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RealTime IT News

A Less-Pricey Palm Treo?

NEW YORK -- The rumors were right about another Treo on its way.

Palm today announced a more "consumer-friendly" Treo 680 smartphone based on the Palm OS.

The screen is larger, but Palm managed to decrease the size and weight a little, mostly by decreasing the size of the battery, according to Ed Colligan, Palm's president and CEO, who announced the new model today.

The Palm 680 offers a few "missing" features that most expected to see in the Palm 650, such as a voice recorder and MP3 ring tones. Who expected a phone that listed for over $700 and boasted MP3 playback to not have MP3 ring tones?

Some of the new features include a new user interface, tools to add numbers to existing contacts, multi-way conference calls, improved e-mail and better multimedia.

It's also missing an antenna, but not really. In this release, it's integrated in the actual device.

It features 64MB of memory and comes in colors called Graphite, Crimson, Arctic, and Copper.

treo
The new Treo line.
Source: Palm

The new keyboard layout is taken from its big brother, the Palm 700p for CDMA (Verizon).

It also improves upon the streaming feature, allowing users to listen to live broadcasts or even webcasts.

Palm also announced a new service with the device. It displays Google maps and/or satellite imagery with built-in traffic information. This feature is optimized for the Treo 680, 700p, 650 and also the 600.

Overall, the Treo 680 specializes in simplicity.

"We like to talk about pockets, not processors," Colligan said of the Treo 680 design during a press conference to launch the device.

"We think about instant, not instructions. We really want to give to the user a simpler" way to use the smartphone.

Palm's Treo smartphone lines are a huge hit with business users, second only to RIM's BlackBerry devices. But they aren't as widespread with consumers. Palm wants to change that.

The company has not announced pricing, because it has yet to line up a carrier. Colligan promised that Palm will be "aggressive" and competitive with similar smartphones that are positioned with scaled-down functions.

The GSM phone is similar in many ways to the Palm 750v smartphone with Vodaphone's service in Europe, only the 680 departs from Palm's "stubby antenna" design.

Colligan said that "this phone isn't just for geeks." Perhaps geeks do spend obscene amounts on technology, and adopt new gadgets before they have their bugs shaken out.

But there aren't enough of them to help Palm get more sales volume and improve its stock price.

Colligan said Palm's new target demographic is 210 million customers between the age of 25 and 49, who are on the go, and often away from a PC but need to balance an active lifestyle with work.