There's a trend appearing in the mobile world of the super-smartphone and the junior sidekick. While the world had Apple fever over the updates to the iPod range and whether or not the Fab Four would appear - well, at least one or two of them - Palm announced a lite version of the Pre dubbed the Palm Pixi.

We've all read the words of the nips and tucks here and there but there's nothing like a good old side by side comparison to really hit home the differences, so here it is:

Palm vs pixie

What's obvious straight away is that Palm hasn't taken too much. It's largely about power and performance rather than functionality. A lower spec chipset and complement of RAM will mean that running simultaneous apps won't be quite as smooth on the Pixi but it'll still be possible. Similarly there's still a camera with AF and LED flash but a significant drop on ultimate image size down to two megapixels. That said, so long as it's the same same glassware and chips, is that really a problem?

The screen is probably the most major loss of all, shrinking down in size as well as colour vibrancy but it still functions in the same way. It's just a question of whether you can look at the detail clearly enough. The issue behind the issue though, is will this cause a problem for app developers who now have to program for two different screen sizes? Perhaps not the biggest help for the future of the Palm Beta App Catalogue.

The lack of Wi-Fi in the Pixi might not be quite the problem it appears to be, so long as you have an unlimited data package to go with the 3G access and otherwise, the phones are largely the same.

There are two area though where the smaller handset has an edge. With the Pixi being a candy bar phone, it means that the QWERTY keys are higher raised than those on the Pre that must slide under the casing. Reports are that although the Pixi's keys are smaller, higher nobbling makes its QWERTY easier to use. Food for thought for the chunky thumbed.

The other bonus, which isn't likely to last, is that the Pixi comes with integration of Facebook and Twitter messages into conversation threads that the Pre doesn't currently support. There's been no official word but it seems highly likely that the next software update will bring that to the Pre too.

The bottom line on the Pixi is that, like it's name, it's to appeal a more fashion conscious, money light sector who'd rather have the social networking functionality, something smaller in their jeans and less of a heavy pocket computer. The final proof of the fact is the limited edition release of the phone which will see artists illustrate the rubberised scratch-proof back covers.

The Pre's not exactly a fortune at $150 in the States - we're still foot tapping over in the UK - but expect the Pixi to be considerably less. That may not make much of a difference in America but on this isle the little cousin could be a serious tempter against a high priced Pre on O2. Is this another reason why we've been waiting?

As far as Palm goes though, on paper, you've got to hand it to them that they seem to have done a very neat job of walking the trade off tight rope with the Pixi.

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