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All this said the Palm Treo Pro is not without its plus points. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack – a rarity in Windows Mobile smartphones – though sound quality is a little on the thin side, while there are all manner of thoughtful touches scattered around its well-thought out chassis. On the top edge, for instance, you'll find a switch to silence the ringer and a power button that doubles as an on/off switch for the phone aspect of the device - give it a long press and the GSM is disabled; another long press switches it back on again.
On the keyboard, there are shortcut keys and key combinations for screen brightness and device search, while inserting symbols is dealt with in a manner more elegant than I have seen in any other Windows Mobile smartphone. Pressing the Alt key brings up a full list of symbols; click Alt and a letter key simultaneously and you get a shorter list of special characters pertaining to that letter.
In another unusual touch, for those who need to connect the phone regularly to a desktop PC other than their own machine, the Palm Treo Pro will act as a mass storage device in the first instance, firing up a window on your PC that points you at the Microsoft website so you can quickly download the latest version.
Its 320 x 320 resolution screen is also a pleasure to use. It is bright and clear, transflective – so is easy to view outside in bright sunshine – and its touch sensitivity is extremely accurate. With Opera Mobile 9.5 installed, browsing the web on the phone is a comfortable and productive experience, too.
Unfortunately the Palm Treo Pro, despite a raft of useful features, just isn't quite good enough to keep up with the competition. Its keyboard isn't as good as the one on the Touch Pro, its battery life is not as good as the battery life you get with a Nokia E71 or Blackberry Bold and there are few interface enhancements to shield you from the rather old-fashioned looking Windows Mobile interface.
Of course Windows Mobile's strength is that it's relatively simple to do this yourself, but this won't be enough for most people to overcome this phone's physical shortcomings. With so many high-quality alternatives to choose from, the Palm Treo Pro is left trailing in the dust.
In another time the Treo Pro would probably be earning many plaudits. Yet, despite an excellent feature set and some clear design improvements over the previous models, the Treo Pro lacks the interface refinement to compete with heavyweight smartphones like the Nokia N71, Blackberry Bold and HTC Touch Pro. Other shortcomings, like the mediocre battery life and awkward keyboard, also grate and make the Treo Pro something mainly devout Palm users will invest in.
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