Saturday, June 1, 2002

Handspring adds color to the Treo line


By Steve Niles

Handspring has just added two new models to its line of Treo handheld devices. The new Treo 270 is an update to the Treo 180, adding a full-color display, a backlight for its built-in QWERTY keyboard, and enhanced battery life. Like the previous models in the Treo line, it's a wireless communicator that integrates a mobile phone, wireless applications like email and Internet browsing, and a Palm OS organizer all in one.

The Treo 270 is pictured in Figure A.


The Treo 270 adds new features to the product line. (click for larger image)

The new Treo 90, however, is a departure from the previous Treo models in that it has no wireless capability. It has the same organizer features as any other Palm OS device, but it has the familiar Treo built-in keyboard for those who shun Grafitti. It also has a full-color display, 16 MB of memory, version 4.1 of the Palm OS, and a long-lasting rechargeable battery. Most interesting is the fact that the Treo 90 is the first Handspring device to use a Secure Digital and MultiMediaCard expansion slot instead of the traditional Handspring Springboard expansion slot.

The Treo 90 is pictured in Figure B.


The Treo 90 has no wireless capability.

Treo 270

The Treo 270 is available for $499 with GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) service activation or $699 without a service plan. For the next three weeks, though, owners of Handspring's VisorPhone Springboard module can purchase Treo 270 for $499 without activation of a new service plan.

The device is available now from Handspring's Web site (at and will become available through authorized Handspring retailers in the coming weeks. In addition, Treo 270 will be available throughout Europe and Asia where Treo 180 and 180g are already sold. Handspring expects to announce availability in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Latin America in the months to come.

According to Handspring, the Treo 270's large, colorful touch screen is supposed to set the product apart from other high-end mobile phones. They say the color display also offers better clarity and readability of text and graphics, making it ideal for Web browsing, viewing photos, and playing games. However, it should be noted that both the Treo 270 and Treo 90 have 12-bit color (meaning it can display over 4,000 colors). Most other color Palm OS handhelds have 16-bit color screens.

The built-in, backlit QWERTY keyboard is nice in that you can still type even in low light conditions. The Treo 270's increased battery life is also important, considering its phone functionality. According to Handspring, it allows up to three hours of talk time and 150 hours of standby time.