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We've felt for a while that Palm has been treading water, and that the company needed to do something big to maintain its position. Is the new Windows Mobile 6 Treo 500v enough?
This new Treo is a Vodafone exclusive, at least for the first three months of its life. It'll be available in October and depending on your contract you may be able to pick it up for free.
The Treo 500v comes in two colour schemes - ‘Glacier White' and ‘Charcoal Grey'. I got the grey one, and while the colour scheme is nothing to write home about Palm has certainly tried hard where look and feel are concerned and has come up with a design that is appealing.
This Treo looks nothing like its predecessors. Its rounded corners and thin frame mean it is worlds apart from the last Treo, the 750v, which was also a Vodafone exclusive and the first Palm to run Windows Mobile.
For those interested in dimensions the Treo 500v's vitals are that it is 110mm tall, 61.5mm wide, 16.5mm thick and 120g. The Treo 750v was 113mm x 59mm x 21mm and 154g.
The change in design is probably down to the fact that Palm is shooting for a broader market than just the business users it has focussed on with previous Treos. The marketing blurb emphasises the 500v's ability to access web sites like MySpace, YouTube and eBay, for example. Um, because no other handheld device can do that, right?
Palm has opted for a large bank of buttons between screen and keyboard. That they are huge makes the Call, End, Home, Back and two softkeys easy to hit without even thinking about looking for them, and the navigation key is similarly sizeable and unproblematic to use. But this does mean the QWERTY keyboard is a bit squeezed.
Its keys are separated from each other and significantly raised from their surroundings, which helps you find them quickly, and I was OK tapping out text messages and emails on them. But if you are coming to this format for the first time you might want to try the keyboard out in-store, especially if you have large hands and/or stubby fingers.