Editors' note: The ratings of this review have change since the original publish date, due to new products out in the market.
While not the best-kept secret in the technology world, with leaked photos and videos all over the Net, we were still amped over Palm's official unveiling of the Palm Treo Pro. And why wouldn't we be? The smartphone looked pretty sharp, both inside and out. However, now that we've had some hands-on time with the device, our initial excitement is starting to fade. Don't get us wrong; there is plenty to like about the Treo Pro. Keyboard aside, we really like the updated and attractive design of the smartphone. It's sexy and is the sleekest touch screen/full QWERTY combination, in our opinion. The Treo Pro certainly isn't lacking in the features department either. The business-centric mobile comes loaded with Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition and the full gamut of wireless options, including HSDPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. Now, while this is well and good, at this point, Palm is simply playing catch up to the competition. Add the fact that, for the time being, Palm is only selling the Treo Pro as an unlocked phone for a whopping $549, and we have a problem. While we understand the freedom of an unlocked phone, we just don't see anything that really justifies such a high price tag. It's unfortunate since it's a generally solid device, but we think you can get comparable smartphones for less. Palm did not release a specific release date but it's expected to be available later this fall.
The Palm Treo Pro represents a complete redesign for the Treo line, and it's most definitely welcome. The Treo Pro completely sheds the outdated, clunky design of previous models and trades it in for a sleeker frame, measuring 4.4 inches high by 2.3 inches wide by 0.5 inch deep and 4.7 ounces. When compared with the recent Palm Treo 800w, which measures 4.4 inches high by 2.2 inches wide by 0.7 inch deep and weighs 5 ounces, the numbers might not that seem that significant, but in hand, you can notice the difference, especially in thinness. You should be able to slip the Treo Pro into a pants pocket with no problem, and it's still the only smartphone we can think of that successfully combines a full QWERTY keyboard and touch screen into one sleek device. The eye-catching black lacquer casing is icing on the cake, but it does have a tendency to hold smudges.
The Treo Pro features a 2.5-inch TFT touch screen with a 320x320-pixel resolution that makes for a fairly bright, crisp screen, though we thought colors looked a bit washed out. The Today Screen gives you one-touch access to your wireless options, upcoming appointments, e-mail, and Google search, and you can customize the Today screen with various background images and themes. The Treo Pro also introduces a new screensaver that will show you the time, any missed calls, or new text/multimedia messages at a glance. It's a small but convenient enhancement.
Below the display, you'll find a redesigned navigation array. You get the standard soft keys, Talk and End buttons, an OK button, shortcuts to the Start menu, Calendar, and Inbox, and a navigation toggle with a center select key. The latter will also flash when you have voice mail. Overall, the controls are fairly easy to use. The shortcut keys are set flush with the phone's surface, and we were initially concerned that they might be hard to press, but this really wasn't the case.
Unfortunately, we did find some issues with the full QWERTY keyboard. The Treo Pro's keyboard is pretty much the same one found on the Palm Centro. There's a tad more spacing between the buttons than the Centro, but it's still fairly cramped. I have small hands and had problems using the keyboard, so I would imagine it will give users with larger thumbs some difficulty. We also think that the keyboard doesn't really suit the smartphone. The Palm Treo Pro is designed for business users, and while the cute, gelatinous buttons might be OK for the consumer-centric Centro, it looks a bit unprofessional and childlike on the Treo Pro. We would have preferred the hard buttons from previous Treos.
On the left spine, there's a volume rocker and a customizable side key, while the right side has a Wi-Fi power button. The top of the unit has a power button and silent ringer switch. A microUSB port and 3.5 headphone jack are located on the bottom. Finally, the camera lens (sans flash or self-portrait mirror) and a side speaker are on the back, and a microSD expansion slot is hidden behind the battery cover.
The packaging and accessories included with the Palm Treo Pro are worth a mention. First, Palm is doing its part to help the environment by shipping the Treo Pro in a recyclable box and other recycled material. The user manuals are printed with soy ink, and the software CD (containing ActiveSync and more) is now preinstalled on the smartphone. You should be able to simply connect the device to your computer via USB cable, and access the content or install ActiveSync. As for the actual accessories, Palm revamped the power charger that lets you swap out the adapters and improved earbuds. In all, the Palm Treo Pro comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a wired stereo headset, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
The Palm Treo Pro marks a great advance for the Treo line, but when compared with the competition, it doesn't offer anything revolutionary. It's simply playing catch up. As the name would suggest, the Palm Treo Pro is designed for mobile professionals and is an evolution for the Treo line, but doesn't offer any revolutionary features. The smartphone runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition, complete with the full Microsoft Office Mobile Suite for editing native Word and Excel documents, and viewing PowerPoint presentations. In addition, Palm ships the Treo Pro with Internet Explorer Mobile, Windows Live integration, OneNote Mobile, a PDF reader, and the WorldMate Pro travel suite to help globetrotters stay on track. Other productivity applications include a voice recorder, a Zip manager, Sprite Backup, a calculator, and a Task Manager to help optimize CPU and memory usage. The Treo Pro comes with 128MB RAM and 256MB storage (about 100MB of it is user accessible).