Wednesday, March 1, 2006

PDA phone wars: the Treo 700w vs. the Treo 650 vs. the PPC-6700


By David Gewirtz

If you're in the market for a PDA smartphone, you've got a lot of great choices. Here at Computing Unplugged, we've been tracking the war between Palm and Pocket PC devices since January of 1998, so when Palm came out with their first Pocket PC smartphone, we thought this event worthy of investigation.

In this article, we're letting three leading devices shoot it out. The big news, of course, is Palm's Treo 700w, their first foray into the Pocket PC world and possibly a taste of the future of Palm handhelds. Another exciting device is the PPC-6700, Sprint's version of the amazingly powerful and versatile device we reviewed previously in its Verizon incarnation.

"It's not that it's a bad device by any means. It's just that there are better choices. Let's hope that's not Palm's epitaph."

And then, we compare those two devices to the venerable Treo 650, arguably one of the most popular smartphones out there. The Treo 650, of course, runs the Palm OS, syncs with Outlook or the Palm Desktop, and is the classic Palm smartphone.

The hardware

Let's kick it off with a look at all three devices, as shown in Figure A.


From left to right, the Sprint PPC-6700, the Verizon Treo 700w, and the Sprint Treo 650. (click for larger image)

As you can see, the two Treos appear virtually identical, with the new Treo 700w just one tenth of an ounce heavier. The PPC6700 is much boxier and less comfortable to hold than the other two devices.

Amazingly, given all it packs inside, as Figure B shows, the PPC-6700 is slightly smaller than the two Treos.


From top down, the Treo 700w, the Treo 650, the PPC-6700, and an Altoids tin. (click for larger image)


Of course, one of the things that distinguishes the PPC-6700 from the Treos is the PPC-6700's slide-out keyboard, as shown in Figure C.


The slide-out keyboard is cool, but it does feel like it might break. (click for larger image)

I've always had mixed feelings about slide-out goodies in handheld devices. On one hand, it's amazing all that power is packed into a tiny space. On the other, I'm always convinced that the more moving parts, the more chance there is for breakage.