The remarkably hackable Palm Treo 750V

You can make it go faster than Vodafone intended

On the whole, the marriage of Palm Treo hardware and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 5 operating system is a happy one. In the past, Treo used PalmOS which isn’t bad at all, but doesn’t have the might of Microsoft to back it, especially with developers.

You’ll find this Palm-Microsoft joint effort in newer devices like the Vodafone-branded Treo 750V; if you need a very capable phone with the smarts to handle your email and connect to the internet in a variety of ways bar wi-fi, this is one to consider. You get the Treo-style chiclet keyboard which is nicely tactile, plus the five-way navigator as well as the usual Windows keys. This makes the phone easy to use single-handedly. The stylus hardly ever needs to come out of its holster in fact.

The features list is long for the 750V: a 300MHz processor, 128MB memory with 60MB available to users and a 1.3 megapixel camera. A Mini-SD memory card slot lets you bump up the storage capacity.

For GSM, you have 850, 900, 1,800 and 1,900MHz support and apparently also UMTS 3G on 850, 900 and 2100 (Vodafone NZ uses the highest frequency band). Speaker-phone, hands-free headset jack, USB and Bluetooth round off the Treo 750V package, which squeezes into a modest 111 by 58 by 22 mm case that weighs 154 grams. It feels good and solid too, without any creaks or rattles.

The Treo 750V costs $1,300 inc GST, so it’s in the “how much???” territory. You do get a good complement of productivity apps with it though, which should appeal to handheld-savvy executives.

Disappointments include the small, 240 by 240 pixel screen which is legible enough but too cramped with all the info Windows Mobile likes to display. Battery life is a total let-down. You won’t go through a working day if you actually use the Treo 750V.

If you buy one of these, get a spare battery, or a 2100mAh replacement for the puny 1200mAh job that the phone comes with. The cables for the Treo 750V use proprietary headers, so don’t lose them. You can, however, charge the phone over USB.

Call quality is so-and-so: the ASUS 1210 was a champ here, and the Treo 750V can’t match it.

Enough already, let’s hot-rod the 750V: you see, it’s not just UMTS but also HSDPA-capable. In theory, that means 3.6Mbit/s

downloads, and 384Kbit/s uploads. The increased speed and lower latency for HSDPA makes the Treo 750V more fun to use as a modem, but Vodafone doesn’t want to play, and ships the phone with UMTS enabled only. It’s easy enough to enable HSDPA, though. Google for this file: and install it. If the installation is okay, you should, after a soft reset, have an HSDPA capable 750V. I had to install the Hermes Tweaker 1.4 (2.1b also works) before the HSDPA hack took effect.

While the usual warnings apply (you’re on your own if things go wrong), I haven’t had any ill-effects.

Instead, I get download speeds between 700Kbit/s and 1Mbit/s now. Nice.

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Tags VodafoneWindows MobilePalm Treo

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