There are several handhelds that can double up as a phone for data and voice calls by accommodating your SIM card, and several that have mini-keyboards built in. But the SPV M5000 from Orange breaks new ground in being 3G-capable, having a clamshell that lets it function like a mini-laptop computer, and offering memory that won't wipe itself if the battery runs down completely.
The SPV M5000 is not alone in opening up these new frontiers. The base hardware and Windows Mobile software that are at its core are also available from O2 as the XDA Exec, T-Mobile as the MDA Pro, and operator free as the i-mate JASJAR and the Qtek 9000.
If you get the device from Orange as the SPV M5000, you'll pay up to £400, depending on your contract.
You'll have to really want this Pocket PC to warrant carrying its 285g of weight and fairly hefty bulk around everywhere, but it's difficult to see how all the features could have been combined to make a lighter or smaller device.
This is the first Pocket PC we've seen with a clamshell design. Anyone who to remembers Psion's dinky and exceptionally functional range of handhelds, such as the Series 5 and the Revo, will immediately get the point of the format. You lift the lid, look at the screen and tap at the keyboard as if you had a mini laptop in your hands.
But the SPV M5000 has another trick to show off. You can swivel the screen through 180 degrees using a sturdy-feeling hinge mechanism and lay it flat so that the keyboard is covered and the screen faces outwards. Now you have a more standard-looking Pocket PC.
The screen automatically changes between landscape and portrait orientation as you swivel it, though you can make the change manually by tapping an icon on the Today screen if you need to.
The keyboard is, of course, pretty small, so don't expect to be able to touch-type on it. Still, we found that by holding the SPV M5000 in both hands and using our thumbs, we achieved quite good typing speed. It seemed easier and faster to use than any other handheld with a mini keyboard we've tried.
There's a proper number row on the keyboard and, above this, six shortcuts to get you quickly to various menu options, with a couple of other shortcut buttons on the bottom row of the keyboard near the space bar. There's even room on the keyboard for cursor arrow keys in the inverted T shape that you will usually find on laptops.
When the keyboard is out of sight there are enough buttons around the edges of the SPV M5000 to allow for making calls (by tapping numbers out on the screen, using the built-in contacts and speed dials or voice dialling), using the built-in 1.3-megapixel camera, changing the system volume and making voice notes. There's a 3.5mm headphone jack and, along what is the front edge when you are working in laptop mode, a pair of stereo speakers.
The screen is the best we've seen on a Pocket PC. At 640x480 pixels its resolution is as high as you'll find on a handheld and while its 65k colours might seem old hat in the mobile phone world, it is at the forefront of what you can expect for a handheld.