Treo 680 Review Hardware and Form Factor

Treo 680 Review: Hardware and Form Factor

December 4, 2006

3 of 5
By: Christopher Meinck

Form Factor

There are some exciting changes with the Treo 680 when it comes to form factor. Gone is the antenna stub and Palm has replaced this with an internal antenna that boasts improved reception from its predecessor. I found no issues with coverage and regularly noticed a full compliment of bars. This is also relative to your geographic area, so its recommended you check a Cingular Wireless coverage map in your area.

Treo 680 top pic

If you were to do a quick visual inspection of the Treo 680 or view images online, it would be difficult to ascertain the difference in size compared to previous models. When compared to the Treo 650 and Treo 700p, it feels much smaller. While Palm did not make drastic changes, they did concentrate on changes that would affect the feel of the phone. The left and right side of the back of the 680 are flatter versus the curved back of the 700p/650.

Treo 680 curved back

Additionally, the sides also curve inward. The combination makes for a smartphone that feels good in your hand and allows you to get a good grip. The Treo 680 also felt much lighter than the 700p. A quick check of the specifications confirmed this assumption. The Treo 680 weighs in at 5.5 ounces versus 6.4 ounces for the 700p. The Motorola Q, clearly a smartphone that will compete with the Treo 680, weighs just 4.06 ounces. Palm representatives pointed out that while competing phones might be slimmer and lighter, they do not offer touch screen or the battery life of the Treo 680.

Treo vs Motorola Q

SD Card

The SD slot is now internalized on the 680. Having lost my SD card in the past, this was a welcome addition. Many use the SD card to store critical documents, applications and files. Not only does this look better than having the SD card protrude from the top of the Treo, but will also provide a sense of security when it comes to critical documents. Access to this slot is easy, so users with who swap multiple SD cards should not have any difficulty.

Treo 680 SD Card


The Palm Treo 680 comes with a QWERTY keyboard. The keys are bigger than the Treo 650 and similar in size to the more recent Treo 700p. If you are familiar with Treos, youll know that when typing, youll hear a click that provides a tactical verification youve correctly struck the key. The Treo 680 I tested had a softer response than I have grown accustomed to and prefer the 700p.

Treo 680 vs Treo 700p keyboard

The Treo 680 shares the same button layout as the 700p. From a manufacturing perspective, the 700p has 4 distinctly separate buttons, whereas the 680 uses two buttons each separated by a divot allowing you to select either Phone/Calendar or Email/Application Launcher. The Treo 680 has dedicated call/answer and hang-up buttons making it easy to answer or end calls.

Treo keyboard pic


With its 320×320 screen, the Treo 680 makes for a perfect multimedia phone. Using the free TCPMP or commercial version CorePlayer, the large screen and high resolution make it perfect movie player when traveling. Photos look vivid on the Treo 680. With the new Phone application, Id be more apt to use wallpaper than in the past. With previous Treos, I have chosen nto to use the wallpaper feature since I prefer to have quick access to the dialer. With the Treo 680, I get the best of both worlds. I can display my wallpaper and easily access the dialer. There is also a new option that allows you to fade the picture using the slider. I though this might provide useful if you had calendar events, but to the contrary it doesnt affect calendar events. The Treo 680 automatically lowers the opacity where events are listed. I found the new feature, well nothing more than new. I kept the setting at 0. I did notice the screen as bumpy while running the stylus back and forth to change the slider. This could be a manufacturing defect in the particular Treo I reviewed. It functioned perfectly, but the 700p and Treo 650 both provided smooth sliding of the stylus on the screen.

Treo screen review

I found the Treo 680 screen provided colors that were richer than the Treo 700p. Overall, the screen is sharper and smoother images than previous models. Its an ever so slight difference, but one that is noticeable upon introspection.

The Treo 680 features a touch-screen. Accessing programs and times in the calendar was both fast and accurate. The touch screen is very useful when accessing web pages and more importantly selecting login icons on sites.


The Treo 680 features a VGA camera capable of 640×480 images. I took sample photos of a shed on a cloudy day in New York . The Treo 680 photos were a mixed bag.

Treo 680 Camera
Photo taken with Treo 680

View larger

Treo 700p camera
Photo taken with Treo 700p

View larger

The first image is the Treo 680 image. This is full resolution with no editing. The second photo also is full resolution with no editing and was taken with the 700p.

Treo 680 camera vs 700p

The following photos were not altered, but simply cropped to illustrate the difference in resolution. Portions of the Treo 680 image suffers from severe blurriness.


With support for Bluetooth 1.2, the Treo 680 allows you to connect to a broad range of devices including Bluetooth headsets, GPS receivers and your laptop. During my testing, I was able to easily pair the 680 with a number of devices without any issues.
I was disappointed that Palm has not included support for either stereo Bluetooth headsets or voice dialing via Bluetooth. In fact, while voice dialing is available, outside of a free trial on the CD, its still not included with the Treo 680. The Treo 680 supports Bluetooth DUN (dial-up-networking), but requires a plan from Cingular.

Processor and Memory

The Treo 680 uses the same processor found in the Treo 650 which is an Intel PXA270 312 MHz processor. Although the Treo 700p features the xScale 312mhz processor, as I noted in my Treo 700p review, I didn’t notice any drastic improvements over the 650. The 680 is no different from the Treo 650 when it comes to processing power. I found opening applications and general usage to be fast, responsive and I didnt experience any lag time (an issue with Ive started to notice more frequently on the Treo 700p).

The Treo 680 features almost three times the user accessible memory of the Treo 650. 66MB vs 23MB. For those considering the upgrade, this is a welcome additional allowing you to run applications directly off your Treo versus having using an SD Memory Card.

Continue Treo 680 Review: Phone Functions

Speak Your Mind