Treo 680 Review

3 of 5

Great Entry Level Smartphone But No Easy Upgrade Decision For Treo 650 Owners

The Palm Treo 680 is the latest smartphone from Palm and the first to be priced at under $200 (after rebate with a 2-year contract and data plan committment). Announced in October, the new Treo 680 is available through Cingular Wireless or by ordering an unlocked version through Palm. The new Treo is not your typical new Palm Treo. With previous releases, the latest smartphone always offered significant features than the previous generation. This new 680 finds itself nestled in-between the previous GSM based Treo 650 and Treo 700p released in June of this year. Given the price point, its clear that Palm has high hopes for this new Treo as they hope its a “smart” upgrade for feature phone users. For GSM Treo 650 owners who have spent the previous year watching Palm release feature rich CDMA based models (Treo 700w, Treo 700p, Treo 700wx), the decision to upgrade isnt as clear as it might have been with previous generation models. When considering features for the Treo 680, Palm finds itself juggling features in order to keep the price point at below $200 while finding a happy medium making it attractive to new smartphone owners and those considering an upgrade. For those considering an upgrade from a Treo 650, Ive highlighted changes or features of the new Treo 680 that will weigh on your decision. At any time, you can select a particular section of this 6-part review by using the table of contents to your right.

Treo 680 review

What’s In The Box

The Palm Treo 680 used for evaluation is through Cingular Wireless. The Cingular Treo 680 shipped with the following:

  • Palm Treo 680 smart device (do not read too much into the change from smartphone to smart device. This request was made to Palm by Cingular. Apparently, the data pricing plans for smart phone and smart device are different and this was done to avoid confusion amongst their sales staff)
  • Treo 680 Software Installation Guide
  • Travel Charger *not shown in photo
  • USB Sync Cable
  • Wired Headset
  • Getting Started Guide

Note: For a limited time, Palms unlocked Treo 680 comes with a free Mobile Music Pack that includes Yahoo Music Bundle is valued at $135.

Treo 680 unboxed

The Cingular Treo 680, used in this review, comes with the following software preinstalled.

  • Blazer web browser version 4.5
  • Bluetooth Manager version 1.2(W)
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Camcorder
  • Camera
  • Contacts
  • Documents To Go
  • HotSync Manager
  • Memos
  • Messaging
  • MyTreo
  • Phone
  • Pics and Video
  • PocketTunes
  • Quick Tour
  • Security
  • Tasks
  • VersaMail version 3.5.1
  • Voice Memo
  • World Clock

The Treo 680 comes bundled with Palm Blazer and VersaMail or Web and Email. When it comes to rendering pages on a mobile device, Palms Blazer is excellent. Unfortunately, the device only supports EDGE. With the Treo 700w/p/wx support of EVDO, many were hopeful this new Treo would bring a support for UTMS (GSM version of broadband-like internet connection for mobile users). Apparently, the Palm OS could not support UTMS, providing yet another reason why this OS desperately needs to be upgraded. When the Windows Mobile powered Treo 750 arrives, it’s expected it will support the UTMS. Palm has promised faster browsing on the Treo 680 compared to the Treo 650 due to

smart caching

. When compared to the EVDO based Treo 700p, the Treo 680 is significantly slower in accessing web pages and downloading email messages.

Treo 680 vs Treo 700p speed test

In this chart, shorter is better and indicates a faster download time. The Treo 680 exceed the time limit of the 1mb test and therefore were not included. Tests were done using DSLReports mobile test. While not extensive, it clearly shows the vast difference in speed of an EVDO capable Treo vs Cingular’s EDGE network.

Treo 680 speed test

Streaming Media


The Treo 680 comes with Kinoma Player in the ROM. While its not listed in the applications, Kinoma Player will assist with streaming media. I tested the Treo 680s streaming capabilities on and had only one buffering issue during a 10 minute listening session of the Bone Yard. The Treo 680 proved its metal while listening to metal.

Email and Messaging


The Palm Treo 680 is the perfect companion to a person who is an active text messenger. If moving from a feature phone, youll rejoice at finding the chat-style discussions in Palms text messaging application. Lets say you are having a discussion with a friend that spans 20 messages. Later that day, you have exchange 10 messages with a different friend. Palm encapsulates this into what looks like an AOL IM chat session. When you select a particular friend, youll see the conversation. This chat-style or whats also know as threaded SMS cannot be found in the Treo 700w/wx, much to the chagrin of those who have upgraded from a Treo 650. For text messaging, it doesnt get better than Palms Messaging application that comes standard with the Treo 680.

Text messaging on Treo 680

Palm has made it easier to address recipients when text messaging. When you type the first few letters, the Treo 680 will bring up a list from your contacts. This of course adds to the ease of use when typing a message to a friend. Its much easier to type a message to Tricia, then have to remember the related phone number.

Email Using VersaMail


VersaMail has been upgraded to version 3.5. As Ive noted in my Treo 700p Review, Ive been using SnapperMail for the past 4 years so it was difficult for me to discern any major changes to VersaMail outside of a new Alerts feature allowing you to select ringtones for your alerts. VersaMail has also changed its name to simply Email. Email aka VersaMail is sufficient for most users. Those looking for more extensive features can look to either SnapperMail or Chatteremail.


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