Sprint Palm Treo PRO (850): First Impressions

User Rating: / 1
Monday, 30 March 2009

Sprint Palm Treo PRO (850): First Impressions


sprint palm treo pro
Palm's Treo Smartphone has been one of the most popular PDA's on the market for years, and this latest iteration is bound to continue that trend. The PRO (AKA the Palm Treo 850) is a sleek, intuitive, little PDA that has a lot to offer anyone from a business exec to a casual user.�

The first thing you'll notice about the PRO is it's size. It is noticeably less bulky than the older 755p and almost an ounce lighter. Here's how it stacks up to the 755p and the Blackberry 8830:

palm pro, bb 8830, palm 755p

top to bottom: Blackberry 8830, Palm Treo PRO, Palm Treo 755p


Along with its smaller size comes a slightly smaller keypad, unfortunately. The keys on the full QWERTY are not too small to use, but folks with larger hands will likely wish there was more space between the buttons. Small size aside, the keyboard works great - very easy to push the buttons and typing was pretty smooth. The other buttons, used for navigation and basic functions like call and send, are convenient and plenty large and it also features shortcut buttons to the Start menu, message center, and email.

755p and 850 keypad

left: Treo PRO keyboard. right: Treo 755p keyboard


The touch screen is somewhat small as well, and utilizes a stylus, which is not my favorite input technique. For one thing, it is difficult to keep track of a stylus - and they don't include an extra one. I anticipate that I'll need a new one within weeks of daily use of the PRO. The touch screen is fairly responsive and I didn't have any major problems selecting items or clicking icons, although like most similar PDAs you do have to be pretty accurate with your tapping - forget about using your fingers to make selections. I found that the navigation buttons and hotkeys on the keypad were sufficient for 90% of what I needed to do, however.

The small screen size is not a major issue for emailing or using functions like the calendar, but viewing webpages in Internet Explorer did require quite a bit of scrolling. Sites look excellent and thanks to the EVDO Rev-A (see more below) loaded super-fast; I had no trouble using the web browser and less tech-savvy users will appreciate its intuitive-ness (the browser features a convenient menu where you can copy/paste, zoom out, add to favorites, and other common functions).

As with all Palm devices, functionality is key, and the PRO definitely does not disappoint in that regard. The PRO comes with the full Microsoft Office Mobile Suite for viewing and editing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, OneNote Mobile, Windows Live integration, as well as standard tools like a calendar, contact book, and a task list. Email was easy to set up and downloaded promptly. It easily synced with my PC, making coordination of email and my calendar a breeze, but syncing with my Mac was another story. Palm does not offer any Apple syncing software that works with the PRO at all and I was hesitant to mess around with a third-party solution at this juncture.

While the PRO is probably more suited towards business users than media-lovers, it does offer quite a bit of media support thanks to built-in Flash player for the web and Windows Media Player for all kinds of content (supported formats include AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, MPEG-4, and WMV files). Viewing video within the internet browser was a bit of a drag - the screen is simply too small to accomodate a YouTube video within the browser window - there is a YouTube application available that eliminates the need to go through the broswer. Multimedia looks and sounds very nice, despite the relatively small screen. The PRO can't match up to a full touch-screen device like the HTC Touch Diamond for video, but the quality is definitely above average and the EVDO Rev-A and WiFi capabilities make streaming music and video a possibility.

The best feature of the PRO is it's EVDO Rev-A capabilities. Being able to connect at Rev-A speeds makes everything from downloads to web browsing much quicker and is crucial if you plan to utilize the phone-as-modem function. Sprint offers very few EVDO Rev-A phones and even fewer that are both Rev-A and tether-capable, and the PRO tethered like a, well, pro. Tethering with my PC couldn't have been simpler - the PRO comes with a USB cable and easy instructions about how to connect as a modem (of course, you'll need to sign up for the phone-as-modem feature first - read this article for more info). Just like the syncing, though, it wasn't as easy for the Mac. The only option to tether the PRO with a Mac is to use Bluetooth, which simply cannot provide as fast a connection as a direct connection via USB, even if both devices have Bluetooth 2.0 like the PRO and my MacBook Pro. Even through Bluetooth, though, tethering worked well and was simple to set up. Unfortunately the PRO does not currently work with any 3G routers, but we are hoping that Cradlepoint will support it in a future firmware release!

All in all, I was very pleased with the PRO. It's easy to use and offers a lot of functions at a low price and in a stylish package.

What we love:

  • EVDO Rev-A
  • Super small, sleek, and lightweight
  • Tethered easily to PC via included USB cable
  • Windows Mobile is a breeze to use
  • VERY Long battery life
  • Built-in WiFi
  • One-click activation

But we're not as fond of:

  • No antenna port (that would have made this phone a near dream come true!)
  • No router support
  • Stylus is inconvenient and too easy to lose (I misplaced it about 10 times while writing this review and twice had to crawl under furniture to locate it)
  • Can't tether via USB to Mac (Bluetooth only)
  • Sync software not included
  • No Palm sync software available for Mac

Overall grade: B. At just $149 after rebate (with 2-year contract), the PRO offers a lot at a decent price.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 September 2009 )
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