Handspring raises curtain on Treo 600 series

Handspring Inc. unveiled the design for its new Treo 600 smart phones, which will be smaller and more compact than previous models while at the same time boasting faster processing speed for graphics and a built-in camera, the company said Wednesday.

The 600 series handsets combine a phone, a Palm OS 5-based organizer, with messaging, e-mail and Web browsing, and are set to be available worldwide in the third quarter.

The real innovation in this series of the company's popular Treo line is its size, according to Handspring. Although the Mountain View, California, company did not give design measurements for the 600 models, it said that the handsets will be significantly smaller than previous models yet feature a QWERTY keyboard, making it easier for users to dial and send messages because the keys have more surface area and the letters and numbers have been enlarged.

The 600 series will also feature processors from Arm Ltd., which will speed multimedia functions like sound and video playback, Handspring said. The new design has a built-in VGA (video graphics array) camera, a proxy-less version of Handspring's Blazer Web browser and an expansion slot for third-party products.

Handspring said that it is working with wireless operators such as Sprint Corp. and Orange SA to customize series 600 products for their networks, applications and brands.

Although pricing was not revealed, Handspring said that the 600 series would be priced "relative to current Treo offerings." The handheld maker is currently selling its 300 model on its Web site for US$299, although it was previously priced at $499. The 300 model combined phone, organizer, e-mail and browser capabilities.

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