By WALTER S. MOSSBERG
Palm's Treo smart phones have been the best high-end cellphones on the market, with the finest combination of voice, email and Web-browsing capabilities in a hand-held device.
But many corporate information-technology departments have refused to buy the phone. Why? Because the Treo is powered by the Palm operating system and not by software from Microsoft, the only company whose software is supported by many IT departments.
So Palm this week introduced a Treo model that uses the latest version of Microsoft's Windows Mobile software (formerly known as Pocket PC). On the outside, the new Treo 700w looks very much like the current Palm-based model, the Treo 650, which will remain on sale and will continue to be developed on a parallel track. On the inside, though, the new Treo's key software functions -- phone, email, Web, multimedia -- are all different. [Palm]
I have been testing the Treo 700w, which will be sold by Verizon Wireless, to see how it stacks up against the Treo 650, the phone I carry every day.
My verdict: Despite some nice new features, the Windows Mobile software is still inferior to the Palm software for one-handed use on the go. Its crucial email and phone functions are also weaker. And there's a serious bug in its email software that affects individuals, though not corporate users. So the Treo 700w is neither as easy to use nor as powerful as the Treo 650. In addition, the screen on the 700w offers significantly lower resolution than the screen on the 650, and the new model costs twice as much -- $400 versus $200.