By April 26, 2008

Palm Centro review

Can the latest offering from Palm stand up to Windows Mobile?

10 second review:
Device: Palm Centro
Cost: SIM free only: £153 (£179.78 inc VAT)
Available from: Clove Technology
Summary: Small sleek and lightweight the Centro is ideal for communicating with its colour touchscreen display and convenient full QWERTY keyboard.
Best of: form factor
Worst of: poor email support for MS Exchange

Palm Centro

Palm Centro

What’s in the box?

Nothing out of the ordinary in the box with the Centro and you can see more in Matt’s Palm Centro unboxing video but the basics are:

  • Palm Centro device
  • Mains charger
  • Battery
  • USB Sync/charge cable
  • User guide
  • Screen protector
  • Wired mono headset
  • Application CD rom
  • Palm Centro specification

  • Display: 320×320 pixel Transflective colour touchscreen
  • Radio: GSM/GPRS/EDGE class 10 radio, quad band world phone (850/900/1800/1900MHz)
  • Platform: Palm OS by ACCESS 5.4.9
  • Bluetooth: Version: 1.2
  • Memory: 64MB available user storage
  • Camera: 1.3 megapixels with 2x digital zoom and video capture
  • Battery: Removable 1150mAh, li-ion Up to 4 hours talk, or up to 300 hours standby
  • Expansion: microSD card (up to 4GB supported)
  • Connector: Multi-connector
  • Dimensions: 107.2 mm (L) x 53.5 mm (W) x 18.6 mm (D)124 grams
  • General

    The Palm Centro has a fairly unusual 320×320 pixel square display which takes up a good portion of the device. Below the screen are a number of fairly typical soft keys, phone keys, d-pad style navigation and a full QWERTY keyboard.

    Palm Centro Keyboard

    Palm Centro Keyboard

    On the bottom of the device you’ll find socket for the wired MONO headset, a proprietary connector for the USB connections and to the right of that a small connector for the mains charger which is again a custom connector.

    Palm Centro bottom

    Palm Centro bottom

    The left side of the Centro has a volume control rocker and a simple soft key for camera control.

    Palm Centro left

    Palm Centro left

    The right side has very little to show, here you’ll just find an IRDA port and the cover over the MicroSD card slot (more on this later).

    Palm Centro right

    Palm Centro right side

    In a departure from the standard, the top of the device is not home to the power button but instead there is a switch for setting the device to mute/vibrate mode.

    Palm Centro top

    Palm Centro top

    The back of the Centro is also pretty clean, just the 1.3MP camera and a loudspeaker.

    Palm Centro back

    Palm Centro back

    The other thing that’s quite striking about the Centro is the case material. Rather than just being a black plastic it has small metalic flecks in it which is quite attractive.

    Palm Centro case design

    Palm Centro case material

    REVIEW

    Palm are keen to offer this as a smart phone, with there own Palm OS installed. But in testing I found that it lacked features that are commonly available on competing Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and the Nokia N series devices – as it does not offer WiFi or GPS.

    The Palm Centro is thin at (107x53x18mm), is light at 119g, and its smooth plastic case feels comfortable in the hand.

    I felt that the Palm Centro is definitely made from cheaper materials than the Treo. I found that the removable battery cover was a bit fragile and somewhat difficult to remove and replace. Also the skinny black plastic stylus feels as though it might snap in two.

    I was confused by the small plastic door on the Palm Centro’s side that was abelled ‘Micro SD’. You can pull out the door, but the only way to insert the card is after you’ve first opened the battery cover. Surely it would have made more sense if Palm had designed the door not to open at all unless the user removes the battery cover.

    Palm Centro MicroSD slot

    Palm Centro MicroSD slot

    Because the Palm Centro is so small, the keyboard keys are small but functional; I did fear at first that typing would be an unpleasant experience. But Palm has done a good job here. The keys are coated in a squishy plastic that keeps your fingertips from slipping; this did not slow me down much when typing emails or texts.

    The 2.4in 320×320 colour touch screen looks good, although it’s smallish. The navigation controls – an oval pad; buttons for the phone interface, the main Palm OS menu, the calendar, and email; a red on/off button; and a green Send button – were responsive and easy to use.

    I tested the Palms performance as a mobile phone, I made phone calls which where clear and crisp. The people at the other end sounded as good as on a landline, and they commented that the sound coming from my end was good too.

    The Palm Centro supports Bluetooth; I tested this by transferring Ring tones and images from the palm to my laptop with excellent transfer speeds.

    When I was browsing the Internet with the Palm Centro’s Blazer browser over O2’s network I was delighted that I was getting near Broadband speeds.

    Email setup went smoothly, I just entered my ISP details and I was able to send and receive emails, I sat there and was purely using the Palm for a whole after noon to send and reply to email and it handled it just fine, if your use to writing emails on a blackberry then you should be fine with the palm.

    Another good thing about the Palm Centro is that it supports concurrent instant messaging sessions with the three supported IM services AOL, MSN and Yahoo, and allowed me to keep in touch with friends and work colleagues.

    The Palm Centro comes with the Deluxe version of the PTunes music player, which is a nice addition. All preinstalled music sounded surprisingly robust, I also put on some MP3’s of my own and these also sounded excellent.

    The Palm Centro’s also has a 1.3Mp camera captures images at either at 1X or 2X digital zoom which was nothing to really write home about. The palm can also record a short amount of video. Image quality was adequate but nothing special.

    The Palm Centro comes with loads of other useful applications, like Google Maps and DataViz’s Documents to Go for at least basic editing of Microsoft Office applications.

    Conclusion

    Overall the palm Centro is just a palm organiser with a phone added on to it, it’s ok for business and blackberry users, but I suspect that if you’re the type of person that likes a phone to “Do everything” then the palm is not the phone for you. But if all you need is to send text messages, emails edit a word document and browse the internet on the go, then this is the perfect device for you.

    Review by: Phillip

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    Posted in: Reviews

    About the Author:

    More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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