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Palm Treo 800w

Windows Mobile 6.1-based Treo for Sprint's EV-DO Rev. A network

Assembled and edited by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer

On July 14, 2008, Palm and Sprint introduced the Palm Treo 800w to be used with Sprint. Palm's newest smartphone uses Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional and was primarily designed for business users who expect their smartphones to have high-speed internet access for maximum productivity on the go. The Palm Treo 800w uses Sprint's Mobile Broadband Network which supports EV-DO Rev. A data speeds, WiFi for data and GPS capabilities.

Palm feels that the Treo 800w is their most business-friendly phone yet. The basis for that belief is that deploying the Windows-based Treo 800w lets IT departments simplify infrastructure and lower costs with a direct connection to Microsoft Exchange Server, giving users email, contacts, calendars and access to a wealth of familiar productivity applications.

The Treo 800w—which measures 4.4 x 2.2 inches, is 0.7 inch thick, and weighs 5 ounces—continues the original Treo design that places a full QWERTY thumb-type keyboard below a square 320 x 320 pixel display. You also find the ever popular five-way navigation disc and one-touch buttons to the most often used applications. There is 256MB of user memory of which about 170MB is actually available to users. There is also 128MB of program memory. The removable 1150 mAH Li-Ion battery has up o 4.5 hours of talk time. Palm lists a 2-megapixel camera (oddly listed as capable of 1280 x 1024 pixel pics; which is only 1.3 mp) that can also do video. A micoSD slot offers memory expansion. The whole thing is powered by a Qualcomm MSM6800A chipset.

These days, whatever new devices we get are all married to some telco and pesky 2-year service contract, and the Treo 800w is no different. It is the first smartphone to ship with Sprint EV-DO Rev. A network support and thus lets you quickly browse the web and send and receive emails - even those with large attachments - at broadband speeds. Sprint claims its Mobile Broadband Network has been upgraded to EV-DO Rev. and is the nation's largest mobile broadband network based on covered square miles, reaching (inclusive of data roaming) almost 246 million people, over 16,000 cities and over 1,500 airports. According to Sprint, EV-DO Rev. A, peak network download data rates are now up to 3.1 Mbps and peak upload data rates have been increased to 1.8 Mbps. Average download speeds are said to have improved to 600 kbps to 1.4 mbps and average uplink speeds have been increased to 350-500 kbps.

Like with prior Palms, there's an emphasis on ease of use. There is, for example, a one-touch WiFi button that makes getting on wireless networks easy, be it at home, in the office or in WiFi hotspots. While the Treo 800w runs Windows Mobile 6.1, the device does have a number of Palm-specific software enhancements. You can use the integrated GPS in conjunction with onboard maps, to get point-to-point directions, and you can do and point-of-interest (POI) searches for locations such as restaurants, stores and many others. POI searching is available directly from the Today screen and is also integrated with contacts, which means you have one-touch access to places you may want to go. Using the Sprint network, Treo 800w users can also opt for Sprint's own Navigation for turn-by-turn directions as well as a slow of third-party location-based services and applications.

Companies considering the Treo 800w will appreciate that the device connects directly with Exchange Server 2003 SP2 or 2007 and thus works within a company's existing Microsoft infrastructure; no need for other middleware or maintaining additional servers. While in the past Palm always stressed its large advantaage as far as the number of business apps goes, fact is things have changed and access to the thousands of applications available for Windows Mobile can be a substantial advantage. Microsoft Direct Push Technology is available out of the box and gives users connected to a Microsoft Exchange Server fast, automatic wireless updates from their email, calendar, contacts and tasks. Users can download email attachments to view and edit Microsoft Word and Excel files, view PowerPoint and PDF files, and open ZIP files. The Treo 800w is also compatible with Microsoft's System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 that delivers increased security and easier smartphone management as well as access to information on the corporate network via mobile VPN.

In addition to Palm's WiFi and GPS enhancements, Palm innovations on top of Windows Mobile include:

  • Today Screen enhancements -- call, text, email, perform a web search and map a contact's address, all directly from the Today Screen;
  • Dial from the Today Screen -- enter the contact name, select the number and dial. Add text or picture speed dials for one-touch calls to family and friends, or use the physical or touch screen number keys to dial the number directly;
  • Voicemail controls -- VCR-like icons, such as rewind, delete and fast-forward, for easy navigation (thanks, Apple!);
  • Ignore with text -- ignore a call quickly by sending a text message, such as "In a meeting" or "Can't talk right now";
  • Superior phone and call management -- dedicated mute, speakerphone, conference calling icons, or dial any number in an email or webpage, all with just one touch; and
  • Palm ease-of-use features -- hard buttons for email and calendar, a five-way navigation button and on/off ringer switch.
If all of that is not enough, Treo 800w owners may opt to purchase some of Sprint's content and services such as Sprint TV, Sprint Navigation, Pocket Express, or Sprint instant messaging.

The Treo 800w is available as of July 15, 2008 from Sprint Stores, online at or, and through Sprint or Palm's B2B sales organizations. It costs $249.99 after discounts and rebates with a two-year contract. Rate plans range from Everything plans for individuals ranging from $69.99 per month for 450 voice minutes and unlimited data to the Talk/Message/Data Share plans for families starting at $129.99 per month for 1,500 voice minutes (shared between two lines) and unlimited data. Sprint also has a "Simply Everything" plan with unlimited nationwide voice and data services for $99.99 per month. Or Treo cutomers can sign up for one of Sprint's Individual Talk Plans and then add on the $30 per month Pro Pack for data capabilities.

-- Conrad Blickenstorfer