Treo Pro Review

The Treo Pro was released a few months back to much fanfare and despite a slight delay, I was finally able to get my hands on the latest Palm device and put it through the paces.



The Treo Pro was released in September and unlike previous models it represents a major shift in design and aesthetics.  Jon Rubenstein, the former Apple executive who ran the iPod division, is now playing a key role in the development of new Palm devices. The shift is apparent with the new Treo Pro, a vastly different device than the Treo 800w that just shipped on Sprint in July of this year.

Treo 800w

Out Of Box Experience

The packaging of the Treo Pro is by no surprise very Apple-esque. The entire package is diminutive when compared to other phones on the market, sans the iPhone 3G. Right from the get go, you have a feeling that care went into everything from the product to the packaging. Inside are the standard essentials that ship with most Treo smartphones.

  • Palm Treo Pro unlocked
  • Rechargeable battery
  • AC Phone Charger and assorted adapters
  • USB Cable
  • Stereo heasdset
  • User manual

Gone is the rather large manual in favor of the “Getting Started” guide, which is a bit more robust than a “Quick Start Guide”. The accessories also show an attention to detail, an example of which is the AC charger and USB Cable. They both have round silver circles on the topside and this makes it easier to connect your Treo Pro. These are minor touches, not always found on competing phones (T-Mobile G1), that make life easier.

Hardware and Design

Forgetting about specifications for a moment, the Treo Pro is a beautiful looking phone. It’s constructed of a high gloss black plastic and bears a resemblance to the iPhone 3G, complete with silver company logos on the back. Despite having a bevy of keys and buttons, nothing is protruding from the device, be it volume adjustment buttons or even the keyboard. If you place the Treo Pro on it’s side, it almost appears flat on both the front and back. Even the buttons on the side and top of the Treo Pro are ever so slightly higher than the casing. The silver color of the buttons get lost in the black gloss, again this gives an appearance of more minimalistic design, yet doesn’t affect the usability. The phone is very small. I compared it to the T-Mobile G1, BlackBerry Bold and iPhone 3G. While the Treo Pro is slightly thicker than the iPhone 3G, it’s also not as wide. This makes it very easy for one-handed use. You can carry your Starbuck’s and check your email without flinching. In fact, texting was easy enough using one hand. At no time did it feel uncomfortable or awkward.

On the left side of the Treo Pro, you’ve got an addressable button that can be mapped to any application along with your volume controls. On the other side, the Treo Pro has a dedicated WiFi button, for ultra-fast access when in a WiFi area. During my testing the Treo Pro found my WiFi network in seconds. Once I entered my WEP password, pressing the WiFi button would connect me immediately. Although it is on the side, I wouldn’t worry about accidentally hitting the WiFi button while it’s in your pocket or it’s case. In fact, you’ll need to use your fingernail to properly press the WiFi button.

At the top of the Treo Pro is a power button, but not in a traditional sense. It simply turns off the phone features. There is no way to turn off the Treo Pro, outside of removing the battery. Adjacent is easy access to the ringer on/off switch, which is perfect for when you have to run into a quick meeting or a situation that requires you turn off the ringer.

Like the Treo 800w, gone is the multi-connector in favor of a microUSB connector. Unfortunately for some, this means your existing Treo accessories will not work. Still, this move was a longtime coming and it is a vast improvement over the multi-connector. The Treo Pro features a 3.5mm headset jack, making it easy to use any standard stereo headset. You’d almost miss it, but the stylus is to right of the speaker jack and very accessible.

Palm is using a 320×320 “transreflective” flush touchscreen. While the screen is flush, the display is actually recessed in the Treo Pro. I found the screen to be no different than previous generations. In some ways, a bit disappointing when compared to competitors such as the BlackBerry Bold. This could simply be a limitation of Windows Mobile, so I cannot fault Palm. When the Treo Pro is in standby, the screen displays the day and time. This was a useful feature that I had not seen elsewhere.

The keyboard on the Treo Pro uses the same sheet key technology employed on the Palm Centro. The keys themselves have a “jelly” feel to them. I found the keyboard to be a bit cramped. I’m not sure if it’s the departure from the “smile” layout of traditional Treo smartphones or just the decision to make the keyboard footprint smaller. I can see the keyboard as a reason why some opting for the Treo 800w.

The camera is 2 megapixels. Pictures taken with the Treo Pro surprised me. They were very good quality. The camera application also has slick look to it and offered advanced features such as “white balance” and an 8x zoom.

Download sample photo 1 | sample photo 2

Listed at 5.0 hours of talk time and up to 250 hours of standby, I was mightily impressed by the battery life. While my testing is hardly the scientific nature, I found the Treo Pro battery to be more than sufficient. Given the diminutive size of the device, excellent battery life was a pleasant surprise.


The Treo Pro runs Windows Mobile 6.1 and has a few enhancements courtesy of Palm. Those who have used Palm’s Windows powered smartphones will recognize the familiar Today screen. From the Today screen you can view upcoming appointments, tasks and of course search Google. There are options in the Today screen settings to include Windows Live. That worked greeted and has the “sliding panels” effect that’s found it’s way to Windows Mobile Standard devices on 6.1.

The menu bar has a task manager application that pops-up within the Today screen. This is probably very easy to access with your stylus, but thumb access is a bit difficult. I find myself forgetting that Windows Mobile Professional is not entirely intended for thumbs and fingers. This is a great utility, as it allows you to clear programs from accessing memory.

With all the various supported wireless connections, a Today screen shortcut brings you to the Comm Manager. This allows quick access to the On/Off switches for the Phone, Bluetooth, WiFi, Microsoft Direct Push, Data Connection or simply activate Airplane mode to turn off all wireless connections. The right soft button allows access to settings for Phone, Bluetooth or Wireless Lan.


The Treo Pro also ships with “Zen” theme and it keeps the “back in black” theme going full tilt throughout the Treo Pro experience. All that’s left out was the AC/DC ringtone.

One of the useful commercial apps that comes pre-installed is Sprite Backup. This is consistently amongst our software best sellers. Sprite allows you to back all the data on your Treo to the microSD card. If for some reason, the hardware fails on your Treo Pro, you can easily restore using Sprite Backup.


All of the standard Windows programs come standard. Office Mobile includes Word Mobile, PowerPoint, Excel Mobile and OneNote Mobile. The Treo Pro allows you to read, create and edit documents. Documents can be attached and detached from emails. Of course, the real draw here is the interoperability between the Treo Pro and Outlook.  

Yet another feature is GPS, allowing for turn-by-turn directions using TeleNav (monthly service fees apply).  For reasons unknown, TeleNav continuously quit on me during testing. While GoogleMaps does not offer voice guidance, the maps feature worked without issue. Do a search for ‘pizza’ and the Treo Pro delivers nearby pizzerias. Tap the pizzeria of choice and you have the option to get directions. UPDATE: Just prior to sending back the Treo Pro, I performed a hard reset which brings the device back to it’s factory state. The model I received was previously used, so something must have gone awry with TeleNav. After the hard reset, I had no issues getting TeleNav started and providing driving directions. Aquiring my location took longer than I would have liked, but there are a nice array of options in TeleNav and the visuals look great. Along with this of course you get voice route guidance.





There is no CD with the Treo Pro. Connecting via USB to Vista (through Virtual PC on a Mac), the Treo Pro initiated a set-up process aptly titled PC Setup. A setup program then launches on your desktop and guides you through setup. Easy as pie. No loading software, just a very straightforward process that took minutes.

Internet Explorer Mobile is the default browser and it does not offer a very good web experience. If you are reading WAP pages, then it’s sufficient, but falls short when compared to browsers appearing on other platforms (Palm’s Blazer still does a much better job at rendering than IE). It’s not to say that Internet Explorer is un-usuable. Using this site as an example, I had not problem reading the frontpage stories and viewing images. Internet Explorer simply bunches up the navigation into one neat pile. Luckily, there are options. The Java based Opera browser offers a free alternative and there is quite a buzz surrounding the Skyfire browser that is currently in beta.



  • Beautiful design
  • Feature rich (WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth 2.0)
  • Unlocked allows for use on any GSM network
  • Large selection of quality third party applications
  • Easy set up process
  • Robust software bundle includes Office Mobile and Sprite back up solution
  • Google search on today screen offers location based searches


  • Keyboard feels cramped
  • Screen not as vivid as BlackBerry Bold or iPhone
  • Windows Mobile starting to feel dated
  • Cost
  • Browser doesn’t offer great web experience


Windows Mobile 6.1 is starting to feel dated and display limitations hurt the Treo Pro’s ability to stack up against displays found on comparable devices like the BlackBerry Bold. That in mind, Windows Mobile is still a very robust OS with thousands of third party applications. Out of the box, the Treo Pro is very capable and a good match for business professionals who need the ability to read and edit Office documents on the go.

Let’s face it, the more buttons, the more difficult it is for a manufacturer to create a minimalistic design that has the “wow” factor. With the Treo Pro, Palm has managed to deliver all the usability we’ve grown accustomed to and deliver a slim, uncluttered hardware design.  There is a certain attention to detail prevalent in the Treo Pro that extends to the packaging and included accessories. The Palm Treo is by far the best-looking Palm Treo device to date and includes a nice array of features such as GPS, WiFi and software enhancements like the Today screen that we’ve come to expect from Palm. While the size of the device lends itself to one-handed use, the keyboard at time felt cramped compared to previous generations “smile” layout keyboards. For some, the Treo 800w might be a more suitable option.

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