By WALTER S. MOSSBERG
For Americans who want a smart cellphone with a built-in keyboard for
typing email, the best choice by far has been PalmOne's Treo 650, sold
by most major U.S. wireless carriers.
The standard BlackBerry hand-helds from Research In Motion make clunky
phones, and the slimmer BlackBerry 7100, while an acceptable phone,
lacks a full keyboard. The models using Microsoft's hand-held software
have either lacked keyboards altogether or been too large to make
comfortable phones. In contrast, the Treo is both roomy enough to be a
good hand-held email device and compact enough to be a good phone.
Starting today, Verizon Wireless will introduce in the U.S. the first
Microsoft-based smart phone with a built-in keyboard that is about the
same shape, size and weight as the Treo. This new phone, the $599
Samsung i730, has one major capability the $399 Treo lacks -- the
ability to surf the Web and to send and receive email at broadband
The new Samsung can operate at speeds roughly comparable to home
digital subscriber line, or DSL, connections through Verizon's
wireless Broadband Access network, which works on a wireless
technology called EVDO. Or it can use speedy Wi-Fi wireless networking
at places like coffee shops and airports.
I don't expect to see an EVDO-capable Treo until very late this year
or early in 2006. And the Treo lacks Wi-Fi capability. So the Samsung
is the fastest email and Web device with a built-in keyboard that is
small enough to be used comfortably as a phone. It will be available
starting today for corporate customers and will be in Verizon stores
in a couple of weeks.
I have been testing the new i730 and comparing it to the Treo 650 from
Sprint that I carry as my own phone. The Samsung worked as promised
for making voice calls, accessing Web sites, and sending and receiving
emails. It also played music and videos and displayed photos, though
unlike my Sprint Treo, the configuration Verizon sells lacks a camera.