Palm Treo Goes Pro to Battle iPhone and BlackBerry

New phone packs power and smoothes the edges of the company's aging Treos.

Palm's Treo Pro can be fun, too, with its media player.
Palm's Treo Pro can be fun, too, with its media player.

Palm is taking aim at globe-trotting execs with its newest smartphone, the Palm Treo Pro. The handset slims and smoothes the physical edges of the company's aging Treos and tries to regain some of the competitive edge it has lost to the BlackBerry and iPhone.

Surprisingly, Palm hasn't lined up a U.S. carrier to sell the phone. Buyers here will have to pay $550 for an "unlocked" phone that can work with T-Mobile and AT&T, including its high-speed data network. Palm will have carriers selling the handset in Europe and Australia when it hits the market this fall.

Besides the sleeker and rounder look than its predecessors, the Treo Pro comes packed with goodies. There is Wi-Fi, GPS, a bigger touchscreen, a 2-megapixel camera, a slot for a memory card, a standard headphone jack, and support for wireless networks worldwide.

Many consumers might want that kind of power, which Palm has proved with its successful Centro devices. But Palm's site markets the Pro at pros, the stiffs who get phones through their companies.

That's reinforced with the Pro using Windows Mobile, which emphasizes getting things done through compatibility with corporate E-mail systems and Microsoft Office software. Palm also has little choice these days, with its still-likable Palm operating system getting creaky.

By the way, it appears the software's successor is limping toward the grave. Several years ago, the company sold its Palm OS to a Japanese company called Access, which is said to have lost the only carrier that appeared ready to release a phone based on Palm's successor.


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