Review: Handspring Treo 270

Continuing in my series of the latest Rogers offerings we run into the Treo 270. So, why do a review on a device that came out mid last year?? Well, because it only became available on Rogers Canada. So here we have the great joy and pain of technology, it still does all it promises yet costs less just a few miles down the road.

I have been using the device in my day to day activities a little over a week. The dual band GSM phone is supported on any GSM 900 / 1900MHz system. I simply slid my SIM card from my trusty V60 phone and was good to go.

The phone is 110 x 69 x 18mm when closed and feels very wide, it only weighs 153g but takes up a good chunk of your face when opened, extra wide coverage for thermal heating. You couldn’t expect anything less, with a thumb board and decent screen size it is hard to keep things ultra small. The see through flip properly protects the screen when it’s in your pocket, I think it is a great feature although it was left out on it’s successor, the Treo 600 selling for $249.99 from Sprint. Not being a fan of bulky leather cases, I feel it was a mistake to leave out this option. I would be living in fear of scratching the damned thing. There is simply no way I could just chuck that phone into my pocket along with my keys and change without a proper flip cover.

Phone Features
Ringtones, and call ID features are pretty much what you’d expect. The phone has an active flip meaning that you can answer and end calls just by opening and closing it. I must admit that this has always felt most natural to me for a phone. You dial numbers either on the thumb board, tapping directly on the screen with a finger, or just start typing and it will take you through your address book. When you open the phone and automatically go to your speed dial list they are presented on nice large icons for you to tap with a finger or pen. Oddly enough, there’s an application to copy your SIM card numbers to the Treo but not the other way around.

For the most part it was great as a daily use phone. Sure it’s big with the flip open but with the flip closed, the unit is thin enough to feel comfortable in your pant pocket. Although it has a stylus for use on the touch-screen, the menu setup is designed large enough to accomplish virtually all of the common phone functions without ever using it. A personal highlight was the external hardware switch to set the phone into silent mode. If you happen to forget to put it on quiet before you go to a meeting, the switch makes it easy to do so without looking at it, and no embarrassing keypad tones in the process. Between that, the jog dial and the multiple function hardware buttons, someone spent a bit of time in the design department. The audio quality and reception were as good as anything else I’ve tried. Yes, it comes with a headset but I refuse to wear one in public so not much to add there. I should mention that it has a speakerphone option but like every other one I’ve tried, people I spoke to on it got annoyed rather quickly. The one notable downside here was power. At most, I got two days out of each charge and my usage wasn’t particularly heavy. This is not unusual for a device with a large colour screen but it should be a factor in the shopping list.

Desktop Sychronization
It’s a Palm handheld. Synchronizing with Outlook was a breeze. Run software, plug in Cable, hit the button – Done.

Messaging
Having a thumb-board for SMS and e-mail really rocks. If I never have to type out another text message with a number pad again, and I’m at a damned near Jedi dexterity with my thumbs these days, I would be a happy man. The messaging software in the unit lets you plug in an SMS, e-mail address or just pick from your address book very intuitively. On the e-mail side, the CD comes with JP Mobile’s One-Touch Mail to retieve from POP3 accounts.

PDA

As a Palm OS 3.5.2 device – it delivers well in the phonebook/datebook department. No Graffitti and frankly I don’t miss it. The processor is barely running, at a mere 33MHhz with 16MB RAM you can forget MP3′s and videos (the The passive-matrix 12-bit (4096 colors) screen couldn’t hack it either). There’s no expansion slot for extra memory anyways. Of course, since all Palms are backwards compatible, that does leave you with hundreds of software titles to choose from. For me, I used the PDA side for contact info, book reader & simple games (via third party apps). Despite being armed with a microphone, the unit is sadly missing any voice recording capability.

Conclusion

At $699.00 CAN with a 2-year term on a Rogers Canada (Sprint customers in the US can pick one up for Free or $349.00 USD without the service plan), this phone is definitely not a realistic purchase for anyone, I would be happier to see it fall closer to the $150 mark. If you’re a PCS user, and would like something similar, the Treo 300 is only $99.00 US on Sprint and can save you a bundle for relatively the same features.


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