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The Palm Treo 500 has a form factor and Operating System similar to other smartphones we have reviewed over the past few months, so what’s so special about it?

Sure, it has a built-in camera, a QWERTY keypad, runs on Windows Mobile 6, and has several pre-installed software that may help increase office productivity while on the go, but it missed out on a touchscreen panel. It relies heavily on directional keys and keypad for menu navigation, making it difficult for (Palm) users who are used to using the stylus.


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The Treo 500 reminded us of the Asus M530w we reviewed a month ago because of its similar layout up front. It sports a 320 x 240 Transflective colour screen, comes with five-way navigation keys, left and right softkeys, send and end buttons, home button, back button, and a full QWERTY keypad. The keys on the device are miniscule, making it hard for us to press the keys unless we use our fingernails.

Users can find a power button on top of the unit, a volume key and side button on the left side, a headset jack and mini-USB port at the bottom of the unit, as well as a 2-megapixel camera and a speaker (for voice conference) at the unit’s rear. A microSD card slot is also available but is inconveniently placed under the battery, which removes the possibility of hot-swapping between memory cards.

 


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Performance:

The Palm Treo 500 uses an Intel PXA720 processor and runs on Windows Mobile 6 Standard. The main menu displays the latest accessed programs, a Wireless Manager icon that turns the Bluetooth on/off or put the phone in flight mode, upcoming appointments, phone profile, and received text messages. Pressing the right softkey automatically brings a user to their contact list, while pressing the left softkey displays the sub-menus.

Programs like Internet Explorer, Windows Live Messenger, Office Mobile, Picture and Video Explorer, and Mobile Windows Media Player were available and did not come as a surprise because of its OS. It also has a calendar and task function that reminds a user of upcoming meetings, parties, and important dates. Personal and work e-mails can also be checked as the Treo 500 can connect to web-based e-mail like Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail, and supports Microsoft Exchange Server to access Outlook e-mails. And just so that you don’t lose any saved data, the Treo also comes with a Sync function that saves information to the PC.

A program that will be very useful for those who are constantly on the road is the Google Maps software. This software will allow users to get from one location to another and even find nearby places of interest, although users will be charged by their telcos for data usage.

 


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Slapping a 2-megapixel camera may seem to be a great idea since most phones in the market have it, but we think that Palm should have just missed out on this feature. We were very disappointed with the camera as a whole. The unit did not have any dedicated camera buttons, with users having to go to the Pictures and Videos sub-menu in order to start taking photos. It also did not have any auto-focusing mechanism and built-in flash, making night shots next to impossible.

The Treo 500 is a 3G handset that can stream videos and audio files with minimal buffering, has Bluetooth connectivity, and claims to have up to 4.5 hours of talk time or 10 days standby time.

Conclusion:

There is nothing special about the Palm Treo 500. Most of its main features can be found in other Windows-based smartphones, its keypad is too small for our taste, and it does not have any other programs or connectivity features that could have set it apart from the rest. The price will probably be appealing to potential buyers though, with this Windows Mobile 6 smartphone having a price tag of $649.

Product Specifications:

Platform: Windows Mobile 6 Standard
Display: 320 x 240 pixel Transflective colour screen; supports 16-bit colour (up to 65K colours)
Radio: GSM/GPRS/UMTS radio
GSM bands: 900/1800/1900
UMTS bands: 2100

Bluetooth Wireless Technology: Version: 2.0 + EDR
Profiles: Headset, Handsfree, EDR, serial and OBEX.

Memory: 256MB memory (150MB available user storage)
Camera: 2-megapixels with 2x digital zoom and video capture support

Expansion: microSD card
Connector: mini USB
Battery: Removable 1200mAh, lithium-ion
Talk time: 10 days standby, up to 4.5 hours of talk time

Dimensions: 110 x 61.5 x 16.5 mm
Weight: 0.12 kg

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Palm Treo 500 | $649 |  | www.palm.com/au

For: Construction; full QWERTY keypad; Office-oriented applications
Against: Small keys; microSD card slot not hot-swappable; built-in camera does not have auto-focus or flash; no secondary camera
Conclusion: Appealing price, not so appealing features.

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