Following the success of RIM's BlackBerry handheld, we've seen a host of rivals crop up in the past couple of years. The UBiQiO 501 (£285 inc. VAT) is a competent and well-priced device, and is available without a contract.
Styling is similar to Samsung's SGH-i320 smartphone with a thin and wide casing, and a series of large menu keys below the display. The 501 runs Windows Mobile 5.0 PPC, so you'll find a built-in touchscreen and several office applications included. The 2.5-inch screen is fitted in a landscape orientation, which is ideal for viewing documents and webpages.
We found it bright and clear, although it lacks responsiveness - often needing several firm taps to react. You can use the touchscreen to navigate the OS, or there's a four-way directional pad. It's accurate, but also requires a firm hand to get a response.
A QWERTY keypad sits below the display, and we found it better than those on most handhelds. Because the keys are individually mounted, and feature a reasonable amount of spacing, it's easy to type without mistakes. The numbers are highlighted in blue for telephone calls. We found this slightly tricky as it's not possible to type a phone number without looking at the keypad.
Call quality was impressive, the speaker proving crisp and suitably loud. An integrated 802.11b/g adapter enables connections to wireless networks, and the ability to run VoIP software Skype means you'll be able to use the internet to talk to your friends or colleagues, wherever they are in the world.
Support for Push-Email allows you to send and receive your emails directly without delay, making this a useful tool for the corporate user. We found setting up email accounts more time-consuming and nowhere near as simple as on a BlackBerry.
The features list is impressive, with a Bluetooth adapter that allows files to be transferred wirelessly, and a 2-megapixel camera included. A button on the side of the device takes the 501 straight into camera mode. The quality of photographs turned out to be good. There's 64MB of memory on which you can store your files. If this proves too little, there's a mini-SD card slot for extra storage.
It's not all good news, though. We found the 200MHz processor sluggish, and applications were often slow to respond. The 501 also crashed occasionally when sending text messages. This aside, the UBiQiO remains a reasonably priced option. It's not perfect, but if you can live with its foibles, there's a lot on offer for your money.