The other softkey is the Start button. Hit this and normally you’d expect to see a standard Windows Mobile style list of applications. Not here. Here you get a horizontal scroll bar along the top of the screen offering things like Recent Programs, Message Centre, Favourite Contacts, Upcoming Events, Windows Live!, Music & Video, Live! and a few others.
Move through the options and the central icon grows large and becomes red and grey instead of just grey. Meanwhile below this a column of sub options scrolls into view. Message Centre gives you text message, MMS, email, voicemail and missed calls, for example, while Live! gives you a quick link into things like Google Maps and eBay.
You move through this lot using the navigation button. If you want to get into the usual icon driven Windows Mobile application selector the right softkey will take you to the Main Menu – but only when you are looking at Recent Programs. Alternatively, in the main device screen hit the navigation button’s centre to get here. Palm has played around with the way applications are organised and offers just eight top level icons into which things are nested.
Confused? Well, trust me when I say it works well enough, and the visuals are appealing, but if you intend to come to the Treo 500v from another Windows Mobile device you should expect a short learning curve while you get your bearings.
I tested battery life in my usual way – asking the Treo 500v to play music through its loudspeaker non stop with its screen forced on. I got tunes for five and a half hours, which is hardly earth shattering.
On the software side, Palm has done well in turning Windows Mobile into something rather more fun and cool to use than normal. On the hardware side there are features missing – there’s no HSDPA, no front facing camera, no Wi-Fi and an average camera. But the thinner, sleeker look is a big step forward for Palm in terms of hardware design.
Score in detail