The Treo Pro is Palm's latest smartphone designed for business professionals, featuring support for HSDPA mobile networks, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and built-in GPS hardware for navigation applications.
As a messaging phone, the Treo Pro is a potential rival to RIM's BlackBerry models, and Palm's model is slightly longer than the BlackBerry Curve.
At 133g, it is also heavier, but about average for a modern smartphone, and we found it fits comfortably in the hand.
The Treo Pro is based on the Professional version of Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.1, which supports touch-screen input. Users can thus control the phone by keys or using a stylus stored in a slot at the rear to hit on-screen buttons.
You can also use your fingers, but the on-screen buttons are so small we found it easy to hit the wrong one by mistake.
We found that this dual capability often caused us confusion at first. For example, the home screen has shortcuts to Contacts and Internet that are on-screen 'soft' buttons at the bottom of the Today screen.
On other Windows Mobile smartphones (without a touch screen) the labels for the context-sensitive function keys appear here.
Palm has, however, put some effort into making life easier for users. A sliding switch on the Treo Pro's top edge turns off all sound, avoiding the need to dive into menus to mute the phone in meetings.
Another on the side of the device turns Wi-Fi on and off, which enabled us to re-connect at the touch of a button to any nearby access point we previously used.
Another nice touch is that the five-way navigation control flashes as a visible indication you have a voicemail waiting.
The display also goes into screensaver mode after a few seconds of inactivity to save on power, during which it shows the date and time.
There is also a Google search box on the Today screen that makes it quicker to search the web for items.
While the Treo Pro is about the same size as the Blackberry Curve, we found Palm's keyboard not up to the standard of the BlacKberry. The keys are tiny, which caused us to mistype if we tried to key in text at any speed.
However, Palm has made it easy to type characters such as @ and dot (full stop), which can make keying in email or web addresses a pain on some other devices we have seen.
We tested the Treo Pro with a Vodafone 3G SIM and found we could get a HSDPA connection when necessary from our central London offices. Web pages loaded at quite a decent speed, although many sites serve up a mobile version of their pages unless you choose a different browser than the built-in Internet Explorer.
The Treo Pro has built-in GPS that worked with the built-in copy of Google Maps on our evaluation model. Buyers that purchase their handset SIM-free should also get this, but those bought from a mobile network are likely to feature that supplier's subscription navigation service instead.
On the Treo Pro, Google Maps seems to default to using information from the cellular network to fix your location. For a more accurate fix, we had to select 'Use GPS' from the menu. As with some other handsets, it can take time to acquire a satellite fix.
As this is a First Look, we did not have time to test the battery life, but Palm quotes its 1500mAh battery pack at five hours talk time and upwards of 250 hours on standby.
While the Treo Pro has 256MB memory, only 100MB is available to the user. A Micro SD slot is available for Flash storage cards, but this requires you to slide the back off the phone to access it.
Overall, the Treo Pro looks like a promising handset for business users, but is unlikely to tempt dedicated BlackBerry owners.