Handspring’s Treo Goes on Sale in U.S.

Handspring Inc. Monday started selling its Palm OS-based Treo communicator to U.S. customers via its Web site.

Specifically, the company has started selling the Treo 180, which has a built-in QWERTY keyboard, and the Treo 180g, which uses Graffiti handwriting recognition like most Palm-based devices. Both monochrome devices cost $399 if they are purchased with a GSM service plan. Plans from Cingular Wireless and VoiceStream are offered at the site.

The availability of Treo marks a sudden upsurge in new mobile devices that combine wireless and handheld capabilities. Palm Inc. last week released its i705 wireless handheld, which has always-on e-mail access although it doesn’t support voice.

Nokia is expected to release its 9210 communicator, which is based on the Symbian platform, later this year. The 9210 already has met with success in Europe.

Handspring CEO Donna Dubinsky recently said that, over the long-run, all of the company’s devices will combine the two functions.

Handspring, which started shipping Treo in Asia in late January, said in a statement that it will start selling Treo in North American retail stores “in coming months.” It also has said it will start selling the devices that work with CDMA-based wireless networks by mid-year.

Either Treo model costs $549 without a service plan. The company said that owners of its VisorPhone Springboard module, which turned standard Handspring handhelds into wireless phones, could buy Treo for $399 without activation.

Dave Haskin is managing editor of allnetDevices.

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