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Review: Palm Treo 800w

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Is It Your Type? Body The 3 S's  

Sleeker, slimmer than its predecessors, the 800w looks more modern in this iPhone age and lies lighter in any pocket, shirt, shorts, slacks or jacket. But its slightly thinner profile – .01 inches shorter, not including the 700w's stub antenna, .02 inches slimmer side-to-side, .17 inches thinner front-to-back – slightly reduces the space between the keys. Palm also has rearranged the navigation keys, but not in a good way.

Below the 800w's 2.5-inch 320 x 320 pixel screen are two completely flush and identically-colored soft keys that blend nearly invisibly into the phone's gray surface. Directly below these are the silver Windows Start menu key (on the left) and the "ok" key (on the right), also flush with the 800w's surface. These silver action keys and the nearly invisible soft menu keys are around 1/32d of an inch apart. Throughout my review period I often hit the Start or "ok" button when I meant to hit one the soft keys, and vice versa.
Below the Windows Start button is a calendar button, below the "ok" button an email button, found on other non-Sprint Treos but new compared to the 700w. The same size/shaped flush keys also could lead to miss-hits.

The 800w's keyboard is a hair more tightly packed than on other Treos. These squeezed keys require a bit more care and dexterity while typing than on the 700w. In addition, the key backlighting is far less bright than the 700w and other Treos. You don't miss the brighter backlighting on the alpha keys, but the dialpad could use the help in bright room or sunlight to help quickly differentiate the numbers from their dull white background. I had to turn the brightness up all the way, which of course also overly-lit the screen, to get the keys even close to the brightness of the keys on other Treos.

Next to the speaker/ringer mute button on the top rim of the phone is a handy new direct WiFi activation button; on the right side are the infrared eye and the covered microSD slot that requires a sharp finger nail to pry open.

The left side volume toggle keys are slightly raised but the space between the "up" and "down" keys are more difficult to discern by feel than the more distinctly shaped and wider-spaced volume keys on previous Treos. The "action" key below the volume toggles defaults to voice memo recording but can be re-assigned.

Palm has replaced the 700w's proprietary power plug and 2.5mm jack with a single industry standard microUSB jack. This single jack solution is both good news and bad – you can use any microUSB power charger, but now you're restricted to connecting only microUSB headphones. Personally, I'd rather have a separate 3.5mm jack and access to a wider choice of headphones.

On the rear of the 800w is the 2 MP camera lens adjacent to a self-portrait dot mirror and the unfortunately-placed speaker. I understand from a space efficiency point-of-view why phone makers place speakers on the rear of a phone, but from a usage point-of-view, it make no sense whatsoever, as I'll explain later.


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