Palm unveils slim Treo smartphone, integrates Google Maps

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

New York (NY) - Palm today took the wraps off a new Treo smartphone, which will become available within a few weeks in the U.S. The new phone maintains the general appeal of its predecessors, but packs more features in a smaller, more colorful form factor. Palm also has begun offering Google Maps for the Treo as a free download.

Palm unveiled the Treo 680 today at the Digital Life conference in New York, offering a new contender in the smartphone field that promises ease of use and "stellar" phone capability in a slim and compact form factor. Following the firm's sobering fiscal Q1 2007 earnings report, Palm positions the new device as tool to create new carrier relationships and expand the firm's global reach. Palm said that it will add 20 more carriers that will offer and support the new Treo.

Technical details about the Treo 680 were scarce. The company plans to publish more information such as exact specifications, availability and price through carriers in the "coming weeks and months." So far, we only know that the device will sport a 320x320 pixel screen, 64 MB user-accessible memory, a new Blazer 4.5 web browser, MP3 playback out of the box, photo sharing capability as well as Bluetooth, which can be used for common headset connectivity, but also as a bridge to use the phone as a wireless modem. A revamped messenger is now able to show different communications as threads.

treo 680

The feature set of the 680 appears to be a solid improvement over the 650 model and as a move to fend off competitors such as the recently announced Blackberry Pearl. It is the first of two Treo models Palm hopes will "address the market dynamics responsible for our first quarter revenue shortfall." With the 680 being the higher-end version, Palm will also ship a device that aims "improve" Palm's pricing position in the smartphone market.

Palm also announced a free download of Google Maps for Treo smartphones. The software is tied to Google's online service and informs users about traffic conditions in 30 cities, provides driving directions, local search results for business locations as well as satellite and aerial views. The service is available for the Treo models 600, 650, 680 and 700p.