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Treo 650: Widely Anticipated and Almost Here

Details about the new device have been leaking for several months, so
there weren't any huge surprises. That's disappointing to the extent
that PalmOne's decision to include embedded Bluetooth but no Wi-Fi
support is a significant limitation. If you are a real road warrior
who takes advantage of Wi-Fi hotspot services, you'll probably prefer
the iPAQ. But most times when I am in range of a Wi-Fi signal, I am
toting my laptop anyway.

For those of you who were hoping that the device's SDIO interface slot
would allow for a Wi-Fi add-on, it doesn't look like that's the case.
In a recent review, we were shocked to learn that PalmOne's own SDIO
Wi-Fi adapter was incompatible with the Treo 600 (reportedly because of
power limitations and driver issues). We've not yet been able to verify
that the situation is the same with the 650, though the absence of any
mention of Wi-Fi in the press release or on PalmOne's Treo 650 product
pages would appear to confirm that suspicion.


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But enough of the bad news. There's plenty of good to report, including
a faster processor, a much better display, a removable battery, an
improved keyboard and the aforementioned Bluetooth support. The Treo
650 uses a 312-MHz Intel XScale CPU, which doubles the clock speed of the
600, so performance should be improved significantly. The display also
is much improved. Although it isn't any bigger--display real estate
has to be traded off for portability--it sports 320-by-320 resolution
compared to the 600's 160-by-160. That should make navigating Web
pages that aren't optimized for mobile devices a slightly less painful
experience.

The removable battery offers about the same life as the old one (five
to six hours of talk time and 12 to 14 days of standby time, depending on
radio interface), but the modularity allows you to carry an extra
battery on the road, which could save you in certain situations. The
keyboard is now backlit, and PalmOne has added dedicated keys for
basic phone functions--a small detail that will significantly improve
usability. The integrated Bluetooth support should enable wireless
synchronization capabilities, cable-free headsets and external
keyboards while also facilitating the use of the 650 as a wireless WAN
modem when you want to connect your notebook on the road. The integrated snapshot
camera, which is decidedly ho-hum, now sports a 2x digital zoom
and the promise of better images in low-light conditions.