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Handspring Treo 180

Preview: New PDA/Phone line includes keyboard

by Shawn Barnett

October 15, 2001, 12:00AM

Expected to be available in the first half of 2002 is Handspring's new wireless platform, with a long list of firsts. The Treo 180 in particular will be their first dedicated entry into the wireless space, the first phone with a full keyboard, and the first Palm OS device to be offered without a Graffiti-input area. Yes, the team of Hawkins, Dubinsky, and Colligan who brought us Graffiti on the original Pilot will be the first to offer a Palm OS product without it.

There will actually be two versions in the Treo line, the Treo 180, shown below, with a RIM-like keyboard, and the Treo 180g, with a standard Graffiti area. Handspring is expecting the keyboard model to be the more popular one, but it remains to be seen which model native Graffiti users will prefer.

Of primary importance is to get the idea that this is not a Visor, but an entirely new product line. As such, it has no Springboard slot. Those familiar with a VisorPhone will find many things the same, like the volume and power buttons on the top and many of the dialing screens, but there's a lot that's new. The flip lid is stocky, housing the earpiece speaker and a clear screen protector.

The keyboard model employs an advanced name lookup feature. You just flip the lid open and begin typing--either the first name or the last name, or even the company name--and the dailer quickly begins narrowing your choices from your Address Book. You can also dial the number with the onscreen keypad or the keypad embedded into the keyboard, accessed by pressing the blue function key. The ToDo and Memo Pad buttons have been replaced with the Blazer browser and SMS buttons for quick access to these powerful wireless features. The Treos will run on the GSM network, have 16MB RAM and run on the 33MHz Dragonball VZ chip. Initially only the monochrome version will be available, followed by the color model a few months later. A promising and handsome product line.

-Shawn Barnett

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