September 01, 2004

New Treo Ace/Treo 650 Sneak Peeks

Looks like the new Treo is coming 'round the corner, since it's showing up on a number of geeks and gadget sites, and I've included all the links I've seen so far:

Both Gizmodo and Engadget have posted numerous photos and advance details of the upcoming Treo from PalmOne. If the information is accurate, the new Palm is not the 610 as was rumored previously, but will be monikered the Treo 650.

Per Engadget, it's supposed to have "built-in Bluetooth, a faster 312MHz processor, 32MB of RAM, a higher-resolution 320x320 LCD screen, dedicated answer and disconnect buttons, and a one megapixel digital camera...A few other details we’re noticing: a removable battery, a mirror next to the camera lens for taking self-portraits, a definite Bluetooth icon on one of the screens, a bigger speaker, and a more recessed SD memory card slot. Possibly also push-to-talk." From Gizmodo, "Looks like no Treo 600 peripherals will work with the 650, either."

Slashdot naturally has a thread on this as well, linking back to the MobileMag posting of the 650.

While the recent Tungsten T5 sneak peek photo turned up as a fake, the Treo intel so far looks promising. I came close to getting the 600 earlier this year, but there were several shortcomings that the rumored nextgen Treo would address, so I held off for a few months, during which time I moved, so I'm now also looking into a new cell provider. My problem is that even with a 1.x megapixel camera, it's a liability, particularly in more restrictive corporate and legal environments. Sprint eventually offered a camera-less version of the 600 just for us corporate types. So now I'm wondering if/when they'll offer the same for the 650, because this is pretty much the one for which I've been waiting.

The removable battery feature, if accurate, has long been on my wish list as I fully expect the Treo's charge wouldn't last a full business day with my heavy use (phone, messaging, web access, extended eBook reading and games during flights, etc.).

One thing I haven't seen listed so far is whether the 650 will be capable of Wi-Fi, either via built-in or an optional SDIO card. The problem with the Treo 600 is that its internal power system was not robust enough to support the higher power requirements of the Wi-Fi SDIO cards being developed. Granted, a Treo user has the cell-based data network, and stripped down e-mail and web sites load fairly quickly. However, it's still nowhere near the broadband speeds offered via Wi-Fi, and as a mobile user, I always prefer to have additional Internet access options. One of the challenges has always been the battery life hit due to the Wi-Fi card draw, which has spawned development of less power-hungry Wi-Fi chipsets. So we'll see if palmOne will offer this feature in some capacity -- it's apparently slated to release its Wi-Fi SDIO card for the Zire 72 and Tungsten T3 handhelds on September 3rd. It appears SanDisk finally came out of vaporware status not all that long ago with its long-anticipated Wi-Fi card for the Zire 71.

Note the quote from the Palm Boulevard link: "At the time of the announcement, SandDisk said the SD card required a software patch to be compatible with the Tungsten T3 and Zire 72, but it couldn't offer the patch itself—the patch had to come from palmOne. The handheld company, however, didn't seem to be any hurry to create one. Now we know why." I doubt the Treo 650 will have built-in Wi-Fi, so the big question here is whether palmOne's new Wi-Fi card will work in the Treo 650. If the power system remained the same as the 600, the answer should be no.

Regardless, the new 650 looks to be one hot multipurpose device, and definitely the one to beat from what I've seen so far.

Topic(s):   Mobile Tech & Gadgets
Posted by Jeff Beard