No high-speed internet or bells and whistles, but an easy-to-use and pocketable email phone nonetheless
Mobile phone manufacturers have relentlessly worked to slim down their handsets, but smartphones have had a more troubled history. It’s far more difficult to produce the ultimate in slim, sleek phones when you need a big enough screen to write and read email, and a keypad that’s usable enough to tap out more than the odd SMS.
It’s a challenge that Palm’s latest handset – the Centro – tackles head on and it’s one, at first glance, that it has met successfully. It isn’t exactly the slimmest or smallest smartphone around – that would be the BlackBerry Pearl or HTC Touch. For a device with a full QWERTY keypad, however, it’s remarkably pocketable. It’s very light, too, at just 124g.
Usually, a keyboard this small ends up being fiddly and unusable. That was the case with the Treo 500v, which looks like the Centro’s big brother, but it isn’t nearly as bad with the Centro. It’s still fiddly but the rubbery keys provide enough tactile feedback to make knocking out emails much more comfortable than on the 500v or the Pearl’s pseudo-QWERTY pad.
Another difference between the Centro and the 500v is that it runs on Palm OS instead of Windows Mobile 6. This, coupled with the device’s usable touchscreen, means the Centro is both responsive and extremely easy to use. It doesn’t have push email out of the box as Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices do, but the VersaMail application that’s included is both easy to set up and use. It has Google Maps preinstalled, and document compatibility is excellent thanks to the superb DataViz Documents To Go.
One slight black mark is the proprietary connector, which you’ll need for synchronising with a PC and to charge the Centro. Expect around four days from a full battery. The relatively slow GSM/GPRS/EDGE data connection and small 2.2in screen also mean web browsing isn’t a strength, while the lack of Wi-Fi and GPS stops it from matching the all-singing TyTN II (see A-List).
But if you’re after a compact email phone (or your first smartphone), that offers ease of use and simplicity coupled with a reasonable SIM-free price – $299 – the Centro is a good choice.
This Review appeared in the August, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing
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