Palm introduces Treo 680

Palm on Wednesday introduced its Treo 680 smartphone — a replacement for the company’s older Treo 650 model. Available initially as an exclusive for Cingular Wireless customers, the new phone costs $199.99 with a new two-year service plan; an unlocked phone that works with almost any GSM service provider costs $399.99 instead.

The Treo 680 uses Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) and offers users e-mail, messaging and Web capabilities via Cingular’s EDGE high speed data network. Users can input text using the backlit QWERTY keyboard or the 320 x 320 pixel touchscreen display. The Treo 680 uses Palm OS, so it’s compatible with a wide range of applications that are compatible with existing Treo and Palm models.

Unlike past Treo models, there’s no antenna nub sticking out of the top of the unit. The Treo 680 also features improved Radio Frequency (RF) sensitivity for better phone performance, according to Palm. It also has an SD/MMC/SDIO-compatible expansion card interface and Bluetooth 1.2 support for headsets and other peripherals.

Besides the redesigned casing, the Treo 680 also features an improved user interface that takes fewer keystrokes to navigate, with a customizable “Favorites” bar that can include speed dials, Web links, links to frequently used applications and other shortcuts. On the back of the Treo 680 is a 640 x 480 pixel digital camera with “self portrait mirror.”

The 1200mAh rechargeable Lithium Ion battery is good for about four hours of talk time, according to Palm, or up to 300 hours of standby time. The Treo 680 is also lighter and moderately slimmer than the 650, measuring 4.4 x 2.3 x 0.8 inches (0.1 inches less deep) and 5.5 ounces (0.8 ounces less than the 650).

The Treo 680 comes in a variety of colors. The Graphite finish is the only one available from Cingular, but Arctic, Copper and Crimson are options if you choose the unlocked version from Palm itself.

The Treo 680 include Palm Desktop software to sync to the Macintosh. It requires Mac OX v10.2 to 10.4.

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