Treo 500 Unboxed
As promised Palm has sent me a brand new Treo 500 to review and I have to admit that I have not had the opportunity to be this excited about a new Treo in quite a while – it’s a very slick, slim and light smartphone that feels absolutely great in your hands and is surprisingly simple to use for a Windows Mobile non-touchscreen device.
Before I go further though I’d like to point out the obvious: the Treo 500 is not meant as a replacement for your existing WM Treo 750 (or earlier) nor your PalmOS Treo 755p/680 but it does offer a very good entry level Treo for those people who have not yet entered the smartphone revolution. Having said this, the Treo 500’s looks and form-factor alone may yet tempt some existing Treonauts to seriously consider making the switch to this new device.
I certainly wouldn’t mind my Treo 680 being this slim and pocketable and as I mentioned previously the Treo 500 is the lightest (only 120 grams) and thinnest (only 16mm) Treo yet (it’s actually 15 grams lighter than an iPhone…). Below you can better appreciate just how much smaller the Treo 500 is compared to my existing Treo 680 (with 6mm less it is nearly 25% slimmer). This is hopefully a trend that future models will also follow which will for example allow us to have even smaller Treo cases.
More importantly still is the fact that I consider this latest Treo to offer the best build yet (also an important indicator for future smartphone releases). It’s a bit difficult to explain but the Treo 500 feels extremely solid in your hands and you get the impression that this is a device whose parts have been “fused” together. There is also absolutely no “plasticky” feel about it and in this respect it may be an entry level Treo but it certainly doesn’t feel cheap at all – this is a smartphone that I would quite happily and proudly set on a table and show off.
The overall elegance of the Treo 500 is also reinforced by the fact that the screen extends smoothly at the same level as the navigation buttons (above), that the new 5Way not only works very well but also looks a lot simpler and cleaner, that you still get a large and wide keyboard and finally that at the back you get a completely clean and smooth surface. There is no doubt that if Palm were to release a PalmOS Treo with the same slimness and build quality I’d be quite happy to upgrade in a heartbeat.
Finally, although I won’t write a full review of the new Windows Mobile user interface that the Treo 500 offers (video above via Jason’s WebLog) I can nonetheless tell you that I have been rather impressed by its speed and overall simplicity (please note that the video is running much slower than the actual device). One of the key UI developments is an intuitive and graphically appealing “carousel” screen which allows you to quickly navigate both horizontally and vertically through the smartphone’s key application categories (from Recent Programs to your Favorite Contacts and Message Centre). It’s true that without a touchscreen or dedicated hard buttons common tasks may take a few more clicks but overall I didn’t find this to be a great barrier to daily usage.
Treonauts always think outside the box…