Handspring intros Treo 600 Smartphones

The sleek design is the result of significant research and development focused on reducing size, maximizing the utility and ease of use of both phone and data functions, and minimizing trade-offstypically found in converged products. All products in the new series, to be called Treo 600, will combine a world-class phone, a Palm OS 5-based organizer with messaging, email, and web browsingfeatures. The first Treo 600 products are expected this fall worldwide.

“In product design, making things smaller often makes the product better because it forces designers to break through old design ideas. Treo 600 truly is a breakthrough for smartphones,” said Jeff Hawkins, chairman and chief product officer for Handspring. “Our team was very creative in shrinking the product to an impressively small size, while at the same time making it more powerful and easier to use. As a phone and a data device, Treo 600 delivers the best of both worlds.”

Handspring is working with leading wireless operators including Sprint in North America and Orange S.A. throughout Europe to customize products for their respective networks, applications and brands. Sprint and PalmSource, provider of the world-leading Palm OS, will show the Treo this week in their exhibits at CeBit America in New York.

Keyboard Design: Breakthrough Utility in a Small Form Factor
Treo 600’s keyboard design makes dialing the phone and sending messages and email easier than before, even with the significantly reduced size of the product. A unique domed key shape and carefully crafted layout makes typing fast and simple. Each key on Treo 600 has more surface area than those on existing Treo products, and letters and numbers have been enlarged for better readability. In user testing for speed and accuracy of text input, Treo 600 performed on par with RIM’s Blackberry keyboard and significantly faster than Graffiti handwriting recognition, found in most Palm OS handhelds, and T-9, the text input method found in most mobile phones.

New Levels of Performance and Simplicity
Treo 600 products will feature an ARM processor and Palm OS 5 for fast performance, especially beneficial for accelerating graphics-intensive applications, managing large databases, and for multimedia functions like sound and video playback. A five-way navigation system (up, down, left, right, center) tightly integrated with the software makes it easy to move within and between applications using one hand. The QWERTY keyboard is also tied closely to the software to make it usable for much more than data entry. For example, phone numbers, applications and even specific application functions (such as looking up a specific web page or addressing an email) can be assigned to any of 26 different keys for instant one-touch execution.

Advanced Feature Set
Additional features include a new proxyless version of the Handspring Blazer web browser to enable full web browsing and secure access to corporate intranets, an expansion slot for third-party secure digital and MMC solutions such as MP3 and wireless networking solutions, a built-in VGA camera for taking and sending pictures and setting up picture caller ID, and a dual speaker architecture for high-quality phone and system audio. A dual-band CDMA radio and a quad-band GSM/GPRS radio will power respective versions of the product.

Handspring is working with carriers and business partners to prepare rich email, SMS, and MMS solutions that will be customized for specific channels and announced in more detail this summer. In the coming weeks, Handspring plans to offer free developer tools for companies to build additional software and hardware expansion solutions.

Treo 600 series products are expected to come at a price premium relative to current Treo offerings, and Handspring plans to offer a compelling trade-up incentive for owners of wireless Treo products.

Pictures and discussions can be found here.

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