We got a chance to test out the brand new Palm Treo 500v this evening - and here are our first impressions of it.

Treo 500v vs. iPhone

The Apple iPhone - with its sleek housing and tactile touchscreen - it isn't. But with the Treo 500v Palm has created an impressively fast and very easy to use device. Most notably, it has a large, bright colour LCD screen, which displays even the most complex web pages i n a scaled down format.

Aimed at consumers and small business users, the Palm Treo 500v is available exclusively through Vodafone until the new year, and is ready to use out of the box.

Powered by Microsoft's familiar Windows Mobile 6 platform, the Treo 500v fits comfortably in your hand and is incredibly intuitive. The QWERTY keyboard is small, but surprisingly usable. It makes typing text messages, IM chatter, emails and URLs easy.

Palm is a serious alternative

"We've worked hard to make the Palm Treo 500v as user-friendly as possible, especially since we see it primarily as a consumer device. It has to be easy to set up and use, otherwise people won't use it," a Palm spokesperson told us at the London press demo this evening.

Its integrated 3G connectivity made web surfing a doddle - our Tech.co.uk homepage loaded up in less than five seconds. Certain popular websites - such as the BBC, Google and the eBay auction website - are set as favourites, and of course you can add your own as you go along. There's also the Vodafone Live! service where you can watch streamed TV, download music, and access games and video clips.

The Palm Treo 500v goes on sale next month and is available free on some Vodafone contracts. We were given a unit for review and will give you a more in-depth appraisal next week.