Palm reveals an affordable, media friendly Treo 680

Treo 680 series and Google Maps for Palm OS-based Treos unveiled at DigitalLife trade show

Palm last week announced a new series of Treo smart phones designed to appeal to "price-sensitive" customers. The company also announced the immediate availability of a new, free Google Maps application for Treos based on the Palm operating system.

The announcements of the Treo 680 series and Google Maps for Palm OS-based Treos came at the DigitalLife trade show. Palm CEO Ed Colligan was mum on pricing, but said the Treo 680 would ship in November and would be "lower cost and easier to use than any other Palm." The new Treo is a quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE handset for use in the United States and Europe.

The Treo 680 targets today's media-hungry consumers. It comes with music, video, and photo slide-show players, and Palm says for a limited time it will sell unlocked versions of the phones with a Yahoo music bundle that will include a 1GB SD Card, a stereo headset, and a 30-day free trial to Yahoo's music service. Colligan said Palm expects 20 or more carriers around the world to offer the Treo 680 by the end of Palm's fiscal year next June 1.

Fashion-conscious Treo 680 buyers will be able to choose from four colors: copper, arctic, crimson, and graphite. The Treo 680 has an internal antenna and is smaller and sleeker than previous models. The phone runs the new Palm OS 5.4.

New mail and chat features

Other features include an enhanced version of Palm's VersaMail e-mail application (version 3.5), which allows for more robust syncing of e-mail and now contacts and calendars as well, the company said. Another update brings a feature that displays SMS text-messaging exchanges as "threaded chats," similar to instant messaging.

Among other bells and whistles is the ability to respond to an incoming call with a preset text message such as "I'm busy now." The bundled Dataviz Documents To Go productivity software now supports viewing Adobe PDF files as well as editing and creating Microsoft Office files.

The Treo 680 smart phone also can function as an MP3 player, and has an integrated digital camera, camcorder, and video player. It sports a 320-by-320 touch screen, a full QWERTY keyboard, and Bluetooth 1.2. The 680 comes with 64MB of usable memory, with expansion available via an SD Card. Palm says the unit's battery is capable of 4 hours of talk time and 300 hours on standby.

Google Maps for Treos

The new Palm OS-optimized Google Maps for mobile lets Treo users get directions, perform local searches, view satellite imagery, and receive traffic updates while on the go.

Users will also be able to save favorite locations and routes.

The application will work on the Treo 680, 700p, 650, and 600 smart phones.

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Tom Spring

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