The Palm Treo 500 is the first of the Treo smartphones that breaks with tradition in terms of the PDA handset design.

The Palm Treo 500, is in essence, an identikit version of the Treo 500v that was launched to some fanfare in September 2007.

The Palm Treo 500 is the first of the Treo smartphones that breaks with tradition in terms of the handset design. Having lost the stubby aerial that were all but a trademark of Treos, Palm fans now get a flatter, more visually pleasing device without sacrificing the all-important large screen.

In fact, having spent the past week using the BlackBerry Pearl 8110 in a couple of different guises, it was refreshing to move on to the Palm Treo 500 and its 51x38mm screen.

Of course, the Palm Treo 500 retains more of the PDA (personal digital assistant) legacy than some users will relish – this is a Windows Mobile 6.0 device – and its relatively large size will immediately deter some.

Against this, however, are the compelling reasons for choosing the Palm Treo 500. First, it has a clean, usable navigation setup. The silver bar below the screen hosts a four-way navipad plus access buttons for the Home screen, the Start menu (familiar to Windows XP and Vista users).

Either side of these are large switches clearly labelled with green and red lights respectively and which are used to either confirm or reject items and progress through menus. These are easily large enough to ensure the Palm Treo 500 can be used one-handed.

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The Palm Treo 500's keypad itself consists of hard, raised buttons with a single key per qwerty character except for the 10 buttons to the left of the centre that double up as number keys.

You have to press fairly firmly to enter each letter or number, but it's always easy to see what's what – not something we could say with any great conviction about the BlackBerry's two-letters per button approach which can take some getting used to.

We found the call clarity on the Palm Treo 500 very good. Even in our busy office where people shout to make themselves heard over the roar of the air-conditioning, we didn't have to strain to pick up what was said in voicemail messages. When making mobile-to-mobile calls, we also found the voice clarity good.

The Palm Treo 500 also betters some others we've tried in its implementation of business applications. Microsoft Office Mobile covers Word, PowePoint and Excel and you can edit and save new documents as well as simply reading ones colleagues send you.

Editing cell text involves right-clicking, choosing Edit and then choosing Edit Text, so we wouldn't want to make extensive use of this feature, but it's handy for occasional use.

NEXT PAGE: managing your life with the Palm Treo 500, and our expert verdict > >

For more mobile phone news, reviews and tutorials, see Mobile Advisor, in association with BlackBerry

The Palm Treo 500 is the first of the Treo smartphones that breaks with tradition in terms of the PDA handset design.

The appointments calendar and intelligent contact synching are likely to be of more everyday use. Here, the large screen makes viewing entries and people's details easy.

Internet Explorer is, inevitably, the browser you're given and you're unrestricted in your surfing – except, of course, by your own data contract and whether you have a 3G or a GSM/GPRS SIM.

Pair the Palm Treo 500 with a Bluetooth GPS dongle and you can use your smartphone as a proper satnvav device. We put its Google Maps software to task and were delighted to find you get helpful additions such as Show Traffic, Track Location, find nearby business and other helpful features.

For more mobile phone news, reviews and tutorials, see Mobile Advisor, in association with BlackBerry

Palm Treo 500: Specs

  • Windows Mobile 6.0 Standard smartphone handset (supports 3G and GPRS with necessary phone contract)
  • 150MB onboard memory
  • microSD expansion card slot
  • 320x240-pixel colour screen
  • 2Mp camera
  • MP3 and WMA playback
  • WMV recording and playback
  • SMS, MMS, ActiveSync sychronisation software
  • instant messaging, Internet Explorer
  • WAP 2.0
  • 62x17x110mm
  • 120g
  • 2.5mm headphone jack
  • mini USB port
  • 10 day standby
  • five hour talktime
  • Windows Mobile 6.0 Standard smartphone handset (supports 3G and GPRS with necessary phone contract)
  • 150MB onboard memory
  • microSD expansion card slot
  • 320x240-pixel colour screen
  • 2Mp camera
  • MP3 and WMA playback
  • WMV recording and playback
  • SMS, MMS, ActiveSync sychronisation software
  • instant messaging, Internet Explorer
  • WAP 2.0
  • 62x17x110mm
  • 120g
  • 2.5mm headphone jack
  • mini USB port
  • 10 day standby
  • five hour talktime

OUR VERDICT

A superb smartphone that feels solid in the hand but is less bulky than previous models, the Palm Treo 500 is a superior handset. It's not quite shaken off the PDA feel that would give it mainstream consumer appeal, but it's a fully featured business tool that fulfils all your communications needs and a little bit more.

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