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Palm Treo 500v smartphone

Palm's best smartphone yet?

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Review D'you know the most interesting thing about Palm's Treo 500v? It's a Windows Mobile smartphone without a stylus. For years, we've been noting PDA and, later, smartphone makers' attempts to overcome the Microsoft OS inability to work one-handed, but until now no one's quite succeeded.

Past Palm and recent HTC devices have come close, but the 500v is the first to hit the market without its manufacturer feeling the need to include a stylus even just in case. Not that it would be much use: the 500v doesn't have a touchscreen either.

It's a Palm device that might have been made by Nokia. Indeed, the 500v's look has a decidedly Finnish tone to it, which is interesting given the rumours earlier this year than Nokia might be about to acquire the PDA pioneer. Makes you think, doesn't it?

Palm Treo 500v
Palm's Treo 500v: Nokia inspired?

That the 500v can operate stylus-free is because it runs the version of Windows Mobile 6 designed for regular handsets rather than the form of the OS designed for the PDA-style devices Palm is famous for.

Stylus lovers will disregard the 500v, but in many respects it's Palm's best Windows Mobile device yet. The older 750v may have a higher number, but that's because of extra features rather than inherent superiority.

Here's why. Face on, the 500v is slightly shorter but also slightly wider than the 750v. But while the older machine is all angles, the newer phone has deep curves that make it look smaller than it is. More to the point, it's barely two-thirds the thickness of the 750v, which also makes it feel smaller.

Palm Treo 500v
New-style Qwerty grid

We can remember trying the 750v for the first time and remarking on how much smaller it felt than the old Treo 650 did. On paper, the dimensions weren't much different, but the way Palm's designers pulled in the corners and angles really gave the 750v in your hand the sensation of being much more petite than its predecessor. Well, they've done it again, and the 500v feels it's been shrunk by the same margin again. It's lighter too.

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