Review: Palm Treo 500v

Review: Palm Treo 500v
Review: Palm Treo 500v

Today's world is fast-paced, business minded. Hurried and less casual, people want email on the go. They want it here and now and I probably don't have to tell you this because you're reading this expecting a quick answer on whether this phone is any good or not.

So in a world of fast paced email-centric necessity, there's a constant desire to be "connected". As it stands, the Blackberry is probably the most used device to keep people like you or me "connected" in any sense of the word. It provides everything you need in an easy to use package: email, web access, phone calls, and text messaging. The vitals for staying "connected" in a switched-on world.

But what if there was another device you could do all that with? What if you weren't happy with your Blackberry; would this device fill that void and step up to the challenge?

The Palm Treo 500v is a device that could be seen as something untypical of Palm. Palm used to be at the forefront of mobile computers. I can remember having the Pilot and even the PalmPilot and being the envy of my friends when they saw how I was writing into my device.

But the Treo 500v is unlike those early models.

It doesn't have a touchscreen. It comes with a keyboard. The display is colour. And stranger than all of that... it runs Windows.

Yes, the mighty Palm empire have moved to a Windows Mobile 6 platform for this device. Instead of the segmented grids of Palm OS, you get a sleek sliding menu system that wouldn't feel out of place in the hands of a discerning teenager.

The sleek style is actually a lot like the device itself which is smooth, capsule-like in shape, and fits very well in the hands as you carry it from place to place. The weight is just right and while the Treo 500v is obviously a very plastic phone, it actually feels solid enough to withstand a few hits.

Now, for a device to compete with the Blackberry, it's got to have a few basic functions.

E-Mail and instant messaging, for instance, which the Palm Treo 500v actually does quite well. You can see in using the portable versions of both Outlook and Windows Live Messenger that the Treo 500v has been catered with services like this in mind. Logging onto the Microsoft services is actually easy, fast, and once you're in the thick of it, you find that the Treo does an excellent job of keeping you connected until you get home or back to the office.

I actually found myself using MSN more than I think I ever had when I was using it on the Treo. It's probably safe to say that it's as easy to get online and talking to people with the Treo 500v as it is a desktop computer.

The Palm Treo 500v also surfs the web using a cut down version of Internet Explorer. It's not WAP and it's not some of the higher-end browsers that can be seen on Series 60 or other Windows Mobile platforms, but it does give you an efficient no-frills web without wasting time. You're also provided version of Mobile Word, Excel, and Powerpoint so you can check your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the run as well as a PDF viewer for reading Adobe's famed file format.

And seeing as making phone calls if often a vital feature on a phone (although seems to be a feature not thought about these days during development), the Treo 500v makes phones calls too. As you type the number, you'll also see the QWERTY characters identify themselves on screen but you can ignore those since you're just focusing on the number. I should say that while the call quality isn't exactly remarkable, it's not bad either. Sound-wise, it doesn't do much to distinguish itself from the pack of mediocrity, but in the same respect it does a better job of sound quality than a lot of other phones on the market.

The battery is excellent. Sure, if you make a few hours worth of phone calls, chances are that you're going to need a recharge every day. But if all you're doing is online activity, the Treo 500v will stay the distance for days at a time. Palm suggest 4.5 hours of talk time and 10 days of standby time and that seems to come quite close to what I saw in my couple of weeks with the Treo.

There's obviously a lot going for the Treo 500v. It has style, feels great, and does the job. But then there are the things about the Treo 500v which will just leave you shaking your head.

There is, for instance, not a single text writing application on the device. Oh sure, you can send an SMS to people, write an e-mail, and talk on MSN to your friends, but you can't actually write yourself a note. I should be truthful. You can write memos, but it actually means editing a template with the mobile version of Word, and you find this out by opening the template and reading the following:

You can edit this file and then choose
Menu/File/Save As to save with a new name"

With a template like that left for you to "write" your memo, the developers were obviously aware that they had left something out. It's just a shame that such a short-coming exists and hasn't been fixed by way of software upgrade.

The keyboard too isn't the best keyboard you're likely to have ever used. The keys feel like they haven't enough space between each other and their size seems to hamper any ability to use the device without accidentally typing the wrong thing in.

Expect the operating system to slow down at points for no apparent reason. Whether you're trying to make your way through menu item to menu item, there's a degree of speed that is obviously missing from the Treo 500v, as well as the Wi-Fi and HSDPA that probably should have been there too.

That said, it isn't a bad phone. Not by a long shot. It has its quirks and some of those quirks could probably be fixed with something as simple as a downloadable firmware upgrade. But if you're someone who's really stuck in the Windows Live hemisphere and blogosphere as well as someone who's just sick and tired of their Blackberry, it's definitely worth checking out.

Product: Palm Treo 500v

Vendor: Palm, Vodafone

RRP: $749

Website: Palm Treo 500v

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark

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