Treo, Sharp rise above Comdex mobile pack

LAS VEGAS — Among the usual offerings of handhelds and notebooks at this year's Comdex show, Handspring Inc.'s Treo and Sharp Electronics Corp. stood out from the crowd.

The Treo 600 Smartphone is leagues ahead of previous Treo handheld models. Sharp's 3-D notebook takes mobile computing into another dimension.

Treo 600 Smartphone

Treo's previous claim to fame was its combination of organizer, Web browsing and phone functionality in one device, but the former design, with its flip-open lid, was bulky. Enter the Treo 600, a pocket-sized, streamlined device that reaches beyond anything Handspring has done so far.

This handheld could be called a "five-o." It's a combination phone, Palm OS organizer, wireless e-mail and messaging device, Web browser and camera. The form factor looks like a personal digital assistant molded into the size and shape of a cell phone. It features standard PDA navigation buttons, a thumb keyboard and a color screen. There is no flip cover and an earpiece is not necessary when using the device as a phone — simply hold the entire unit up to your ear and speak. Or, if you prefer, use the speakerphone feature.

Two versions of the device are available, one with GPRS/GSM phone connectivity and the other with CDMA.

The GPRS version can be used worldwide and comes with features such as six-way calling, call history, caller ID and call waiting. You can also assign unique ring tones, and even pictures, to individuals in your contact list.

Messaging includes connectivity to corporate and personal e-mail accounts and SMS capability. You can snap photos and send them to e-mail addresses and other mobile phones with the device's Multimedia Messaging Service.

The Treo 600 runs Palm Inc.'s latest operating system and comes with a USB HotSync cable and infrared information beaming capabilities.

The device's Blazer Web browser allows access to almost any Web site, including those not optimized for handhelds. The browser supports multiple Web and wireless standards including HTML 4.0, XHTML Basic and Mobile Profile, WML 1.3, cHTML (i-mode), several image formats and JavaScript. Wireless transactions are secured with 128-bit SSL encryption.

The SD/MMC expansion card slot accepts cards that can contain content, memory or additional functionality such as Bluetooth.

Handspring's Web site lists the Treo 600 with a starting price of $599, although it costs less when bundled with wireless service plans. For more information, visit

Actius RD3D

According to Sharp officials, the Actius RD3D is the world's first 3-D notebook. The images on the 15-inch LCD display reach out and grab you, or at least they look like they could, thanks to the 3-D effect.

Sharp officials developed the technology jointly with Sharp Laboratories Europe Ltd. In simple terms, the light from the LCD is divided so that each of a viewer's eyes sees a different pattern or image. When the user is centered in front of the display, the patterns align so the brain can process them correctly and create a 3-D image without the use of goggles.

Don't move too much when viewing images in 3D mode or else you'll see double, but when positioned just right, this display is amazing. Federal applications include medical and molecular modeling, flight simulation and data modeling.

When using the notebook, you can easily switch between 3-D and 2-D modes by pressing a button, and opening certain applications will trigger 3-D mode automatically. You can even read text while in 3D mode.

The graphics are powered by an Nvidia Corp. GeForce 4 440 Go graphic processing unit with 64M of dedicated graphics memory.

Notebook specifications include a 2.8 GHz Intel Corp. Pentium 4 processor, 512M of memory expandable to 1024M and a 60G hard drive. The DVD multidrive, which is a combination DVD-R/-RW/RAM and CD-R/-RW, allows the notebook to view 3-D DVD content.

The system also supports memory sticks, SD cards, SmartMedia cards and CompactFlash cards.

The Actius RD3D sells for an estimated street price of $3,299. For more information, visit


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