Palm Pixi: hands on

Palm's comeback gathers pace with the mischievous little Pixi handset. As quaint as its name suggests, the Pixi slashes weight, power and features fro

Palm's comeback gathers pace with the mischievous little Pixi handset. As quaint as its name suggests, the Pixi slashes weight, power and features from the Pre to give a cheap and cheerful device that is more phone than smart.

The most obvious changes are a solid candybar design and a smaller (2.6-inch) screen. The Qwerty keyboard is a cracking development, with transparent and tactile keys giving what is probably the fastest, most accurate mobile typing experience ever.

The 320x400-pixel screen is perfectly sharp for its size, with the same effortless multi-touch interface seen on the Pre. Under its colourful Pixi hat, though, Palm has skimped on processing muscle, leading to performance hiccups and stuttering apps - especially with two or more 'cards' open. Even Google Maps on its own takes an age to fire up.

There's no Wi-Fi, which means US users are dependent on Sprint's fast but patchy EVDO 3G service. And a further cost-cutting measure has replaced the Pre's 3MP snapper with painful 2MP optics that convert real-life into smeary messes.

The Palm Pixi isn't for power users or speed freaks, but teens might love its urban chic, social networking focus and even its surly sluggishness. The Pixi is selling in the US now for as little as $25 (£15) with a contract.  Watch out for a full review in Stuff mag shortly.