Getting on well with the keyboard matters hugely with the Treo 500v because the device runs Windows Mobile 6 Standard. This is the version of the OS designed for what Microsoft used to want us to call Windows Mobile for Smartphones. The screen isn’t touch sensitive so there’s no tappable on-screen keyboard or handwriting recognition here. But there is Word, Excel PowerPoint and PDF document viewing and basic editing of the first two, for which, clearly, you will need to be OK with the keyboard.
Palm says there is 150MB of user storage available. After a hard reset my review sample reported 151MB. The microSD card slot you can use to expand on this is under the battery, so if you are thinking of using it to get music, ebooks or whatever onto the device without going through ActiveSync you are going to be powering the Treo 500v up and down a lot.
The Treo 500v is a tri-band GSM phone with 3G but no HSDPA. What? I hear you ask? What is the point of not including HSDPA on every 3G device? We aren’t sure, but as Vodafone has announced its 7.2Mbps HSDPA the operator might be a bit miffed. On a similar note, there is no front facing camera for making video calls.
While there is Bluetooth here, Wi-Fi is absent. A camera lens sits on the back of the casing, but with no self portrait mirror or flash and just 2-megapixel capability it isn’t going to replace your stand alone digicam.
One of the things I liked about the Treo 750v was the way Palm played around with the Windows Mobile user interface to give you a different – and in may ways better – set of ways of using the device. They’ve done it again here, though my reaction is not quite as positive this time round.
First off, when you power up the Treo 500v what you see on the 320 x 240 pixel landscape screen is not the boring old Windows Mobile Today screen. Instead you get a colourful wave graphic atop a mostly white screen that is emblazoned with a red strip showing the Vodafone branding, current time and date. It isn’t earth shattering, but it is different.
One of the sofkey buttons is linked to the Vodafone Live! service. Hit it and you are ready to take advantage of all those online goodies.