October 25, 2004 10:58 AM PDT

PalmOne unveils latest Treo

PalmOne is aiming to sharpen up its image with the launch of the Treo 650 on Monday.

As previously reported, the smart-phone update has a higher-resolution screen and a faster processor than the previous top-of-the-line model, the Treo 600.

Additions include a removable battery and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. An improved VGA camera promises to work better in low-light situations and to record video as well as still images.

Overall, though, PalmOne felt that it had found the right design for its smart phone with the Treo 600, product manager Michelle White said. The 650 is similar in design to its predecessor but is slightly curvier and has a new keyboard with flatter keys.

"Customers are getting essentially a new and improved version of the Treo 600," White said. "We quickly realized that...the form factor was quite a success," she said.

The Treo 600 has become an increasingly important part of PalmOne's business, accounting for nearly half of revenue in the first quarter. During that period, Palm shipped 273,000 Treo 600 phones, bringing the total number of the devices shipped until then to 661,000.

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Treo 650
Is the much anticipated sequel to the popular Treo 600 worth the wait?
PalmOne President Ed Colligan said that Sprint PCS will be the first carrier to offer the device. Colligan showed the device at the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment show in San Francisco.

Milpitas, Calif.-based PalmOne said the Treo 650 will be available by the holiday season. Pricing will be up to the carriers but is expected to be in the $400 to $500 range.

The device faces a growing number of competitors, including products from Research In Motion and phones running operating systems from Symbian and Microsoft. White said customers are also considering the Treo against camera phones and MP3 phones with fewer features, making it important for the company to beef up the Treo's music-playing and picture-taking abilities.

PalmOne plans to make two versions of the Treo 650. One will support CDMA/1XRTT cellular networks, used by Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless. The other will run on GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) networks, used by T-Mobile, Cingular Wireless and AT&T Wireless.

The GSM model will also support EDGE, a higher-speed data network. AT&T launched its EDGE network late last year, noting that it expected to support devices from PalmOne.

The Treo 650 sports a high-resolution display of 320 pixels by 320 pixels and uses a 312MHz Intel processor. That compares with the Treo 600's screen of 160 pixels by 160 pixels and its 144MHz Texas Instruments chip. PalmOne expects some carriers to sell the older device alongside the update.

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