is very crisp and vivid (not that you can tell in this picture). 😉

The 700p is deceptive, because it seems large when seen sitting by iteself, but it is surprisingly small when held.

Its body is solid, it won’t creak when squeezed (unless you happen to catch the battery compartment door while doing so), and its back is angled so that the 700p will perfectly cradle in the user’s hand. This PDA Phone is comfortable to carry, and it feels natural to hold it while walking, pointing, doing whatever. It easily becomes an extension of the user’s hand, which is important for those that are either compulsive email checkers (ahem!) or those who are always talking on the phone without a headset.

Let’s take a spin around the 700p…

On the left side are the volume up &down buttons, as well as a customizable button which can be mapped to the application of the user’s choice.

The bottom holds the headphone jack, sync & charge port, and the microphone.

The right side is plain.

The top of the device has a ringer on & off switch, an SD card port and the stubby antenna. The ringer switch will vibrate to confirm when it is switched to the “off” position.

Flipping the Treo over momentarily shows the metal stylus in its silo, the digital camera, and the tiny personal mirror – it might come in handy after eating broccoli, I suppose! 😉

The stylus is a solid metal toothpick with a black nib at the bottom. As stock styli go, it’s got a nice weight to it, but it is too thin to use comfortably for extended periods of time.

That is not a problem however, as the main character input on the Treo will most likely be done through its QWERTY keyboard. The buttons which composre the keyboard are hard plastic chiclets that click down easily – however, I have had some issues with the function key not always pressing in to allow number input. As far as entering text in such a compact area, the trick is to use the tips and sides of your thumbs, by doing so direct pressure is placed only on the key intended; it just takes a little bit of practice. The keyboard is fully backlit, and the keys and buttons are all easy to find – even in the darkest room. Note that the green and red buttons under the screen are not backlit.

The buttons directly under the screen are (going in clockwise order and starting at the top left) the green Send button, the four way D-pad with center select button, the red Power / End button, the Applications button, the Messaging button, the Calendar button and the Phone button. The combination of these buttons on the face of the 700p allows quick and dirty one-handed operation.

There is no graffiti area on the screen, but the combination of directional pad, buttons under the screen, tappable screen and keyboard truly do away with the need for manual handwritten text. Nice times out of ten, I bet that items needing tapped on the screen will be tapped with a finger tip instead of the stylus – make sure you invest in a good screen protector. 😉

The battery compartment door on the back of the device is probably the Treo’s weakest link. It is held in place with a simple catch, and I am not convinced that it will hold up over long periods of use – especially if one is a frequent battery swapper. The reset switch is still hidden in the battery compartment – it’s the hole in the notched plastic between the battery and the stylus silo.

Battery life has been very good. On our recent trip to Kansas City I was able to check emails, read for several hours, send a few SMS, check emails again…basically put the PDA through its paces for the four or so hours we were traveling – and my battery still hadn’t hit 50% by the time we arrived. Even so, I went ahead and bought a 2400mAh Seido extended battery for times when I know I’ll want the extra juice – and it fits under the original battery compartment door. 🙂

That’s really about it. For the most part I?have been?very impressed with the Palm 700’s hardware, enough so that I knew I would definitely be buying one by the time this review was over. (I actually wound up buying the 700wx, but that is neither here nor there.)

Since this is my first Palm OS review on Gear Diary, I figured I would go all out and document most of the various programs and applications. Let’s talk about the Software…!

This is the familiar Palm launcher screen, only mine is plum, which perfectly matches my Vaja i-volution case. 🙂

Software that comes pre-installed on the 700p:

Blazer Web Browser – May I be frank? I’m not too impressed. It looks primitive after years of using Pocket Explorer. However it does support streaming media…now. Which is a good thing because the 700p supports EvDO speeds in areas that have it – which would be just about anywhere but San Angelo. 🙁

Bluetooth ?Manager – you’ll want to get familiar with this utility if you don’t want to actually hold the Treo to your head when making a call. I tested the 700p with my Bluespoon AX2, and found the range to be about the same as other phones I’ve tested. To be honest, nine times out of ten I just hold the Treo to my head to make and take calls; it’s less fuss.


Calendar – Allows various display options as well as the ability to use a picture as the background. But isn’t the plum color scheme pretty enough as is? 😉

I like the Agenda view the best…

…but the Day view is probably most practical.

Camcorder – Video capture with 352 x 288 resolution. Since my screen capture program won’t snap anything that is moving – you get to see a black screen of doom. 😈

Camera – There’s not much to say about the camera, I mean…it’s 1.3 megapixels and after the pink screen of doom, you can see the results.

It’s safe to say that having the Treo’s camera along all the time is better than having nothing – but the Treo’s camera will never replace your regular digital. Bring on more? 2 megapixel PDA cameras, please! 😛

Card info – displays pertinent information about the inserted SD card.

Contacts – Too bad there is no large letter displayed for each category when quickly scrolling through, I guess I have become spoiled by Pocket PC. Otherwise, it’s a list that breaks down either by “Last Name, First Name” or “Company, Last Name” and it can be filtered by categories.

Documents To Go? 8.0 – If you want to view your word documents, spreadsheets, .pdf files or PowerPoint files, then you’ll be glad to have this program. I can remember when it had to be purchased separately, and I still thought it was a good deal. Wow…it sounds like I am?about to bust into a “whyyyy, back in the day…story”, doesn’t it? Well, I could! 😉

HotSync? Manager

Memos – I make the best Baklava…email me if you want the recipe. 😉

Messaging – ahhh, what a lovely application.

Threaded SMS…

…something every other OS’s messaging program should have.

MyTreo – an on-device Help Manual that is very handy!

On Demand (Pocket Express) – This is a program that is perfect for someone who is not confident using the mobile Palm site or a mobile RSS reader.

Phone – I really like the Palm OS version dialer, everything is accessible by the user’s thumb while working the directional pad and the center select button.

This launcher at the bottom of the phone screen is extremely handy, and it’s configurable…

Making an actual phone call pulls up this screen, where selections can be made to hang up, put the call on speakerphone, hold the call, pull up the dial-pad, or put the call on mute.

Pictures and Videos? – allows you to see the pictures and videos created, move them to a card, put them in albums, email them, delete them…

PocketTunes – the Treo’s included MP3 player

QuickTour – a get acquainted guide for those that are new to the Treo

Sprint TV – Watch TV on your Treo? Sure…sign me up!

Oh wait…you really do have to sign up to get the good channels. Pfffffft! 😛

There are some free channels to watch, but the experience is not so great because the picture can be rather pixilated and choppy.

Tasks – Displayable in list form, by date, or by category.

Okay, so I was a day late on this review. 😉

VersaMail? – The inbox on the Treo. It works with POP, IMAP, APOP, ESMTP, and “wizards for popular Web mail accounts such as Earthlink, Yahoo, Compuserve, and more.”

Voice Memo – record and play back voice memos, create voice emails…

World Clock – it’s actually almost 3am now; I am so sleeping in tomorrow! 🙄

Software on CD-ROM:

Audible – Download and listen to audible books on your Treo. No screen shot – go to their site!

Bejeweled? – Hey, this is pretty cool! Arguably one of the greatest games of all time. 😀

Documents To Go? (for your desktop) – companion to the Treo version, the port needed to get those Office files on the Palm PDA

eReader – Sorry, this screen just made me giggle. 😉

MobiTV for Treo – another TV application for the Treo! Honestly! How many people are watching TV on their PDA Phones? Enquiring minds want to know!

Palm – Files
Remote File Access
Traffic for Treo – smartphones
Treo – VoiceDialing

Omigosh – are you still here? You made it though all of the screen shots? Then I guess you are looking for my conclusion…

So, what do I think of the Treo 700p? I’m actually pretty impressed with the hardware,?even though the Palm software hasn’t changed much in the time since I’ve been gone. In some ways it’s like saying hello to an old friend, but in other ways it’s like realizing that you have grown and your friend hasn’t; it’s a little bitter-sweet. The Treo hardware is completely solid, I liked it immediately the moment I unboxed the Treo, which was quite a contrast from the reaction I had to the Motorola Q. Now, I recognize that I ragged the Q for not having WiFi, and I have ragged other devices for the same in the past; I guess I must be mellowing out – because it really wasn’t a problem not having access. I will add it as an improvement item just to stay consistent, but with an all you can eat data plan on a CDMA phone, WiFi will probably not be missed. I make the CDMA distinction, because if you travel overseas and don’t have WiFi, it is a big deal. Data plans can be outrageous on different carriers, and WiFi is necessary. But this particular model of the Treo won’t even work overseas, so it is a moot point.

Overall, this is a PDA phone that I would recommend to anyone that needs to stay connected via SMS, email or voice calls throughout the day. Having the addition of Office documents, good books to read, games to play, PDA TV for those of you that watch it…and all the other available add-on applications that come with a well-established operating system makes the Treo 700p a winner. What’s even better is that Sprint users who prefer the Windows Mobile 5 operating system can also share in the Treo love by getting a Palm Treo 700wx. Choices are a lovely thing. 🙂

The Palm Treo 700p is available directly from the manufacturer as well as from other retailers.
MSRP: $649 / much lower with new service plan incentives
What I Like: Rock solid design, good keyboard, beautiful 320 x 320 screen, EvDO speeds, Bluetooth, feels great in hand, comfortable to use as a phone
What Needs Improvement: No WiFi (yeah, I’m mentioning it anyway), battery compartment door is flimsy


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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.

2 Comments on "The Palm Treo 700p Palm OS Smartphone Review"

  1. Great review!! The software section really reinforced my view that the Palm OS is old and too simple in today’s market. Having just received the Treo 750v myself, I am so glad it is running the latest Windows Mobile 5, which just feel like a better operating system, and has much more potential that the tiring Palm OS

    It is interesting to note the subtle changes that the design has undergone since the introduction of the Treo 600. The layout of your 700p is very similar my 750v, and I totally agree that the design is fantastic. It can be used both one handed for both navigation and data entry, whilst still excelling at two handed text entry, and stylus navigation. One thing I have noticed however is that the keyboard colour on the 750v is inverted to that of the 700p. All the keys are black except for the numeric keys which are white.

  2. T39andcounting | December 4, 2006 at 10:03 am |

    The threaded SMS is one of the main reasons I’ve stuck with Treos. I’m not a huge texter, but it just makes life so much easier! If there are any windows mobile apps that do this, please let me know!

    I’d also recommend ChatterEmail to replace VersaMail on the Palm O/S. It’s a great app that’s got some great support, and is a lot more versatile than VersaMail, especially if you have multiple email accounts.

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