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Updated: The Treo surfaces

Wednesday August 29, 2001 - 1:21 AM EST - By Marcus Adolfsson & James Hromadka

VisorCentral's investigative reporting team today discovered recent FCC filings outlining what might be Handspring's upcoming wireless handheld - the Handspring Treo.

Handspring's CEO Donna Dubinsky hinted earlier this year that Handspring was working on a PDA with integrated wireless access. The two models we found, Treo k180 and Treo g180, matches that description.

The Treo models integrate a GSM cell/data phone into the hood of a Visor; however, these units will likely be the start a separate family of handhelds and will not be branded as Visor Treo.

Why do we assume this? There is no Springboard slot! Neither the preliminary manuals nor the images indicate that these units can use Springboard modules - or contains any other expansion capability (except for the obligatory hotsync port).

Rather than using Grafitti as input method, Treo k180 (k as in keyboard) uses a mini QWERTY keyboard similar to Research In Motion's BlackBerry pager. The Treo g180 (g as in Graffiti) uses a traditional handwriting area.

Unlike the BlackBerry pager and Palm's upcoming i705, which connects wirelessly using a two-way paging network, the Treo will connect using GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) like the existing VisorPhone. Using GSM also allows the Treo work as a voice cell phone -- something the BlackBerry and i705 do not offer.

The back of the Treo features a slot for a standard GSM SIM card. According to one of the FCC filings, "both products are capable of operating on GSM 900 MHz and PCS 1.9 GHz bands, however the phones WILL NOT OPERATE in the United States or Canada on 900 MHz. If one of the phones were taken to Europe, it would then operate on their 900 MHz system."

Other preliminary information we were able obtain:
  • The unit has a Jog Dial, or "Jog Rogger" as Handspring labels it
  • Approximately 2 hours of talk time, 72 hours of standby time
  • It takes approximately 1 hour to charge a fully drained battery.
  • Built in Vibrator
  • No cradle, uses a combined charger/sync cable instead
  • IR port is located on top of the Treo
  • The handheld and the radio (phone part) can be turned on and off
    independently of each other
  • Opening/Closing the lid turns the PDA on/off (you can also use the power button)
  • To turn on the radio (phone), hold down the power button until you hear the confirmation tones
  • Pressing the jog rocker opens Speed Dial, rolling the jog rocker selects a speed dial entry, and pressing the jog rocker dials the selected entry
  • Judging by the images we have seen, it would appear that the Treo introduces yet another HotSync connector design. Time will tell
Hromadka: Call me partial, but this is the first appealing smartphone that I have yet to see. If GSM can penetrate the U.S. market in areas outside major cities, the Treo k180 could very well be a "RIMM killer." As for the name "Treo" (pronounced trio), my personal theory is that somebody at Handspring noticed the Star Trek communicator resemblance.

We have removed the other pictures from this article at the request of Handspring.





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