One of the announcements that created the most buzz at the Consumer Electronic Show this week was the Palm Treo 700w smartphone which was launched in cooperation with Verizon Wireless for their high speed EV-DO wireless service. It’s the first Palm product using the Windows Mobile operating system from Microsoft which is a story in itself (, ). So how did they do? Frankly, it seems to be a mixed bag.
The Treo 700w will undoubtedly, like the Palm OS Treo 650, be one of the most popular smartphones on the market this year. It boasts the extremely popular Treo design and usability married to the power of Windows Mobile 5.0. If you’re a Pocket PC fan who always longed for that Treo look and feel, you may just find yourself in heaven. Palm and Verizon tell us that Verizon will be the only carrier to offer the Treo 700w for the first 6 months.
Sascha Segan at PC Magazine – Palm, Verizon Release Treo 700w :
The Treo 700w looks and feels like Palm’s previous, popular Treo 650 – but it runs Windows Mobile 5.0 with plenty of unique Palm extensions.
Yardena Arar at PC World – First Look at the Palm Treo 700w Smartphone:
The Treo 700w is almost guaranteed to please a growing number of mobile professionals who are tied to Microsoft Exchange Server, and the EvDO support is the icing on the cake. Palm may not have single-handedly solved all the problems of Windows Mobile–it’s still a convoluted operating system that frequently gets tangled up in itself–but the Treo 700w is a credible step in the right direction.
David Pogue at the NY Times – A Marriage Not Made in Heaven:
The first question, in Palm’s case, is: why? The answer is: corporate sales.
For years, Palm has stood by, gnashing its teeth and losing market share, as corporate tech buyers lived and breathed the credo, “Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft.” So maybe, thought Palm, it could join that party by offering its much-admired Treo phone with Microsoft inside.
The second question is: how?
From the beginning, Palm’s and Microsoft’s design philosophies were miles apart. Microsoft lived for long lists of features and 65 different ways to get at them, while Palm strove for simplicity and directness.
How on earth can these two approaches be reconciled?
As it turns out, not very easily. The Treo 700W ($400 with a two-year Verizon commitment) is a Frankensteinian mishmash. Some of its features are so inspired and well executed, you can’t help grinning, while others are so clumsy, you smack your forehead.
Walter Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal – A New Palm Treo Uses Microsoft’s Software, But It Doesn’t Beat 650:
My verdict: Despite some nice new features, the Windows Mobile software is still inferior to the Palm software for one-handed use on the go. Its crucial email and phone functions are also weaker. And there’s a serious bug in its email software that affects individuals, though not corporate users. So the Treo 700w is neither as easy to use nor as powerful as the Treo 650. In addition, the screen on the 700w offers significantly lower resolution than the screen on the 650, and the new model costs twice as much — $400 versus $200.
Treonauts has a detailed review of what’s better and worse about the Treo 700w as compared to the Treo 650.
CNET notes both pluses and minuses as well for an overall rating of 7.6 out of 10.
Trying to sum up these rather different reviews, I’d say that hard core Palm OS fans are going to be disappointed, while Pocket PC and Windows corporate users are going to be enthusiastic.
Update 1/07: There’s another positive review from Wilson Rothman at Time Online:
Overall, the pairing seems to be a good one. Palm is bringing some of the warmth of the Palm OS to the coldly businesslike Windows Mobile platform, and getting a ride to the top of the corporate ladder in the process. My guess is that Palm will sell plenty of these, and that Microsoft will be happy about it.