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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.

Treo 500 Unboxed

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. 

Treo 500 In Hand

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.

Treo 500 Profile

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.

Treo 500 Screen - Keyboard

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

Posted by Andrew on September 17, 2007 at 08:48 AM

Treo 500

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» Treo 500v first impressions: Best Treo yet! from IntoMobile
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Tracked on Sep 17, 2007 12:24:13 PM

» Treo 500v first impressions: "Best Treo yet!" from Pocket.Net - Mobile 2.0
Says the guys over at Treonauts. They did a quick write up of their unboxing and are ridiculously impressed [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 17, 2007 12:37:26 PM

» Treonauts unboxing of the Treo 500v from Jason Langridge's WebLog - MR Mobile!
Over at Treonauts Andrew has pulled together a great review and unboxing of the Treo 500v device! He [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 18, 2007 11:50:39 AM

» Treo 500 Early Impressions (Verict: Solid) from Gizmodo
Treonauts has some early hands-on impressions and unboxing of the much deliberated Treo 500. Aside from the lack of touchscreen, the review was overwhelmingly positive. Surprisingly, one of the best features is its solid construction.... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 20, 2007 4:52:19 PM


by Andrew N. | Sep 17, 2007 10:33:48 AM

All that time and this is the best they could come up with? Weak show, Palm.

by Josh | Sep 17, 2007 10:57:47 AM

Why do you not consider this Treo as a replacement to 600/700 models? Are the functions and software different?

by Andrew | Sep 17, 2007 12:11:20 PM

Josh - the Treo 500 is not a "replacement" to existing Treo smartphones insofar as it does not offer any superior functionality (even though its form factor is considerably slimmer and lighter).

I would personally not have a problem using the Treo 500 as a replacement (if it ran PalmOS) but power users may find the lack of a touchscreen limiting.

Cheers, A.

by a non | Sep 17, 2007 12:28:20 PM

I have a 700P and consider myself a Palm loyalist so I would consider upgrading but only if I can be assured they have the bugs worked out of the OS.

I have had my 700p replaced 4 times (a fifth after I downloaded the error-ridden patch in August). Even on my latest phone it still shuts itself off randomly and I have major problems with my Bluetooth connections. Am I alone with these problems?

I forgive these bugs because I know its better than what else is out there - but am I wrong for expecting more from a Treo?

by Tommy | Sep 17, 2007 1:10:52 PM

Looks like a cool phone. The spy pictures made it horrible. The actual device looks fine.

I had a windows mobile device (sans touchscreen) before my treo 680 (MPX220). It was totally fine. Not as easy to use as my palm 680, but definitely better than the pocket PC version (full Windows Mobile) because the interface was designed more for small mobile devices. Pocket pc or WM acts more like a mini laptop.

My Treo 680 is still the best yet. But, I just read last night that the Palm Linux O/S will be pushed into 2009. Since my phone plan renews before then, I will probably be evaluating other platforms before they field another Palm device.

I can't believe how long Palm has been working on their new linux O/S. I'm no expert on software development, but I'm guessing there are some core management "issues" there at Palm.

by karibOS | Sep 17, 2007 1:24:01 PM

What about-- screen resolution? typing on the smaller keyboard? and can we get more comparison pictures with the 680?

by Jmore | Sep 17, 2007 1:43:11 PM

Looks nice. I say Palm did their job in appealing to the entry-level crowd.

But I have this nagging feeling that this is where Palm's future is for the next little while since it may not be capable of competing with the likes of Apple, RIM, etc. (no new OS until 2009??)...where pro-users will get WM-based Treos.

The Treo 800 will be a really telling sign if Palm really cares about its hardcore base.

by NowVoyager | Sep 17, 2007 2:15:37 PM

>a non; I too have a 700P, am a power user and have had my phone replaced NUMEROUS times. That being said, I was still willing to give PALM another shot. Call me crazy. But after all that angst, I am completely unwilling to settle for less than the very best. This 500 is far from it.

Palm needs to leak some pictures of a Christmas upgraded Smartphone for my class of users. My contract is up at month's end and if there is no word of a REAL Palm Smartphone, I'm outta here.

As for this comment in the above article: "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" - What then is the friggin' point, Palm? Inquiring minds wanna know!

by Power User | Sep 17, 2007 4:10:07 PM

Where the heck is the mini or micro SD slot located or is there none?

by Andrew | Sep 17, 2007 4:35:34 PM

karibOS - screen size is 320x240 pixels and resolution is absolutely great (ultrathin fonts and anti-aliasing do an excellent job for reading information on the screen).

Power User - the microSD slot is located under the battery. Not a great placement if you need to remove it frequently but the USB 2.0 connectivity makes up for this since you can easily transfer files directly to your device.

Jmore - Like many I am also very much waiting to get news on a next generation high-end Treo. In this respect, I wouldn't believe the recent rumours about no new OS coming out from Palm until 2009... We will definitely see it in 2008.

Cheers, A.

by patrick | Sep 17, 2007 4:44:26 PM

I have had my treo 700P since october. The so called PDA or Phone of mine has been replaced 11 times. Thats right I said eleven times. I have never had a worse experience in my life with this unit. 7 of them reset for no reason at all. Just for the heck of it. I would get a call coming in while on the phone and lose both calls. It wouldnt even go into my phone log who called. I am losing business because of this phone and I will tell everyone that I know in a sprint store, or verizon store or anyone that goes near a palm to NOT go near this item.
Verizon has been kind enough to replace it 11 times but it is not their problem that the product is a piece of junk. For a price of $600 which they claim is the real price. I paid $399. I would think they would come up with something that actually does what it is suppose to do.

by Duane | Sep 17, 2007 8:15:42 PM

Hey Andrew,

Any chance we can get a survey of the users on this site as to what model of Treo they are using? I'm really curious about the breakdown by model.

I know this is somewhat off topic, but I didn't know where else to ask.

by A Non | Sep 18, 2007 4:48:45 PM

Thanks to NowVoyager and Patrick for responding about the problems with the 700P. Confirms what I thought, this unit is unreliable and I will be leaving Palm very soon.

by Eric | Sep 18, 2007 11:23:43 PM

Still too fat. Dammit, Palm. Booo. What an unnecessary and unispired product this is. Seems like such a "hey everybody we're not dead! Srsly!" holding-pattern kind of release. Like, let's just throw something out there until we can get our act together and catch up, just so people know we're still a going concern and intend to return to this market at some point in the future. Time buyer. Time waster. :(

2009, don't tarry overlong.

by Michael | Sep 19, 2007 6:51:05 AM

ouch, that's really poor. Hey you guys at Palm, have a look at the HTC Touch, and I promise you'll find out very quick what's going wrong with your product line: Still no Wifi, no adequate form factor, no breaking OS-Updates or other features required by customers. I'm really wondering. I bought my first PDA in 1997 (yes, that's ten years ago !) and it was a Pilot 5000. Since this time I owned lots of several Palm models and every device has been more feature-rich and user-friendly than the previous and worth its money. When looking at actual devices, it is hard to believe, we're talking about the same company. Really poor, guys, you're about to loose one more customer.

by g | Sep 20, 2007 12:26:36 AM

I'm a 755p user, and I don't see many users here with that model. Used to have a 650, and just about everybody here had one back then...

Anyway, I skipped the 700p, so I'm really amused to read how terrible that model is.

Also, I don't think that slimmer is necessarily better. Like, 755p is a little too thick, but the iPhone is too slim. I'm serious. It's too slim to be handling comfortably, easily falls out of your hands, etc. There is a balance to the slimness factor.

by Joseph | Sep 20, 2007 4:19:13 PM

What some of you don't understand, is that this smartphone is an entry-level to mainstream smartphone, not a high-end PDA. For it's category, the specs and the form factor's great. Let's just wait and see what will be offered with the Treo 800..

by Colonel Kernel | Sep 25, 2007 8:46:43 PM

As for what device I'm using, I recently upgraded to a 680 from a 650 entirely for the increased inyernal and external memory. The tipping point was finding an unlocked Copper at my local Palm store which seem to have been discontinued.

People on the Net are so funny. Were TX owners as perplexed by the existance of the Z22 as current Treo owners are of the 500v?

Palm is trying to expand their reach beyond the US. They told us as much in their roadmap graphic from their Investor Day back in April or when ever it was. If you're surprised by the 500v then you haven't been paying attention.

I am terribly excited by the fact that Palm considers the 500v and the Centro, assuming it largely the same device running Palm OS, entry level smartphones. What, then, are they planning for us gadget freaks? It's been a long time since we've heard anything really good so we've got a right to be antsy, but VERY good things could be coming soon.

by Winston | Sep 29, 2007 5:51:15 AM

I must admit that I'm one of those Palm loyals that has now lost the love... The upcoming Treo 500 and Centro are nothing to celebrate. I am still using my Treo 650 as I haven't really seen any real reason to upgrade from this fantastic device; the 500 and Centro are laughable in this regard.

Current devices by HTC (Advantage, Shift) and Apple (iPhone) are clear contenders to take away from the market share once held by Palm (if not already). Where is the development and innovation that will keep Palm (Treo)among the most desireable devices? My 650 is time-worn and showing years of consistent use.

At the end of the year (or maybe early next year) I will be getting myself a new device/smartphone/umpc... based on what I've seen, the Palm Treo will not be among the contenders. Sad...

by Bob Harris | Aug 17, 2008 6:40:44 PM

For my last phone upgrade I had to decide between the Treo 500 and the Treo 750. I chose the 500 as it was noticibly slimmer and lighter than the 750 and had a bit nicer screen. As I was mainly using it for email and calendar I wasn't too worried about the lack of a touchscreen, especially as the 500's menu system seemed to work quite well.

Since getting the Treo 500 I've managed to crack the screen twice. I should point out that the phone was treated with the utmost care at all times. I was always carried in its case and was never dropped. Both time there was only a very minor crack 2 - 3mm long on the very edge of the screen but internally the screen was stuffed.
The screen on this phone is no recessed at all so is very prone to damage. I found that it received a lot of scratches from small particles of grit embedded in the soft linig of the case. Because the screen is not recessed there is no option to use a screen protector.

I've also found the software on this model to be flaky. We have several 500's and 750's as well as several other makes/models and the 500 definately has the most problems with our corporate data connection.

I've since changed to a Treo 750 (with air case)and never looked back. Apart from the extra bulk it is a much nicer phone with better features (love the voice command)
In conclusion I did like the 500 but it's just not reliable enough and the very nice screen is too exposed to scratching.

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