Windows Phone Thoughts: Palm's Treo 700w Reviewed: Part 1 (Intro, Background, Hardware)

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Palm's Treo 700w Reviewed: Part 1 (Intro, Background, Hardware)

Posted by Janak Parekh in "HARDWARE" @ 12:30 PM


Tour of the device, continued
Finally, one of the most interesting hardware-enabled features of the 700w is the speaker mute switch on the top of the device (Palm calls it "ringer switch", but it's a true, hardware-based mute). As many of you know, Pocket PC Phone Edition does not have profiles; the Treo 700w doesn't either, except this switch acts like a profile. If it's on the left position, the device behaves like every other Pocket PC Phone. If it's on the right, as pictured, the device's speaker is muted, and by default, rings and notifications vibrate. (You can fully customize vibration behavior, as I'll show later in the review.) For me, this is perfect: 99% of the time, I'll leave it on the silent position, except when I need to put the phone down and walk away from it or need to listen to something on the speaker. The great thing about this is it's a true silent: no games suddenly making noises in your meetings when you forgot to turn the volume off!


Figure 26: The bottom of the Treo 700w.

The good news: the 700w uses the same connector as the 650 and is apparently compatible with all of the cables, chargers, and accessories the 650 is compatible with. The bad news: Palm uses their own lame connector as opposed to something simpler like the XV6700's mini-USB interface, shown in figure 27. :?


Figure 27: The bottom of the Treo 700w compared to the XV6700.

The headphone jack, incidentally, is a 3-conductor 2.5mm jack like most other Pocket PC Phone Edition devices; it accepts both the included earbuds and standard 2.5mm wired headsets. Pocket PC Techs (and other vendors, presumably) sell adapters to allow you to adapt this jack to 3.5mm headphones; I discuss this later in the review.

Finally, the rightmost holes are the microphone; its positioning enables convenient phone and speakerphone use.


Figure 28: The back of the 700w.

The backside of the 700w is rather simple. The stylus is on the left; it's a standard-fare PDA stylus. The tip is a little bit bigger than I'd like, but it's not a major issue. The good news is that it's not a telescoping or other awkward stylus, and it's held in the device via simple friction, not some clip that's likely to break. Next to that is the standard-fare cameraphone camera with standard-fare self-picture mirror, and to the right of that are two rubbery covers. I'm guessing there is an antenna jack next to at least one of them, but they're surprisingly hard to remove, so I didn't investigate it further. :oops:

Below the camera is the speakerphone. The speakerphone is of decent quality; I've only tested it in fairly quiet environments, so I can't speak of its use as a handsfree solution in the car; I avoid using the phone whenever driving, and if I must, I use a Bluetooth headset. Since the microphone is on the bottom, it's safe to keep the Palm "face-down" when using the speakerphone.

Finally, below that is the battery cover. I'll open it in a second, but before I do, one complaint: when I first started using this device, this cover creaked. Badly. It was one of those "pick it up and feel it creak" devices. The good news is that after a few weeks' use, it "settled down" and now doesn't creak at all. :)


Figure 29: The back of the 700w, with battery cover removed.

Removing the battery cover yields a few interesting points: the stylus silo is not entirely enclosed, but rather is mostly open. I guess this is a good thing if you're the kind of person that tends to get things stuck in there. ;) Immediately to the right of it is the soft reset button. Why, Palm, why did you have to put the soft reset behind a battery cover? :cry: Actually, it's not terrible, since you can use the stylus to toggle the soft reset, but it's really convenient to have it outside. Finally, we have the battery, which can easily be removed by hooking your thumb on the side right next to the soft reset hole and pulling out the battery. Since the device runs WM5, it's safe to do this if you want to swap batteries. The battery is 1800mAh, and I'll talk about the 700w's battery performance near the end of the review.

And that completes the hardware tour. I know you're all itching to see what Palm's software changes are, but it turns out phpBB can't handle the entire length of this review in one article. 8O Part 2 contains a thorough walk-through of the Palm customizations to WM5, software and multimedia capabilities, and concludes with a look at the performance of the device.

Janak Parekh is finishing up his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Columbia University in the City of New York. When not frantically performing last-minute research experiments or writing ridiculously long PPCT reviews, he can be found catching a baseball game or hanging out in New York City with his friends... and his Treo 700w, of course.

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