This week Handspring will officially unveil a new Treo handheld model, the Treo 270, a colour upgrade to the monochrome 180.

The 270 will be priced at £549 without connection. According to a Handspring spokesperson, this is a typical cell phone handset strategy wherein the service provider underwrites the cost of the hardware. The monochrome model is £499.

With the addition of colour and a beefier battery, one industry analyst believes the 270 is the answer to two of the major issues with the monochrome 180 model.

"Battery life was unacceptable. Some users were getting only an hour and 15 minutes talk time. The other issue is colour. Users want it," said David Hayden, president of MobileWeek, a mobile and wireless consultancy.

The 270 with the larger battery weighs in at 5.4 ounces, has a claimed talk time of three hours, and weighs 0.2 ounces more than the 170.

Colour palmed The Treo 270 is essentially a Model 180 that now incorporates a colour display. The units will come with 16MB of memory, a 12-bit, 4,000-colour display, and a backlit keyboard - a feature not previously available on the 170.

As in previous models, the 270 includes all of the Palm OS organizer applications and comes with a USB HotSync cable.

TreoMail will continue to give users access to Microsoft Exchange Server for corporate email accounts, but support for Lotus Domino, the Lotus Notes server, is still not available.

Hayden likes the TreoMail service, which uses either a server side solution or a desktop redirector over Port 443. However, at a £549 price point, the enterprise may be slow to adopt the units, Hayden said.

The Treo line offers dual band, either 900/1,900MHz or 900/1,800MHz, cellular service from both Cingular and Voicestream and can be upgraded to GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) via a software download as it becomes available.

Cell phone features on the Treo line include three-way calling, speaker phone, caller ID, and instant lookup. Because the phone uses the GSM network, SMS (Short Messaging Service) is also enabled on the 270.

The Treo 90 is also fueling speculation that the Visor product line will be discontinued.

Product line manager, Calin Pacurariu, at Handspring, responded to that speculation by saying that Handspring is focused on the Treo.

The 270 will ship in volume later next month, Pacurairu said.