AT&T Palm Centro Review
The new AT&T Palm Centro released yesterday offers an ideal solution for people looking for an affordable (only $99 with contract), user-friendly, powerful and extremely versatile smartphone – one that offers a full QWERTY keyboard and high resolution touchscreen which has proven ideal for text messaging, IM, corporate and personal email.
Although it holds relatively less appeal for existing Treonauts because it is in essence a mini Treo and provides little additional upgrade benefits, the fact is nonetheless that the Centro has proven to be an extremely successful platform for Palm. Although the company has not yet released any unit sales figures, many sources point to the Centro being the “bestselling phone at Sprint retail stores” – a clear indication that Palm has done something right and is regaining traction (at least at the entry level end of the market).
As Phil McClendon, Palm's product line manager for consumer smartphones points out: ”The people that will be interested in Centro are new to the smartphone market [migrating from a traditional mobile phone] and tend to be fairly price-sensitive. That is one reason why Centro is a fraction of the cost of the iPhone [and why it has proven so popular].”
My own rationale for upgrading from my existing Treo 680 (or other PalmOS model) to a Centro is fairly straightforward: I am extremely attracted by the much more compact and lighter form factor of the Centro combined with a fully functional (albeit smaller) keyboard while having the benefit of retaining ALL of the other features that continue to make a PalmOS device so appealing to me.
Aside from the great form factor and impressive small keyboard, among others I continue to like the following Centro hardware features:
- Touchscreen: although the touchscreen is smaller in size Palm has kept a high resolution 320x320 display. I didn’t have any problems at all viewing all sorts of information on this screen but admittedly the smaller size does make it just a bit harder to reach some buttons or menus with your fingers using the touchscreen.
- Memory Expansion: although I’ll be missing the 8GB and 16GB SDHC cards currently on my Treo 680 the present maximum of 8GB on a microSDHC card for the Centro should nonetheless prove plenty for most Centronauts.
- New 5Way and Flat Hard Buttons: these new larger flat/flush buttons make the Centro a more elegant (reducing the relative clutter of so many keys) and slimmer looking device.
- Back Speaker: until you hear it it’s hard to describe just how LOUD the new back speaker is – making it perfect for an impromtu music session, for your morning alarm clock and naturally more importantly to ensure that you actually hear your phone ringing when someone calls or texts you.
One of the few downsides on the Palm Centro is a relatively low battery life with a Talk Time of 3.5 hours. Naturally, an extra battery combined with a cradle significantly reduce the limitations. Additionally, we still expect to see an extended battery introduced within the next few months.
On the software front the Palm Centro also continues to deliver impressive ease-of-use and one of the most extensive application offerings with solutions for your communication, entertainment, information and productivity needs. These are now further enhanced on the AT&T version with Push To Talk, Xpress Mail, IM, Pocket Tunes Deluxe and MusicID – I will naturally review all of these in a separate post.
Overall there is no doubt that if you’ve never previously owned a smartphone you’ll quickly start to wonder how you managed to do without one for so long and praise the day that you finally got your hands on a Centro.
Centronauts always have something to rave about…