The Palm Treo 500v is a real departure for Palm. It’s not the first handset it has launched that runs on Windows Mobile rather than the PalmOS, but the handset itself has been radically redesigned. The Palm Treo 500v looks nothing like the Treos of old, which were chunky and solid and traditionally came with a stubby aerial protruding from the top right.

In fact, the Palm Treo 500v looks more like a BlackBerry Curve than anything, particularly in the smart grey livery of our review unit (it also comes in ice white). In some ways, it’s a shame that Palm has forsaken its distinctive Treo design, but it’s also fairly understandable.

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As with BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, Palm is keen to broaden the appeal of its traditionally business-focused smartphone handsets, so has gone for a lighter, slimmer design with a 2Mp camera round the back for the Palm Treo 500v. As well as a 2.5x zoom, the Palm Treo 500v has a sensor almost twice the size of last year’s Treo 750v. you can also expand the memory via its microSD card slots.

The Palm Treo 500v's screen is no longer square but a more standard 320x240 pixel 65K colour display and, while the raised, hard keys are retained from older Treo designs, they are now aligned in straight rows, rather than on a slight curve. This allows Palm to trim off a few millimetres and reduce the overall length of the Palm Treo 500v. At 120g, the Palm Treo 500v is still a relatively heavy handset, however.

The 680 is heavier still, at 157g, but has an advantage over the Palm Treo 500v in being a touchscreen model. The Palm Treo 500v does without a touchscreen but does its best to make navigation as straightforward as possible with an excellent software overlay that makes the Palm Treo 500v behave anything but like a regular Windows Mobile device and succeeds in making this seem a step away from more traditional business handsets.

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