After the initial obstacles, the 650 settled into my life even more easily than its predecessor. The keyboard is, quite literally, a joy; I found myself grinning when typing out a particularly long message that would have been a painful chore on most other mobile keyboards. It’s a wonder they’ve fitted something so usable into a space that small. Its performance as a phone is just fine, the audio quality being slightly better than the 600. Speakerphone quality is also improved with less distortion, though it’s also a little quieter, and those I called with it seemed to have a harder time hearing me.
As far as connectivity goes, there were no major surprises. Pairing the Treo up with other devices worked pretty easily: my attempts to hook up to a PC and a Nokia phone all went smoothly, as did file transfer. Using a borrowed Nokia headset was a little more problematic, as the connection seemed to come and go occasionally. GPRS worked about as well as on the 600, which was fairly solid but slow. As for WiFi, don’t hold your breath; palmOne say they’ll be releasing drivers for their SD-card adapter, but they don’t seem to be particularly enthusiastic about it. In the meantime, Enfora will soon be shipping a bulky-but-powerful “WiFi sled” into which the Treo will fit.
As well as the keyboard and interface, another area where the Treo scores well over the competition is battery life. After a day’s happy toying with the device, leaving Bluetooth on most of the time, the battery level had only dropped to 80%. Further testing showed that the drain was consistent, so one can comfortably expect two to three days’ use on a single charge, and possibly more. Compare this with the Treo’s main competitor, the XDA IIi (marketed by Orange as the M2000), which, with heavy use, has problems getting through a single day. New for the 650 is the removable back cover that lets you get at the battery compartment. Spare cells are already available on the net for about twenty pounds, and since the onboard RAM is flash-based, you can change over without fear of losing your data.
Now that it has Bluetooth and a high-resolution screen to go with its excellent user interface, the Treo 650 can sit comfortably among the smartphone market leaders. While it may not have the flash and power of some of the fancier Windows Mobile and Symbian devices, it makes up for it with comfortable styling and considerably better battery life. The exemplary design means that it doesn’t just switch smoothly between the roles of phone and PDA, but handles both together with such natural confidence to make it look easy. Don’t be fooled; I doubt we’ll see as good an all-rounder as the Treo for quite a while.
Score in detail