Handspring to color Treo

On Tuesday, Handspring, the first of the Palm OS licensees, will unveil a color version of the Treo handheld device which combines Palm organizer applications along with a full-function cellular phone.

The new 270 model will be priced at US$499 with service activation, but at $699 without service. According to a Handspring spokesperson, this is a typical cell phone handset strategy wherein the service provider underwrites the cost of the hardware. The monochrome model is now $399.

Although Handspring executives would not talk about the Treo 270 prior to next week's launch, the company's filing to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is a matter of public record and the details on the new product come from the FCC's Web site.

"The Treo is basically a Treo 180 that incorporates a color display," according to test results by Celltech Research Laboratories in Kelowna, British Columbia, published at the FCC site.

The report goes on to say that the only changes in the 270 are based on the fact that the display is color. All Treo modules use the same radio frequency module from the same vendor, the test report said.

Although the internals are similar, there are differences in the external dimensions with model 270 model slightly thicker than the 180 to accommodate the color circuitry. The model 270 also includes a backlit display for both the keyboard and screen. The 180 uses only a backlit screen.

TreoMail will continue to give users access to Microsoft Exchange Server for corporate e-mail accounts but support for Lotus Domino, the Lotus Notes server, is still not available.

The Treo line offers cellular service from both Cingular and Voicestream and can be upgraded to GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) via a software download as it becomes available.

Cell phone features on the Treo line include three-way calling, speaker phone, caller ID, and instant lookup.

Published reports also indicate Handspring will unveil a Treo organizer model without wireless capability. This has led to speculation that the Visor line of handheld organizers will be discontinued at some point in the future.

Product line manager, Calin Pacurariu, at Handspring in Mountain View, Calif., would not acknowledge the rumors but did say that Handspring's focus is on the Treo.

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