Treo 800w Review

Treo 800w Review

It’s hard to believe that we haven’t seen a new Windows Mobile powered Treo from Palm since January of 2007. During that time, we’ve seen evolutionary changes to the Palm OS based Treo and a repackaging of the Palm OS in the “built for fun” Centro smartphone. The Treo brand has long been the flagship for Palm, but in the past year the Centro has been front and center. While the Centro is certainly a capable, value-based smartphone, it does lack the fit and finish of the higher end Treo series of smartphones. It seems that Everything Treo, along with most other tech blogs, have been talking about the Treo 800w for quite some time. So here it is, how does it stack up in this new era of smartphones and do the new features make the Treo 800w a worthwhile upgrade? Read on for our take on the new Treo 800w.

Palm Treo 800w review

Palm Treo 800w

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Palm Treo 800w

Volume buttons and side button that can be mapped to any app


Like any Windows Mobile device, the Treo 800w offers a host of features. From the Today screen, you can either dial a number directly or start typing the name of a particular contact that you’d like to call and the Treo 800w will automatically search both first and last names providing you with a convenient list of filtered contacts making it easy to place your call. You also have easy access to an old fashioned dialing pad. The dial pad is responsive and numbers will also “flash” orange when you select them. Call quality was great and volume was more than adequate. It’s not as loud as a Motorola Q, but few phones can match Motorola’s prowess when it comes to phone call quality. Pressing the green “call” button will also provide access to recently dialed numbers, or access to either the dial pad or call log. The call log offers duration of calls and the ability to filter based upon your selection (Missed, Outgoing, Incoming). Once in a call, it was easy enough to switch to speakerphone or put a call on hold. The Treo 800w does a fantastic job of integrating your contacts, managing your calls and making your phone work for you. You’d be hardpressed to find a smartphone that offers robust call management features in line with the Treo 800w.

Palm Treo 800w today

Palm’s Today screen offers a wealth of options

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Palm Treo 800w vs Treo 700

The Treo 800w is significantly slimmer than the Treo 700 series

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From a usability perspective, Windows Mobile can be a daunting operating system for some. Out of the box, the operating system does little to welcome the user. Thankfully, Palm acts as an intermediary between the OS and the end user. Palm’s software tweaks make the operating system more approachable and in general they just make things easier to use.

Treo 800w sideview

The Treo 800w features a microUSB and IR port (great for Real Estate professionals)

You’ll notice the familiar “chat-style” interface that chronicle conversations or SMS messages with colleagues or friends. This makes it easier to manage your messaging and will please Palm OS converts who are making the jump to Windows Mobile. The Today screen is where most users will spend their time and for good reason. For those familiar with previous Windows Mobile based Treo smartphones, the Today screen was developed by Palm. If for some reason you find yourself lost while navigating through Windows, pressing the red power button and you’ll be escorted to the familiar and friendly confines of the Today screen. If you break it down, here’s what you can do from the Today screen:

  1. Search contacts by first, last or company name.
  2. Search for POI’s either near your current location or enter a specific location
  3. View number of unread messages and access your email
  4. View number of unread text messages and access your messages.
  5. Search the internet using Microsoft’s Live Search.
  6. View upcoming appointments
  7. Access GPS, Internet Sharing and Bluetooth settings

GPS on Treo 800w

GPS on the Treo 800w will retreive locations near you

This is just from the Today screen and only a part of what Palm brings to a Windows Mobile device. The features alone do not make this device a Treo, it’s the tight integration of the Today screen with the OS that makes it a power users best friend.

There are also small, yet useful enhancements. For example, phone numbers that appear in web pages or an email can be dialed by tapping on the screen.

There is a small switch at the top of the Treo 800w which allows you to switch from ringing to vibrate mode. Having a physical switch is not only easier, but more efficient than devices that require you make the change in the OS. If you have to jump into an improptu meeting, you can switch the ringer to vibrate mode without removing the Treo from it’s case or holster (which unfortunately is not included).


There are two new features that debut with the Treo 800w: GPS and WiFi. First up is GPS. The Treo 800w is built for business. Having done my fair share of business travel, there is certainly a need to find local eateries, ATM’s and directions to those locations. From the Today screen, I was able to search for ‘pizza’ near my location. Within seconds, I had a very accurate list of pizzeria’s near my location. You can view the POI’s in either map view or list view. Need to call before hand for reservations, the Treo 800w provides the option to call the phone number. Need directions? Selecting Drive To… launches Sprint Navigation, a 3D turn-by-turn route guidance software that comes bundled with the Treo 800w. You won’t find it compares with a high end Garmin, but overall it’s very good and it’s built into your phone. It took sometime for Palm to build in GPS and they have done a very good job of bringing it all together. Instead of just adding a feature, Palm has taken it once step further and made the GPS an easy to use feature.

GPS search on Treo 800w

The GPS on the Treo 800w allows you to search for POI’s near your current location.
GPS on Treo 800w

3D navigation on Treo 800w

The Treo 800w offers 3D navigation and real time route guidance

Sprint Navigation on Treo 800w

Sprint Navigation on Treo 800w


Any wireless service can be spotty and at times frustrating. For many WiFi helps fill in the gaps and the Treo 800w represents the first Treo to offer WiFi. At the top of the Treo 800w is a dedicated WiFi button. Once you’ve configured the Treo 800w to a WiFi network, the once touch WiFi button turns the feature on/off. An ascending on descending tone will confirm your choice. The addition of a one-touch WiFi access is a surprisingly nice touch and one I didn’t see coming.

Ringer switch and WiFi on Treo 800w

Treo 800w has dedicated WiFi button and ringer switch


The Treo 800w takes some design cues from the Centro and merges them with the Treo 750. The overall build quality is excellent and that’s always been the mark of a Palm’s Treo series. It’s hard to put into words, but the device just feels like care when into the design and construction. Typing on the QWERTY keyboard is fast and offers responsive tactile reinforcement that resulted in error free typing. One surprising mistep was the included stylus. It’s lightweight, but that’s about it. Quite honestly, it’s not usable and you can plan on purchasing a suitable replacement once they become available. With a device that is so well constructed, I cannot understand how or why this stylus design was chosen.

Treo 800w keyboard

Keyboard on Treo 800w is reminiscent of Treo 750, but does take some design cues from the Centro

Also new with this Treo is the inclusion of a microUSB, which replaces the old Palm multiconnector. Despite the need for new Treo 800w accessories, this is a welcome change and has become a bit of a standard on smartphones including RIM’s BlackBerry devices. Palm includes a sync cable, but I’d certainly recommend a car charger. With a smaller device comes a smaller battery. I used the vast array of features on the Treo 800w and the battery lasted until early evening. Granted I used Navigation, Sprint TV and WiFi, but be prepared for less than stellar battery life when using those features. If your day to day consists of calls, productivity apps and email, the battery should be more than suitable. If you plan on taking advantage of everything the Treo 800w has to offer, you might want to consider carrying a spare battery or have access to some method of charing. Removable media on the Treo 800w changes to the smaller microSD. While a more expensive memory expansion, it no doubt contributed to Palm’s ability to slim down the Treo 800w.

Treo 800w microUSB

Treo 800w loses the old multiconnector for a microUSB connector

Software Bundle

Here you’ll find familiar programs from Office Mobile to Instant Messaging which allows you to access AIM, MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. One noteworthy addition is Sprite Backup, a third party application valued at $29.95 that comes standard on the Treo 800w. Sprite allows you to easily back up all of your critical data and easily restore it should the need arise.

One great thing about Sprint carrying the Treo 800w is the inclusion of Sprint TV, a service that allows you watch live television on the Treo. The standard package offers a nice selection of programming, with premium offerings also available. In our tests, the Treo 800w accessed Sprint TV in no time and there were zero buffering issues. If you don’t currently own a Slingbox, SprintTV is the next best thing and it’s included. Thumbs up!

Sprint TV

Sprint TV offers a number of channels on the Treo 800w allowing you to watch live TV.

Sprint TV E! on Treo 800w

Sprint TV E! on Treo 800w

IM on Treo 800w

Yahoo, AIM and MSN Messenger are all included.

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With changing standards (ie. 320×320 resolution screen), comes heartache that some applications will not be compatible with the Treo 800w. When a major manufacturer such as Palm releases a new phone, you can expect developers to get on board. I certainly advise readers to contact developers if there is a particular app that you must use on the device. Expect developers to adapt to the new display, which was hardly a secret.


The Treo 800w retails for $599, but after rebates and a 2-year agreement, the price drops to $249. While it would be nice to see it fall below the $200 plateu, it’s certainly understandable given the feature set and bundled software package.


The Treo 800w represents the complete package offering WiFi, GPS, support for EVDO- REV A. and Windows Mobile 6.1. When you consider the included software bundle (Sprint Navigation, Maps, Sprite Backup, Sprint TV, Office Mobile), it’s easy enough to justify the price point. Battery life could have been better and the included stylus was not in keeping with the overall good build quality of the Treo 800w. The 320×320 resolution was a bonus when reading Office docs and you can expect major developers to provide updates that are compatible with the new device. Overall, I found the Treo 800w to be a peppy, full-featured Treo that represents an nice evolutionary move from the Treo 750. Palm has once again proved they understand how people use their phones and delivered a powerful, yet easy to use smart device in the Treo 800w.

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