The Treo Pro sports some -- but strangely, not all -- of the Palm's enhancements to Windows Mobile. My favorite new feature made its debut on the Treo 800w: the screensaver. When the screen is off, you can have the Treo Pro display the date, time, and a few alerts. There's no backlight on and it takes very little power. However, like with the D-Pad voicemail indicator, there's weird omissions here. The screen saver only shows missed calls and unread text messages, not voicemail or email.
The Treo Pro does have some standard Palm innovations like displaying the time on the screen lock indicator, Google Search on the Today Screen, and also the MyTreo application for people that are new to Windows Mobile. Strangely missing, however, is Today Screen photo speed dial or the Maps application developed for the Treo 800w.
New to the Treo Pro is an improved memory management system they've licensed from HTC called simply "Task Manager." It consists of two parts. The first is a plugin that allows you to set the "X" button on most apps to quit the application completely instead of just minimize it. The better part, however, is the Today Screen addition shown above. It gives you a drop down menu that displays your current Program Memory usage and a list of all open apps. You can use it to close all applications, close only certain applications, or switch to any open app. Kudos to Palm for licensing this from HTC.
Probably the coolest "software touch" on the Treo Pro is the fact that you don't need to download ActiveSync from Microsoft's site to sync it, nor do you have to install it from a disk. Instead, the Treo Pro defaults to a mass storage mode. When you first plug the Treo in, it asks if you'd like to install ActiveSync and then goes ahead and does it, directly from the device. Afterwards it toggles the Treo Pro back into a standard ActiveSync mode.
If you plug the Treo Pro into a Mac, it shows as a small USB disk with a help file on it letting you know that Windows Mobile doesn't natively sync with Macs, but that there are 3rd party options available.
It would have been great if Palm had extended this functionality to do more -- if I were able to browse the entire file structure of the Treo Pro as though it were a flash drive (on a Mac), I would be in seventh heaven. Instead, the feature is limited pretty much to just the ability to install ActiveSync.
Palm also has a new Communications Manager as well.
Another Palm innovation that's missing is the VCR-like buttons that appear when you dial into your voicemail (although it's possible my Treo Pro didn't recognize I was calling my voicemail number). On the bright side, Palm has finally gotten with the program and put large, touchable buttons on the in-call screen.
Because the Treo Pro's screen is flush with the front of the phone, Palm decided to automatically lock the screen while you're in calls; you need to use the D-Pad to hit the "unlock" button before you can tap the touchscreen to hit buttons. That's convenient, but the default highlighted button is the Mute button, so most people will just use the D-Pad to interact with the buttons anyway rather than navigate over to unlock, hit that, then lift their thumb up to tap another button.
Frankly, after using the iPhone, which has a proximity sensor to turn off the screen when it's up to your ear, the Treo Pro's method feels like a bit of a hassle. Not much more so than most other Treos, but a hassle by late 2008 standards.
In any case, calls on the Treo Pro were clear on both ends. The speaker on the back works well as a speakerphone -- it's loud enough and the placement of the speaker means you can hear even if the Treo Pro is sitting on your desk.
The Treo Pro's 2 megapixel camera is not going to win any photo awards, but it does the job. It handles very well in bright to medium light but falls short in low light. Palm's camera app has now-standard features like shooting video, panoramic mode, and sports-mode.
One amusing note: if you look at the metadata for images taken with the Treo Pro, it lists the camera as the "Treo 850." Like the Centro before it, it looks like the Treo Pro has a 'hidden' model number.
Here's a list of all the software that's preinstalled on a standard, unlocked Treo Pro:
ActiveSync®; Adobe Reader LE; Bluetooth®; Bubble Breaker; Calculator; Calendar; Communications Manager; Contacts; File Explorer; Get WorldMate; GoogleMaps; Internet Explorer® Mobile; Messaging; Microsoft® Office Mobile including Excel® Mobile, OneNote Mobile, PowerPoint® Mobile, and Word Mobile; My Treo; Notes; Pics & Videos; QuickGPS; Quick Tour; SIM Manager; Solitaire; Sprite Backup; Streaming Media; Tasks; Telenav; Voice Command; Windows Live; Windows Live Messenger; Windows Media® Player Mobile
Some thoughts on this list:
- Internet sharing is here and works great for tethering your laptop for 3G speeds. Just make sure you understand the potentially drastic effect this can have on your monthly bill -- most carriers require you sign up for a specific plan to use your Treo as a modem.
- Windows Live is the full version, including MSN Messenger. There is no other IM application included.
- Glad to see Google Maps is included on the base ROM. It works just fine with the Treo Pro's GPS with no extra configuration.
- It would have been nice if Palm has seen fit to include a better 3rd party browser like Opera 8.65 or even Opera 9.5.
- "Streaming Media" is another application licensed from HTC, it allows the Treo to view certain online media formats (like YouTube Mobile) that Windows Mobile doesn't necessarily support by default.
- Sprite Backup is a great addition to Palm's standard stable of Windows Mobile apps. It allows you to create full backups to your expansion card on a regular schedule.
- QuickGPS allows the Treo to download GPS satellite positions for faster GPS fixes.
- Not listed above, but there are also some custom settings like Palm's WiFi settings modifications and the "PC Setup" setting mentioned earlier.
All in all, it's a pretty straight -foward set of default applications, though the lack of a built-in application that supports AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo Messenger stings just a little. Fortunately, there are plenty of 3rd party companies offering software with that functionality.
One notable exception to the included software is Palm's custom threaded SMS app. The Treo Pro does, of course, have threaded SMS, but Palm has opted to stick with the default threaded SMS on Windows Mobile 6.1. There's plusses and minuses to this decision -- Palm's SMS app does a much better job of using screen real estate; the default is included with Pocket Outlook so it's easier to access it quickly. All in all it's a decision I understand -- maintaining a custom threaded SMS solution when there's already one built into Windows Mobile is probably something I'd eventually give the ax to myself.
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