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Tracking the New Treos

The blogosphere has been aflame recently with reports of new Treo models soon to emerge from the Palm design factory. Given the buzz that has accompanied the release of the 700 models, it's worth paying attention to these rumors, half-baked or not. The new Treos – said to operate on UMTS/GSM networks and to be the first new Treos with a substantially redesigned exterior in more than four years – will likely be aimed at the enterprise market and will be catnip for a certain class of dedicated smartphone junkies.

The reports began circulating late last year, with a claim from an analyst at Sagio Investments that sometime in late 2006 Palm would release a "fancier," "more stylish" Treo, dubbed "Hollywood" and designed to operate on 3G networks in Europe. That was followed by the dissemination of an allegedly "exclusive Cingular roadmap" displaying not one but two new Treos – codenamed "Lennon" and "Nitro" and running Windows Mobile and the Palm OS, respectively – to be released this October.

Like CIA agents tracing an Osama Bin Laden sighting – well, OK, much more doggedly than that – the Treo trackers next turned up a blurry, anonymously shot photo, purporting to show the "Hollywood" model, and lacking the much-derided external antenna of previous Treos. This device is said to be 3G-based, have 128 MBytes of storage, and use a 412MHz XScale processor.

Perhaps wearying of all the speculation, Palm and Vodafone finally released a statement saying that, indeed, they are working together on a new Treo: "The Palm Treo smartphone that will result from this collaboration," the release said, "will represent an industry first by operating on Vodafone's 3G/UMTS network and delivering the hallmark Palm experience on top of the Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system."

The new Treo will go out to Vodafone customers in Western Europe before the end of 2006.

What it won't have is built-in WiFi, a fact that has European Palmfreaks – many of whom must pay beaucoup d'argent for data usage above 1GB-5GB limits per month – fuming. One commentator has actually suggested a boycott of the new sleeker models: "For people who are disgruntled with this arrogant behavior of Palm, we recommend not to buy Palm Treos for UMTS/GSM (without Wi-Fi) but instead wait a bit and get one of several phones, both Pocket PC phones and MS Smartphone devices, that are coming soon and that… will also have built-in Wi-Fi."

Somehow I don't think that's going to dent sales of the new Treos too badly.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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