Palm Treo 750 review

Does design compensate for old technology?

Weighing in at a hefty 154g, the Treo 750 could do with a diet

TechRadar Verdict

Overall a solid performer with some great features but the lack of new technology and flair let it down substantially


  • +

    Solid build quality

    Impressive battery life

    Great phone


  • -

    Old technology


    A bit pricey on what it delivers

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Microsoft wants Windows everywhere. Windows Vista is set to take over the home computing landscape. while Windows Home Server wants to look after your media collection (and its associated DRM). Windows Automotive wants to look after in-car entertainment. And Windows Mobile wants to ensure you never need be without a version of Windows, wherever you happen to find yourself.

Indeed, such is the investment in Windows Mobile technology, Microsoft is already up to version 6. This device, however, is based on Windows Mobile 5.0, with its curiously redundant decimal. This is the latest Palm device to follow the WM5 route after Palm's 2005 announcement that it was going to test the water and move away from the Palm OS.

That was a brave move and has resulted in a plethora of rather similar Palm/Windows Mobile smartphones. The 700w and 700wx - both considerably longer in the tooth than the 750v - boast a similar set of features. So what's the point of the 750? And why does it only have Windows Mobile 5.0 when 6 is ready to roll? Both important questions - and ones we'll answer later. Now, though, let's concentrate on the aesthetics of this handheld.

Superficially, it's rather uninspiring but very solidly built. The design lacks the flair of, for example, Mio's DigiWalker, but the build quality is much better. The stylus is reassuringly heavy and positive and the rubberised case gives a decent grip.

The keyboard buttons are very well designed. They're shaped in such a way that Palm managed to fit an entire Qwerty keyboard onto the foot of the unit, along with other keys such as a space bar, Alt key and Shift key.

We can't help thinking that there was a missed opportunity here, though. As you can see, the buttons are coloured in such a way that a silver section makes up the numpad. Annoyingly, the other keys can be very difficult to read. They should all be silver, in our opinion.

Despite this, it's still possible to type emails, text messages and Word documents reasonably quickly. That's more down to the design of the keys though, as the shape means you rarely catch other keys inadvertently.

Phone power

The outside of the device also boasts a touchscreen, which is a little smaller than we'd like at 240 x 240 pixels. There's also a miniSD card slot, the now-ubiquitous 1.3 megapixel camera, infrared and a stereo jack for headphones. The whole unit measures 113 x 59 x 21mm, which feels bulky in the pocket. Weighing in at 154g, it could also benefit from a bit of a diet.

And as a phone? As a phone it's excellent. But any phone that costs this much should be excellent. It's clear, with minimal static interference, and boasts GSM, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS and - new for the 750 - HSPDA radio bands. The Windows Mobile OS is very fluid and familiar. It should be easy to get to grips with for anyone who's used Windows 95 and beyond.

The stripped-down Office applications are good to see, but using them on the move is very difficult because of the difficulties in being able to see the right keys. The 300MHz Samsung processor and 128MB of memory also mean that there's very little - if any - sluggishness in operation.

Battery life is surprisingly impressive. The power-saving features of Windows Mobile meant that we could use the phone for days without a charge. Another possible reason is the rather small screen. The 750 is a sim-unlocked version of the 750v, which was limited to the Vodafone network. The Vodafone-only deal has now expired, which is what led Palm to this oddly timed WM5.0 release.

That's not to say it was a bad idea, but it does seem strange that it didn't hold off for a few months in Europe and prepare a WM6 Treo 750. This is a very capable tool for those on the move. However, it's far from flawless. The touchscreen can sometimes be awkward and the buttons don't have great visibility.

The construction is very good but the design is rather businesslike and lacks the kind of flair that one should demand for this price. One should also demand the latest technology for this price, and the lack of WM6 means that is denied. For those sticking with Windows XP, this is a very good business tool, with minor flaws but no real stand-out features.