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Want to buy one of those new Treo 680s? Figure on spending $199. Maybe a little more, but I doubt it.

In one of the stranger press conference events of late, Palm President Ed Colligan at the Treo 680 introduction at the DigitalLife show (full disclosure: a show put on by our parent company, Ziff Davis), had to do the whole product shtick without being able to tell the price.

The rise of the smart phone combined with the fall of the smart phone price has been one of the high points of technology introductions this year.

We cover the Treo 680 product features in this article by Anne Chen.

Those phones from Nokia, Motorola and now Palm are a strong challenge to old notions of what a PDA, cell phone and handheld Web access device can accomplish when all are smooshed into one package.

Click here to read more about Palm’s attempt to reach consumers with its Treo 680.

These devices can give you a phone (obviously, but one that works in whatever country you land), but also e-mail, contacts, a quick way to blog both content and photos, a Google Maps application to help you get around, a Web browser geared to the phone screen and a strong reason to leave the laptop at home.

However, all those features come over a network supplied by a carrier such as Verizon or Sprint. The power of the carrier is apparent in allowing or disallowing devices on the network and also, as was obvious from the Treo introduction, in setting and subsidizing the device price.

I’d argue that the reason Ed Colligan couldn’t reveal the price was because he is not the final arbiter in the price-setting process.

At the show I did run into a consultant who said he was 99 percent sure that the price would be $199 along with a carrier contract.

I’ll take that figure as the most accurate guess, but the $199 price would drive the Treo to a much lower price point than the 650 Treo PDA phone, which Amazon carries for $440.

In any case it is a juggling act for smart-phone providers these days, and if you get a chance, click on my Treo photos from the press conference, one of which shows Colligan trying to display several phones all at once. Now that is juggling.

eWEEK magazine editor in chief Eric Lundquist can be reached at

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