The New York Times
The electronics industry operates like a very expensive game of
leapfrog. You buy something in April, and then a newer, faster, less
expensive version comes out in May. Rats!
On the other hand, you might get lucky; you might not buy in until the
better version comes along. There you sit on the train, on the plane
or at the baseball field, smugly looking over at the poor saps who
bought last month's phone, music player or camera.
If you've been shopping for a smartphone - a multipurpose cellphone
with Tic-Tac keys for tapping out e-mail - the game is picking up
speed. This week, Palm unveiled the latest model of its popular Treo
phone, the 700P, only four months after the previous one.
The Treo has found a special place in the hearts of the upwardly
technical. It offers a beautiful phone that fits sweetly in your hand,
displays photos on a big, bright touch screen, does e-mail and Web
browsing just about as well as a cellphone can - and doubles as a Palm
organizer, effortlessly synchronizing its calendar, address book and
Microsoft Office documents with your Mac or PC.
All-in-one gadgets rarely do any single job as well as a dedicated one
(think scanner-printer-fax machines or camera-music players). But the
Treo has always come deliciously close.
Somehow, Palm has managed to pack into it a BlackBerry-style keyboard
(brightly illuminated, at that); a physical switch that silences all
sounds (which, as the overture begins, you can hit without even taking
the thing out of your pocket); a built-in digital camera; a voice-memo
button that can also record phone calls (which is great to have when
someone starts rattling off driving directions over the phone); a slot
for an SD memory card (to hold more music, photos and videos); a
removable battery (4.5 hours of talk time, 300 hours standby); and a
five-way rocker switch that lets you operate most functions with one
Somehow, all of this works together without becoming a train wreck of