Early Reports: Treo 700w Isn’t All That Great

If you’re a regular reader, you may remember me pining for the Treo 700w back in September when the release date was unknown. Well, the big day has finally arrived – The Windows-based smartphone is available for purchase from Verizon as of today. To me, it seemed like a nearly perfect phone: PDA functionality, Bluetooth, EVDO, the ability to add WIFI, built in camera, etc. So how does it perform in reality?

Early reports say the 700w has some very nice features, along with some problems that ruin the experience. Macintosh/technology guy David Pogue has a review in today’s NY Times, while Walter Mossberg takes a look at it in the Wall Street Journal. While both seem to really like the phone itself (hardware wise), save for a screen that isn’t as good as the Treo 650’s, the main issue is the Windows Mobile software that runs the thing.

Pogue does a very good job of describing the weird marriage of Palm and Microsoft:

From the beginning, Palm’s and Microsoft’s design philosophies were miles apart. Microsoft lived for long lists of features and 65 different ways to get at them, while Palm strove for simplicity and directness. (At one point, Palm actually employed a tap counter – a guy whose job it was to make sure no task required more than three taps on the PalmPilot’s touch screen.) How on earth can these two approaches be reconciled?

As it turns out, not very easily. The Treo 700W ($400 with a two-year Verizon commitment) is a Frankensteinian mishmash. Some of its features are so inspired and well executed, you can’t help grinning, while others are so clumsy, you smack your forehead.

In the end, as both Pogue and Mossberg note, this phone probably isn’t the one I had in mind. Instead, it’s targeted toward corporate IT departments who won’t support anything other than Microsoft-based products. This all makes me very happy I was impatient enough to buy my Motorola Razr V3C last month. There’s absolutely no buyer’s remorse here!