After Palm announced the death of the Foleo, we were extremely interested to see what it was going to come up with next.
Fortunately, it wasn't another laptop-like device but the Palm Treo 500v, a consumer-centric smart phone that packs 3G for £220 on Vodafone pay as you go and free on some monthly contracts.
If you're a Treo veteran, the 500v will strike you as much smaller than any Treo to date but we still found it chunky compared to certain other smart phones with similar features.
Aesthetically, the 500v is less serious than any of its predecessors and has a more toy-like appearance that attracted some people in the office while putting others right off.
Similar to all Treos the 500v is divided into a large screen in the top half and a Qwerty keypad underneath. The keypad is too squashed together and harder to press than we would have liked.
The navigation and soft keys on top of the keypad are large and very easy to press, however, making navigation simple on the 500v's Windows Mobile interface, even though they look disproportionate to the rest of the phone.
Overall, we're not overwhelmed by the 500v's appearance and feel it lacks a certain sexiness that could possibly be achieved with a slimmer casing, sharper lines and a more balanced layout.
Unlike the 750v, the 500v doesn't feature a touchscreen but Palm has come up with a great new menu interface that solves the non-touchscreen issue, which is activated by clicking on the start key.
The proprietary menu interface is made up of category tabs that you can scroll through by clicking right or left and within each section are quick links to useful applications.
We found the most useful apps to be Windows Live Messenger, Internet Explorer and Office Mobile that comes with Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These apps would have been more enjoyable had the keypad been better.
Of course, what this phone is really for is receiving emails on the go and aside from setting it up on a Microsoft Exchange server, it's very easy to hook it up to a Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo account.
While it's not exactly push email, you can set the 500v to check a Gmail account, for example, at adjustable intervals and receive emails as they come in, which is very handy if you don't have an Exchange server set up.
To connect to the Internet and in turn get email access, the 500v offers 3G, which is acceptable for emails. We would prefer to see the next iteration feature Wi-Fi and HSDPA.
Other features include a lacklustre 2-megapixel camera that doesn't have autofocus or a flash, and an expandable microSD slot that supports up to 2GB and is tucked beneath the battery.Performance
Audio quality during calls and on loudspeaker was good with no noticeable distortions or muffling, an issue that many Treo users have reported in the past.
Picture quality from the 2-megapixel camera was acceptable and good for MMS messages or small prints but we're disappointed that there's no autofocus, LED photo light or flash.
Battery life was acceptable, lasting for over two days with intermittent use and about a day after heavy Web usage.
We're disappointed with the Treo 500v's underwhelming design and feel that the keys are far too squashed together. But it is simple to use, particularly for a Windows Mobile device and while we wouldn't recommend it to the large-thumbed, it is worth peeking at if you fancy some email on the go action.
If you're a seasoned pro though and you want something to take on the road then you might want to have a look at the HTC TyTN II, although beware, it's not for the faint hearted.
Alternatively, if you need a smaller Windows Mobile device but still want the Qwerty keypad then we recommend you check out the HTC S710, which doesn't pack much punch in the features department but it is relatively small and it will let you pick up work emails on the go.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday