The hardware is the first real refresh we've seen from Palm in about four years. While the Treo 600 and 700 series smartphones have received incremental updates, none of them has made the aging design any more appealing (read: they are too fat!). This new form factor, dubbed "Gandolf" or the "Centro", has been spotted here and there on the web for several months now. It ain't super pretty, but it is a lot thinner than previous Treos. In fact, Engadget recently derided its appearance in the open letter it wrote to Palm. Since this version is WinMo-based, it sidesteps the Palm OS user experience issue...for now. Palm will have to eventually get its next-generation OS out the door and on some hardware to really start winning back its good name.
Lack of sex appeal aside, the 500v offers some niceties as well. It includes a 2-megapixel camera, stereo Bluetooth, and supports European 3G networks. Unfortunately for U.S. residents, it does not initially support networks here. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Palm will get wise and make a version compatible with U.S. networks in the future.