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Treo 680: First Impressions and Treo 650 Comparison

Thu Jan 18, 2007 - 10:11 AM EST - By Jennifer Chappell


I got a Palm Treo 680 (Read Mike's review) for Christmas but have been so busy that I haven't had time to set it up until this past Sunday evening. I ordered the unlocked Graphite version from Palm's website. I wanted Graphite or Copper and Palm only had the Graphite at the time, so that's what I chose as I wanted it like NOW! Funny though how the device has been sitting in the box since it arrived until Sunday. I would get it out and carress it now and then but just didn't have the time to set it up.

I had been using a Treo 650 for the past several months so I was curious to see what I'd think of the new Treo 680. As I began using the 680, I began to see many differences (watch Dieter and Mike's video comparison) between the two devices. So my very first impression of the Treo 680 was just how different it was compared to the Treo 650. Well, the first difference I noted was the bald top on the 680 where the antenna sits on the 650. I actually liked the antenna on the 650. I used the antenna a lot to get the 650 out of the cases I used. It was so easy to grasp the tip of the antenna and pull out the device. I never did mind how the antenna looked either. I sort of miss the antenna but I'm getting used to the clean look. The shape of the two devices is different also. The Treo 680 is more curvy, especially at the bottom of the device.

Even though the Treo 650's overall shape is more square than the 680, the keypad on the 680 has square-like keys compared to the slanted teardrop-like keys on the 650 keypad. The 5-way navigational button on the 680 is more of a square shape like the one on the new Treo 750. Another difference between the keypad buttons on the 650 and 680 is that the buttons on the 680 don't seem to stick up as high. Now maybe that's my imagination, but it just seems as if the keys on the 680 aren't quite as tall. There also appears to be more space between the keys on the 680 which makes for easier typing. The phone send and end buttons have been moved on the Treo 680 as has the home button. To wake up the screen on the 650, you press the green send button, but on the 680, you have to press the red end button to wake up the screen. I'm still trying to get used to that change.

Of course the tops of the two devices are quite different since the antenna on the 680 is internal. Also absent is the SD card slot and the SIM card slot. The ringer switch and IR port take up most of the space on top of the Treo 680, and this area is all black, black slider switch instead of silver, and the little ringer icons are white whereas they're black on the 650.

Where is the SD card slot and the SIM card slot? Well, the SD card slot is on the right side of the Treo 680. There is a cute little door on plastic hinges that you open to reveal the card slot. Although I like this door as it keeps dust from getting into the card slot, I'm always worried about moving parts on a device because parts that are moved often eventually wear down. I got a 1GB Palm SD card with my Treo 680 and since I probably won't have it loaded with all that much, I doubt if I'll be popping my card in and out very often. So I'm hoping that the hinges on my little door will last for a long time. And where is the SIM card? Palm decided to put it under the battery on the 680. That's no problem for me since I don't plan to be taking the card out anytime soon. Absent on the 680 is the reset button. In order to reset your device, you just take the battery out and put it back in. I'm not sure why Palm did this. Luckily, it's pretty simple to pop the battery out and back in. And when you do pop the battery back in and the device reboots, notice the new screen that appears (below right) after the Palm logo appears.

And the Access brand appears on the back of the Treo 680 as well. The back speaker and camera have moved and look totally different on the 680. The same goes for the battery door button. I like the speaker and it sure sounds great! I got the free Mobile Music Pack with my Palm Treo 680 which includes a music software CD, a Palm stereo headset, and a Palm 1GB memory card. I put some tunes on the Pocket Tunes app and man alive did they ever sound great coming out of that back speaker! And they sounded especially great with that Palm stereo headset!

About the camera placement; I'm not too thrilled about that. The way I hold my Treo when taking photos just so happens to put my right index finger right over the camera lens on the back of the device. That is how I always held my Treo 650 when taking pictures. I guess I'll just have to start holding the 680 in a different way so as not to block the camera lens. I've read where others have complained about the camera placement as well. I think that the camera takes pretty decent photos though.

Another difference in the Treo 650 and the Treo 680 is the stylus. I don't like the stylus on the 680 at all. Every Palm I've owned up until the Treo 680 has had a solid stylus, and I don't like the fact that most of the stylus on the 680 is plastic. I can't stand that flex in it. It drives me crazy. The stylus does look nice and the top part that is black blends in very well with the back of the device. But I just wish that the stylus was all solid. Heck, if the plastic portion was a harder plastic that didn't flex, I'd be happy with that. But the way it's made, well, it just feels cheap. I hope that someone comes out with a solid replacement stylus for the Treo 680 soon!

When I first turned the Treo 680 on, I was surprised at how different the phone application looked. Instead of seeing the dialpad on the screen as you do on the Treo 650, there is a default background pic of someone standing on top of some rocks, overlooking an expanse of land and water. Below that is a toolbar with the dialpad, favorites, contacts, and menu tabs. You can change the background pic and as shown here, I changed mine to a VW Beetle.

Another difference I noticed was the volume on the Treo 680. I can hear the other person talking so much better on the Treo 680 and I no longer need the program VolumeCare Pro! Thanks Palm! I gave my Treo 650 to my husband and he's now using VolumeCare Pro. Look for a VolumeCare Pro review soon.

Okay, I had this article written up and ready to publish but I just had to add this paragraph. I've now been using my Treo 680 for 3 days and I can't believe what horrible battery life it has. Of course it's only been 3 days, but man alive, so far it's about as bad as the battery on the Tungsten E I used to have. Scratch that, I think it might be worse. The difference in the Treo 680 and the Treo 650 batteries so far is like night and day for me. I'm not a power user. Yesterday I got up and my 680 had a full charge because I had it plugged in next to my bed. I brought the 680 in here to my office and sat it on my desk. I used it to make one phone call to Dieter. We didn't talk long; maybe five to ten minutes. I checked my appointments on the phone a couple of times throughout the day. I jotted something down in memos once. After work, I played a couple of games of Bejeweled and a couple of games of Thieves. That's it. That's the extent of my Treo 680's usage yesterday. When I went to bed last night, my battery was down to 38%! That is absolutely pathetic! I heard Mike say on the last TreoCast Episode 10 that many people have said that after the battery is broken in, the battery life gets better. There are many posts on the TreoCentral Treo 680 forum about the battery. I just read this morning that Palm is going to make a patch available next week to address the problem of the battery draining because applications do not shut down properly. Well, I sure hope that is true!

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