Treo gets battery life boost

Handspring's mobile phone-PDA combination gets a software tweak that could give older units 20 percent longer battery life

Early adopters of Handspring's Treo organiser-mobile phone may be able to give a significant boost to battery life by installing a new software upgrade.

Treo 180 and 180g handhelds manufactured in the early part of this year used an older version of Handspring's wireless software, which is based on the Palm OS. Current models have updated software that improves battery life and adds a few other tweaks, but until now early adopters couldn't take advantage of the improved software. The update was released earlier this week.

The Treo 180 Series Updater 1.0 extends the unit's standby battery life from about 80 hours to about 100 hours, depending on wireless coverage and signal strength, Handspring said. It also adds new dialogues for call forwarding and ringer preferences, and adds a language picker.

The update is available as a free download from Handspring's Web site.

Users can tell if their unit needs the update by looking at the Ringer Preferences screen. If the screen begins with "Ring Volume", the unit is compatible, and if it begins with "Sound Mode", it already has the newer software.

Treo is Handspring's entry into the converged mobile device market, combining elements of a mobile phone and a PDA. Handspring is one of the first companies to push such a product to mainstream buyers, with major mobile phone handset makers and PDA makers planning similar devices for later this year.

The device's launch was originally held up by an unspecified component problem. It has been on sale in the UK for about a month.

If it moves, we cover it. See ZDNet UK's Mobile Technology News Section for the latest news, reviews and price checks on mobile phones, PDAs, notebook computers and anything else you can take away.

Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Go to the ZDNet news forum.

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom.