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|The Tuesday Letter
As a kid I had great fun chatting with friends on a phone that consisted of two jam tins and a long piece of string.
Holding the Treo 180 to my ear I felt surprisingly like I was talking into an empty sardine can.
At first glance it is not much different from a regular Handspring Visor but this lightweight unit is actually a mobile phone, a Palm organisier and a wireless messaging device.
Flip open the top and there is a built-in miniature QWERTY keyboard. It takes a little getting used to but it is possible to do one handed typing or use the thumbs of both hands.
Numbers and other special characters are accessed via a blue function key that works similary to the SHIFT or CTRL key.
A stylus or finger can also be used on the touch screen. The included stylus had been lost by the previous reviewer but I am sure it is a common occurrence. Handspring should consider putting a few replacements in the box.
A Rocker Switch on the side of the unit can also be used to access a variety of functions with one hand.
The flip-lid has a clear plastic window making it possible to see the caller information displayed on the screen before answering the call.
The first thing I did with the Treo was change the default settings --- I dont like the American date format or telephone numbers looking like 92-123-123 either.
As a non-Palm person, I found the screen navigation confusing.
The Treo 180 certainly serves its purpose as phone. Although as wide as a sardine can it is comfortable to hold --- just!
Considering the size of the flip-top lid, the actual ear piece is quite small and if not positioned correctly it is difficult to hear properly.
I popped my existing SIM card into the Treo. The network was recognised quickly enough but all existing phone book entries were not. All the other features you would expect from a phone are there.
The Treo 180 also includes the classic features of Palm OS based PDAs: date book, memo, phone book to do lists, schedules and so on.
The device can also be synchronised with a PC via the USB cable.
Blazer, Handsprings very own browser is also included, making it possible to surf the Internet, access e-mail and send SMS messages.
This PDA/phone combo will be popular with geek gear collectors and those who object to lugging a PDA and a mobile phone around. Measuring 11 x 6.9 x 1.8 cm and weighing 147g it is certainly functional and portable.
The monochrome 160 x 160 pixel screen leaves much to be desired. A colour version will only be available later in the year.
Hybrid PDA/mobile units are going to become more popular. Handspring have done a great job breaking the ice with the Treo 180 and it will be interesting to see how they cope when mobile phone manufacturers start shipping phones with PDA functions.
I dont see myself buying any sort of hybrid phone in the near future --- my days of speaking into jam tins are over.
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