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Handspring Treo Communicator 270 and 300

Note that the Treo 270 and 300 models are replaced by the Treo 600, introduced in late Fall 2003.

Introduced in the US May 28, 2002, the Treo Communicator 270 may turn out to be just what the doctor ordered: a COLOR smartphone (Palm OS PDA + phone) with an embedded keyboard. The 300 model, introduced a few months later, is identical except that it's a CDMA band phone that works with Sprint. The past few months have been exciting times for wireless PDAs: the Treo 180 grayscale smartphone, the much rumored and anticipated Palm i705 , and the Samsung I300 color Palm smartphone came out with Sprint service last year and it's sucessor is rumored due out for Verizon service this summer.

Currently, the Treo competes with the Kyocera 7135 and Samsung I330 Palm OS smartphones. The Treo is a bit bigger than the 7135 and is somewhat bigger than a Motorola Startac. Not bad! Two reasons smartphones haven't had a higher adoption rate is price and their large size. The Treo is definitely highly portable, and with activation is competitive with the Palm m515 and you get a cell phone built-in. It's also cheaper than some Pocket PC phones arriving in stores. If you own a Visor Phone, you can trade up to the Treo 270 and save $200 (thus even without new activation, you'll pay $499).


Handspring Treo 270

The Treo 270 works only on GSM networks such as Cingular, T-Mobile and VoiceStream.

The Treo 300 works on Sprint's CDMA network. Both are capable of high-speed data access.

Handspring Treo 270

We've tested the Treo 180 and loved it. The 270 and 300 are the same size (within a few tenths of an inch) and has the same features and interface. The size is great, and the protective flip cover acts as the earpiece when flipped up, making the phone just the right size for comfy conversations (it functions like a clamshell/flip phone, the earpiece is at the top inside edge of the flip cover. For those of you who've used a VisorPhone or the Samsung I300, you won't be getting many greasy face-prints on the screen, thanks to the standard clamshell angle that keeps the phone away from your skin. There is a clear door in the flip cover that protects the screen while still allowing you to view screen-- nice!

The product folks at Handspring say this unit has been designed to be a cell phone first and a PDA second. The form factor is indeed that of a flip-phone and the phone-related software takes precedence. Handspring figures everyone uses a cell phone these days, while not as many use a PDA, therefore the cell phone functionality is paramount. The 12 bit 4,000 color screen shows the standard 160 x 160 pixels. You have your choice of the increasingly popular thumb keyboard or graffiti models (see picture above).

The 270 is a dual-band GSM phone has speed dialing, dialing from Palm address book entries, vibrating and auditory ringers, 3 way calling and support for GPRS (general packet radio service, a wireless data mode that's enjoyed popularity in Europe) where available in the US. The Treo 300 runs at 1900 MHz and does CDMA and the new PCS Vision high speed data network which should get you data transfer rates of 60 to 70k. You'll also get the standard Palm software and room for plenty of 3rd party software since this unit has 16 megs of memory. There is no Springboard slot, so you won't be able to expand the device. Handspring left the expansion slot out to keep the unit small and again, because they intended this to be a phone first, and a PDA second. Oddly, the phone doesn't have a voice dial feature. A product rep at Handspring claimed the processor isn't fast enough to do voice dialing, but both the Kyocera and Samsung phones running at only 20 MHz compared to the Treo's 33 MHz do offer very functional voice dialing. Hmmm...




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What about Internet access? Blazer, a very nice Palm browser that supports SSL, cookies, HTML and WAP comes with the phone. You also get a POP3 email application and support for Palm PQAs.

Price $499 with activation, $699 without activation.

Pro: The small size, 12 bit color screen, processing power and hight speed Internet access. Gets a strong signal compared to some traditional cell phones. Con: No expansion slot.



Battery: Rechargeable Lithium Ion, 2.5 hours talk time, 60 hours standby.

OS: Palm OS 3.5H

Memory and Processor: 16 megs RAM, 33MHz Dragonball VZ processor.

size: 4.2" x 2.8" x 8.2"; (10.8cm x 7.1cm x 2.1cm). 5.4 oz (153g)

Expansion: None.

Syncing: USB cradle. Serial cradle and cables optional

Display: Transflective color STN. 12 bit, 4,096 colors.

Software: All the Palm OS built-in programs (contacts, datebook, etc), Handspring's Date Book Plus, Blazer Internet browser, One-Touch Mail™, Pocket Mirror (sync to Outlook).

Other features: Built-in, backlit keyboard , Protective flip lid, Personal speakerphone, Rocker switch, Ringer switch with vibrate option, Headset jack, speed dial. Comes with Palm Desktop for Mac and PC.


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