Two Challengers Enter Smartphone Wars

April 12, 2006 Two Challengers Enter Smartphone Wars By WALTER S. MOSSBERG and KATHERINE BOEHRET

When it comes to smartphones that have a full keyboard and good email capability, Palm's fast-selling Treo is the best. New devices are constantly being announced in hopes of becoming the "Treo killer." Most of these challengers use Microsoft's Windows Mobile software, formerly called Pocket PC, which was designed to evoke the Windows computer experience on a hand-held device.

None of these Microsoft-based devices has gained much traction, however. The most notable entry so far has been a hybrid gadget -- a Treo that uses the Windows Mobile software, the 700w. But this model is mostly aimed at the computing staffs of big companies, who rigidly favor Microsoft products. For individual users, Palm still offers the Treo 650, which uses the Palm operating system and will soon be replaced by a newer Palm-based model capable of running on faster networks.

This week, we tested two of the latest Microsoft-based, would-be Treo killers: T-Mobile USA's $400 MDA and Sprint Nextel Corp.'s $600 PPC-6700. (Both cost less when purchased with service plans.)

These new email phones have some very nice hardware features. But they suffer when compared with the Treo because of their Windows Mobile software, which often requires more clicks and greater menu navigation to get simple things done than the Palm-based Treo does.

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Monty Solomon
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