Palm’s Treo Pro officially launched last summer in an unlocked version. While it’s a sleek smartphone with plenty of features, the $549 price for the carrier-free unlocked model was simply too high. Now, however, you can get the Treo Pro from Sprint at a much more palatable price of $200 (after rebates, when signing a new service contract).
But Sprint is expected to release the highly-anticipated Palm Pre as soon as next month. So is there any reason to purchase the Treo Pro right now? Maybe.
PROS: Looking at the Treo Pro, it may be hard to remember when the Treo line of smartphones was big and bulky, with stubby antennas. This phone is gorgeous: It has a slick black case and a slim profile that’s slightly wider than but also shorter than an iPhone. You also get a touch screen and a full QWERTY keyboard.
CONS: The 2.5-inch screen feels a bit cramped, and, while you do get the benefit of a hardware QWERTY keyboard, the Treo Pro’s version is not my favorite. The keys are rubbery, which usually make them easier to press, but I found these keys just a bit too small and slippery.
PROS: At 4.7 ounces, the Treo Pro is light enough to hold comfortably during calls. Most of my calls sounded very good, with plenty of volume.
CONS: I sometimes noticed a slight but distracting hiss in the background.
Browsing the Web
PROS: You get support for Sprint's EvDO Rev. A 3G network and Wi-Fi, so you have plenty of options for speedy browsing. Pages loaded quickly in my tests. You also get Internet Explorer Mobile 6, the latest version of Microsoft’s mobile browser. It packs some pretty nifty features, including the ability to switch between desktop and mobile versions of sites, zoom capabilities, and support for Adobe Flash.
CONS: The browser still doesn’t feel as streamlined or as zippy as the iteration of Safari found on the iPhone. The browsing experience simply isn’t as elegant and the 2.5-inch screen feels especially cramped when you’re trying to view an entire Web page.
PROS: The Treo Pro runs Microsoft’s Windows Mobile version 6.1, so you’ve got plenty of software options. The phone comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Office Mobile, so you can view and edit Office documents. You also get a calendar, Adobe Reader, and Pocket Express (which delivers news, sports, weather, and more to your phone), among other apps. And tons of third-party apps are available for download if you don’t see what you like on the Treo Pro.As an added bonus, the Treo Pro includes built-in GPS and the Sprint Navigation app, which will deliver turn-by-turn directions right to your phone. It does cost $10 per month, though.
CONS: The Treo Pro’s slippery keyboard and relatively small screen really hamper any work you might get done on this phone.
PROS: As a Windows Mobile phone, the Treo Pro includes plenty of e-mail options. It comes with support for Microsoft’s Direct Push technology, which will automatically synchronize your Outlook accounts. You also can set the phone up to directly access POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts, and setup is simple. The phone also comes with a mobile version of the Windows Live Messenger IM client.
CONS: Again, the biggest downsides to the Treo Pro’s messaging features are its small screen and imperfect keyboard.
PROS: The Treo Pro includes a surprising number of multimedia features for such a business-focused phone. It includes the mobile version of Windows Media Player for playing back audio and video files. You also get support for Sprint TV, which allows you to access a variety of videos, and Sprint’s Music Store, which lets you purchase songs right from your phone. The Treo Pro includes a 2-megapixel camera that captures still images and video clips.
CONS: The images and videos I captured with the camera were only so-so; they looked slightly dim and washed out.
If you’re looking for a solid smartphone with plenty of business-friendly features, the Treo Pro is worth checking out. But if you’re in the market for a slick touch-screen phone (and you’re not wedded to the idea of a Windows Mobile device), you might be better served waiting for the Palm Pre. Let’s just hope you’re not left waiting too long.