When you're firmly in the lead, you can coast for quite a while before falling behind the competition.
The Palm Treo 755p certainly has momentum in terms of ease of use, power and the success of Palm's celebrated Treo 700p.
For the 755p, Palm sawed off the antenna and slimmed down the body somewhat.
That makes for a fine handheld, but considering the challenges from other cutting-edge smartphones, I seriously worry about its future.
The Treo 755p is basically a 700p in the body of a Treo 680. That means it's one-tenth of an inch thinner and a bit lighter than the 700p (4.4 by 2.3 by 0.8 inches; 5.6 ounces), with the back made of a velvety soft-touch plastic that feels silky in your hand.
The Treo's bulbous look was fine a year or two ago, but nowadays it seems about two-tenths of an inch too thick; other devices this stout tend to have slide-out keyboards or some other reason for their chubbiness.
Want to know how it works? Go read my Treo 700p review.
Seriously, the 755p came out exactly on a par with the 700p in pretty much all of my tests, and it runs the same OS version with pretty much identical core software.
To recap: The Treo has a beautiful, sharp, transflective 320- by 320-pixel screen that looks great in direct sunlight.
With its 312-MHz Marvell processor, most actions in the now three-year-old Palm OS 5.4 feel almost instantaneous.
It has a keypad of very tiny, domed keys and a slightly picky touch screen. It runs on Sprint's speedy EV-DO network.
The 755p, like the 700p, is a decent phone. I'd even venture to say that the 755p sounded a little less wobbly, but that may have just been network conditions coming into play.
The earpiece and speakerphone are both loud enough, and transmissions sound fine. You can connect Bluetooth mono headsets, but there's no support for Bluetooth stereo music playback.
There's also, irritatingly, no support for voice dialing over Bluetooth — if you want to buy either the Nuance or VoiceSignal voice-dialing suites for this phone, you'll be stuck with using them in handheld mode.
Talk time was slightly shorter than the Treo 700p, but still perfectly good at over 4.5 hours.
Vista, on the other hand, isn't as well supported. You can't install programs onto a Palm device from a Vista machine, so you need to find workarounds.
The 755p has the same version of Palm's PIM programs, the Blazer browser and the VersaMail e-mail program, as on current 700 models, and both are, sadly, looking a little old.
Though page data loads quickly on the EV-DO Rev 0 connection (I got around 600 Kbps), Blazer makes a hash of tables and heavily formatted wide pages.
Unfortunately, you have no alternative, because Opera Mini crashed on my 755p test unit.
VersaMail downloads and displays messages very quickly and syncs with Exchange ActiveSync, but it doesn't support most Yahoo! accounts or embedded images in HTML e-mails.
The 1.3-megapixel camera produced lab photos remarkably similar to the 700p's, even though they were taken a year apart. The shots seem dim and unsaturated, though bright areas are blown out. There's also a wobbly 352-by-288 video mode.
You can store your images (and MP3 music for the included pTunes music player) on a MiniSD card in a slot on the side, a step down from the 700p's standard SD slot.
For multimedia, you'll want to look to the wealth of Palm-compatible third-party software that's readily available. The most recent version of Pocket Tunes Deluxe ($37.95 from www.pocket-tunes.com) syncs with Windows Media Player and plays protected music files, and the free TCPMP media player plays popular nonprotected video file formats well.
In an attempt to make the device look a little fresher, Palm burned the DocumentsToGo Microsoft Office document editing suite and the popular game Bejeweled into the ROM of the device.
But if you look at the versions of those applications, it just proves my point that the Treo feels outdated.
DocumentsToGo Version 8 is in here — but the current version is 10, which adds some critical compatibilities. And Bejeweled 2 is an even better version of the game.
The 700p was far enough ahead of the pack, especially in ease of use, that it got the Editors' Choice easily last year.
My deepest concerns about the 755p aren't about how good it is today, but how obsolete it will seem in a year or two.
This phone is running a three-year-old OS, with a year-old browser version and a bunch of other technologies that haven't been updated in a while.
Palm OS 5 software development is slowing, though there are thousands of applications out there. And other platforms, especially BlackBerry, are catching up.
At $429 and up with a two-year contract ($279 with rebates) it's being priced as a high-end device, not an entry-level model, but it lacks the latest features that would justify the price.
Don't get me wrong. The Palm Treo 755p is a good handheld. It's easy to use, quick to respond, and has thousands of third-party programs available for it. But the competition is climbing fast.
For instance, the new BlackBerry Curve for Cingular equals the Treo on ease of use and outmatches it on some aspects of media savvy.
Also, Microsoft Windows Mobile devices come in a wide range of forms and provide an upgrade path that Palm OS may not have.
The Treo 755p will go on sale at Sprint on May 14.
BOTTOM LINE: Palm's latest Treo, the 755p, is really a sawed-off Treo 700p. Because the Treo 700p was a great PDA/phone, that will be plenty for most people, but there's absolutely nothing cutting-edge about this new device.
PROS: Still a powerful, easy-to-use smartphone, now in a smaller case.
CONS: Software, especially the OS, is starting to look really old. No Bluetooth stereo.
COMPANY: Palm Inc
Price: $579.99 List
Service Provider: Sprint PCS
Operating System: Palm OS
Screen Size: 2.5 inches
Screen Details: 320x320, 65k-color TFT LCD screen
Web Browser: Yes
Bands: 850, 1900
High-Speed Data: 1xRTT, EVDO
Special Features: Music
EDITOR RATING: Three and a half out of five stars
Copyright © 2007 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Ziff Davis Media Inc. is prohibited.