Palm have announced the European release of their Palm OS-based Centro smartphone, their smallest and lightest Palm smartphone to date.
Looking rather similar to the Windows Mobile 6-based Treo 500 we reviewed a while ago, the Palm OS version is thinner and taller, and packs a small QWERTY keyboard with a bright, crisp, high resolution 320 x 320, 65,536-colour touchscreen display.
Aimed at students, young professionals and ‘CEO of households’ (wha’?!), the 4 oz Centro offers quad-band GSM/GPRS/Edge connectivity (but sadly no 3G and no Wi-Fi), Bluetooth version 1.2 and a 1.3-megapixel camera.
User-accessible memory has been boosted to 64MB – a figure that may not sound much to Windows Mobiles users, but Palm programs are often considerably smaller than their WM equivalents – while external memory storage comes in the shape of Micro SDHC cards. Palm says that the Centro will support cards up to 4GB, but users elsewhere have reported higher capacity cards working.
Although it may look considerably sleeker than previous Palm Treo smartphones, it’s still running on the same near-ancient v5.4.9 operating system inside. Despite its age, the Palm OS still provides a fast and intuitive interface and it has the advantage of being supported by a truly immense range of freeware and commercial programs.
There’s also a good package of bundled software with the Centro, including the excellent Pocket Tunes MP3 player, Versamail email, Palm’s fully featured PIM applications and the superb Documents To Go Professional suite offering the ability to create, edit and view native Word and Excel compatible files, and view PowerPoint and PDF documents.
The Centro can be used as a modem for connecting a laptop to the Internet via Bluetooth, and supports Microsoft Direct Push Technology for delivery of Outlook email, as well as personal email, such as Gmail and Yahoo!.
The Centro has proved a hit in the States, with Palm reporting higher than expected sales figures, although we could find no UK operators offering the phone when we wrote this (we checked with T-Mobile and they told us that they currently had no plans to offer the Centro).
Although the lack of Wi-Fi and 3G are major omissions, we’d say that £199 for a SIM-free, quadband phone sporting a high-res 320 x320 touchscreen, a class-leading set of Office apps, Palm’s user-friendly interface, and a fair smattering of multimedia gizmos, is something of a bargain, so we’ll try and get our hands on one when the phone becomes available from Feb 14th.
Display 320×320-pixel Transflective colour screen; supports 16-bit colour (up to 65K colours)
Radio Quad band (850/900-1800/1900) GSM/GPRS/EDGE Class 10
Platform Palm OS 5.4.9
Bluetooth Version 1.2
Memory 64MB available user storage
Camera 1.3 megapixels with 2 x digital zoom and video capture
Battery Removable 1150mAh, lithium-ion up to 4 hours talk time, up to 300 hours standby time
Expansion microSD card (up to 4GB supported, sold separately)
Dimensions 4.22″ (h) x 2.11″ (W) x 0.73″ (d); 4.2 oz
System Requirements Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS X v10.2-10.4
Calculator, Camcorder, Camera, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Memos, Documents to Go Professional Edition 10, Google Mobile Maps, HotSync, My Centro, Phone, Pics and Video, PocketTunes, Quick Tour, VersaMail 4.0, VoiceDial , Voice Memo, Web (Blazer 4.5), World Clock, Solitaire and Palm Files.