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Review: Palm's Windows Powered Treo 700w

Review by Michael Oryl on Wednesday February 01, 2006.

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One of the few aspects of the Treo 700w that disappoints is the device's 64k color, 240x240 pixel touch-screen display. While the brightness level and color rendition are both quite good, the 240x240 resolution is a step backwards from the Treo 650's 320x320 display. A higher res display would have made the Windows Mobile "Today" screen more usable, since smaller fonts could have been comfortably used. But part of the problem is really the aspect ratio. The Today screen functions best on portrait mode displays, and the 700w's display is square. While I can easily understand Palm's not wanting to move to a 320x240 display, due to the Treo form factor, I can't understand why they scrapped the 320x320 resolution and took a step backwards to 240x240. Apart from the resolution, though, the display is fine. It even seems to be reasonably resistant to marring from the stylus, though I wouldn't trust it around a set of car keys.

Another let-down for the Treo 700w is the built-in 1.3 megapixel camera. In theory the resolution that the camera offers is adequate, but the reality is that the image quality it offers negates any benefit of having a megapixel camera. The outer areas of the photos it takes appear blurry, the photos have an overall low contrast, and diagonal lines look particularly jagged when photographed with the 700w. The only high point is a pretty accurate automatic white balance system, which is a good thing since there are no manual white balance settings available.

As you might expect from a camera that doesn't take good still photos, the quality of the video that the Treo 700w captures is also less than stellar. The frame rate seems a bit low, and the videos themselves look very, very blocky. You have the option to record video at 176x144 or 352x288 resolutions, and can optionally mute the microphone during recordings. Another setting allows the videos to be recorded in 15 or 30 second maximum lengths, or as long as will fit in available storage.

As I've said in other recent reviews of Microsoft OS devices, I am not a real fan of the Media Player application. I do like that it will scan all available storage for music and video files, and try to sort them based on artist and album and such, but for all that effort, it rarely comes up with a usable library. To really organize your music on the Treo 700w, you need to synchronize the files and playlists from a PC with Windows Media Player 10. In fact, that is the only way that you can create a playlist on the 700w. Once you do have the music loaded and organized, though, the Windows Media Player app does a fine job of playing music and video files. The video player is capable of running in full-screen mode, but since the low'ish 240x240 resolution display is square in format, you'll not be able to make the most of the available pixels with the vast majority of video clips. About the only cool thing that the 700w can do with videos is use them as ringtones, something that Palm developed specifically for the Treo. The video ringtone will run as a small video window next to the contact's name and phone number when a call is inbound.

It would seem that the only multimedia related thing that the Treo 700w does very well is provide adequate storage space. The device comes with 32MB of RAM for running applications and 60MB of available built-in flash memory for data. On top of that, the SDIO card slot on the top of the device will allow you to add multiple gigabytes of flash storage to the Treo 700w with ease. 4GB SD cards are currently available for about US$200. Luckily the slot mechanism itself is very well designed, so that big shiny SD card won't be likely to fall out of the phone and get lost.

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About the author

Michael Oryl
Michael is the Philadelphia based owner and former editor-in-chief of MobileBurn.com. You can follow him on Twitter as @MichaelOryl

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