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Treo 600 ready for launch

Orange and Handspring ring in smartphone for Europe

Mobile phone operator Orange today extended its line of smartphones with the launch of the Treo 600, which features the OS5 operating system from handheld maker Palm.

The move comes two days after Orange, the wireless subsidiary of France Telecom, introduced a new clamshell phone, the MPx200, manufactured by Motorola and featuring Microsoft's Windows Mobile 2003 Smartphone software.

The Paris company has secured exclusive rights to offer the Treo 600 to its customers in France, the UK and Switzerland. The smartphone, a combined handset and digital organiser manufactured by Handspring, is being acquired by Palm, Orange said in a statement.

Available in October, the Treo 600 will be priced between €399 (£279) and €459 in France (depending on the service package) and £299.99 in the UK, according to Orange spokeswoman Anne-Sophie Lotgering.

As well as allowing users to make and receive phone calls and access classic PDA functions such as an address book and calendar, the Treo 600 supports emailing, internet surfing, and will take and send pictures from an embedded VGA (video graphics array) camera.

Powered by an ARM processor, the device has a large touch-sensitive screen and a built-in Qwerty keyboard. The keyboard has been designed to make it easier for users to dial and send messages, with keys that provide more surface area as well as bigger letters and numbers. A five-way navigation system (up, down, left, right and centre) is also included to aid smooth navigation of the various functions, Orange said.

Other features include an expansion slot for memory cards and add-ons such as an MP3 music file player and wireless networking solutions. The phone supports both GSM (global system for mobile communications) and GPRS (general packet radio service) technologies, the company said.

Just as it did with Motorola, Orange has collaborated with Handspring to develop several exclusive services for its mobile phone customers. These include Orange Backup for storing personal and business data such as contacts and calendar dates on the Orange network, and Orange Update, a feature for updating phones with the latest software and applications over the airwaves.

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