Treo 680 Hands On Preview

Treo 680 Hands On Preview

November 22, 2006

By: Christopher Meinck

Prior to our comprehensive review, here is our hands-on preview to offer some insight into the new Palm Treo 680 smart device from Cingular Wireless.

Treo 680 Preview

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Whats New From The Treo 650

From my perspective, there are a few main differences that Treo 650 owners looking to upgrade should consider when making their decision. For this hands-on preview, I hope to provide you with a quick overview of these features and how they will impact your decision to upgrade.


At first glance, most wont notice any major differences in the size of the new Treo. You will notice the lack of an external antenna, but looking at photographs or a simple visual inspection will probably leave you wondering if there is any size difference between previous generation Treo smartphones and the new Treo 680. The proof is in holding the new Treo 680 versus the Treo 650 or 700p/w for that matter. The ergonomics of the wider casing coupled with the curved shell on the back give it a very natural feel. The sides also curve inward making it easy to clutch the Treo with your middle finger and thumb. The Treo 680 is flatter and wider than other Treos. I also found it to be noticeably lighter compared to current 700p/w/wx series smartphones and the Treo 650.

Quicktake: Smaller, lighter and good overall feel.

Treo 680 sideview

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Phone Application

As an avid web person, my life changed drastically when tabbed browsing was introduced. Its quite normal for me to have 5 or 6 websites open and tabs allowed me to be more organized. Palms borrows this concept with the introduction of a new Phone application found on the Treo 680. I found it to be one of those simple concepts that makes you think, Such a simple, yet great way to improve upon the phone application. Phil McClendon of Palm said the Phone app has now become 5 applications wrapped into one. Heres the breakdown:

Treo 680 Favorites

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  • Tab 1: Dialer
  • Tab 2: Favorites
  • Tab 3: Phone or Wallpaper
  • Tab 4: Contacts
  • Tab 5: Call Log

Quicktake: This is a vast improvement and a very nice implementation. Those familiar with the Palm OS will attest to its simplicity and ease of use. This new Phone application is a prime example of how Palm continues to innovate. Existing Treo owners will love the integration of contacts, ability to cycle through the tabs. New owners will find the Treo 680 easy to use and will probably use the 5-way navigator exclusively to access their favorite applications, contacts and of course the dialer.

Treo 680 vs Treo 650

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3x Memory Over Treo 650

The new Treo 680 features 66MB of memory. After installing TeleNav, the Treo still had 63MB of user memory. This allows for more programs to be placed on the device without having to rely on an external media card. With the Treo 650, it was not uncommon for many folks to run out of program memory. This often resulted in having to run applications off an SD memory card and memory issues could cause the Treo 650 to be less stable.

Quicktake: The added memory was needed and is more than sufficient for most end users. SD Memory cards up to 2GB are supported and still recommend for those looking to add MP3s or for power users to add more applications.

Treo 680 and Treo 650

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Faster Web Access

Palm claims the new Treo 680 has faster web access due to “smart caching”. It ships with Blazer 4.5 which is also on the Treo 700p. The Treo 680 is peppy, but certainly is no match for the Treo 700p and the EVDO network. I was not able to test against a Treo 650. Using, I tested the Treo 680 using the EDGE network to download a 600k document (much larger any normal webpage). The Treo 680 responded at 66kbit per second versus 311kbit per second for the 700p. Download time for the 600k test was 72.295 seconds versus 15.862 seconds for the EVDO capable 700p.

Quicktake: Although not tested, according to Palm you will see a noticeable improvement in web access over the 650. The 700p/w/wx still reign supreme when it comes to fast web access. In general, web access on Treo smartphones still has some way to go and will not replace your laptop or desktop PC. With any smartphone (EDGE or EVDO capable), the experience will improve if you access WAP and mobile friendly websites.

Treo 680 Contacts view

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Pricing and Availability

Cingular will begin offering the Treo 680 (graphite only) starting Friday. It will be available in Cingular retails stores, online and at Prices for the Cingular Treo 680 are as follows:

  • $199 with a two-year contract with Data Connect Unlimited ($44.95 per month)
  • $274.99 with a one-year contract including Data Connect Unlimited
  • $449.99 from Cingular without a contract (note: the unlocked version is less expensive direct through Palm)

Unlocked Version and Colors

If graphite is not your favorite color or you would like to avoid a wireless commitment, Palm offers an unlocked version of the Treo 680 for $399. This allows you to select from the colors Crimson, Graphite, Copper or Arctic White. More importantly, this is an unlocked GSM phone allowing you to use the Treo 680 on virtually any GSM network (standard in Europe. Local wireless carriers include T-Mobile and Cingular).


I plan on spending more time with the Treo 680 and you can expect an comprehensive review in the next week on Everything Treo.

Quicktake: The Treo 680 is an improvement over the Treo 650, yet lacks some of feature upgrades that made the Treo 700p an attractive upgrade option. With it’s feature set, slim size and and attractive price point, the Treo 680 looks poised to become one of the more popular Treo smartphones that will have many feature phone owners venturing into the world of smartphones.

Check back next week for our in-depth review of the new Palm Treo 680. If you have specific questions regarding the device, visit our Treo 680 forums.

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