By June 10, 2008

Palm Centro, our first review

image The guys at Palm have been kind enough to loan me a Palm Centro to take a look at, so I jumped at the chance to have a play around with it. As I haven’t used a Palm OS converged device before this is a whole new experience, so I am going to look at Palm as a fresh user which should be interesting.

When the device arrived I opened the box and my first impression of the phone was its size, it is very very small, much smaller than I had imagined, but it is quite thick.(107x53x18mm)

image I charged the phone and decided to dump the iPhone for a while and give the Centro a good work out. I took the back off the phone and tried to put the sim card in the Centro and found that it was very difficult to do, the slot for the sim card is semi recessed on one side and its quite difficult to get it in there. Once I managed to do it, I booted up the phone and have to say start up times are much quicker than Windows Mobile and the iPhone.

I installed HotSync from the included Palm CD Rom and chose to select sync with Outlook so I could get all my contacts and diary appointments on the phone. Err not quite that simple unfortunately, first sync gave me a lot or error messages at the end and told me it could only sync with Outlook up to 2003. Luckily I had Alli Flowers from on Skype at the time and she told me there was definitely a patch released by Palm to allow syncing with Outlook 2007. A quick google search and she was right, I downloaded the patch, installed it and re-synced with no more error messages, all my contacts and diary appointments were now on the Centro.

Setting my Centro up to use Vodafones GPRS service was simple, in fact it was so simple I did not need to do anything the Centro just set itself up, how good is that.

I set up my gmail account as an IMAP account within Palm’s included Versamail program and managed to send and receive email very easily although it has to be said the email program while very functional was pretty basic too.

Now the keyboard, this was the part of the phone I was most interested in, I have read a lot of negative comments about the keyboard being too small and impossible to type on but I have to state this was not the case for me. I loved it, it was so easy to type on with thumbs or fingers and within a very short amount of time I was typing fast and accurately on it, so Palm have done a great job with that on an unbranded phone.

image Looking at the phones software you can see that the Palm OS looks a bit dated, the colours are a bit washed out and plain looking, the device does however have a 320 x 320 resolution display so text and graphics do look crisp just a bit old fashioned however clicking around the operating system is very snappy and doesn’t suffer from any lag or pauses.

The camera is a poor 1.3 MP affair and the quality of the picture and video produced were not the best and when you consider phones like the Nokia N95’s 5 MP offering it cannot compete at that level.

If you have used a Palm device before you will know that there are literally thousands of third party applications that you can download and use on your device which is a fantastic benefit, I tried a couple out and they can be installed via a desktop Hotsync or downloaded over the air.

I tested the Palm Blazer browser and again I was uninspired by the plain looking colours but it was very functional and very easy to use as a non Palm user, book marking sites was a breeze and it seemed to render pages very quickly especially considering I was only using a GPRS connection via Vodafone in the UK, there is no WiFi on the Centro.


Looking at the phone functions, it was especially easy to make calls either dialing the number with the keyboard or accessing contacts from the address book and voice clarity at both ends of the conversation was excellent.

One of the great features of all Palms recent devices has been the inclusion of the ringer switch on the top of the phone, flick it over and the device automatically enters a silent meeting mode, no menus to access just the flip of a switch, yes the iPhones got that but Palm were the first to introduce it and its a brilliant idea.


I wasn’t expecting this to be a top end device and I don’t think it was ever meant to be that, when you take into account the price point of the phone without a contract being under £180.00 then you have to give Palm credit for what they have provided.

If you are looking for a good solid phone that can provide smartphone features without the complications and be very easy and intuitive to use with a lot of add on third party software then the Centro just might be the phone for you.


  • 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


    Thanks to Alli Flowers for all your help with the Centro.

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  • Posted in: Phones

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    Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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