Review: FIRST LOOK: Palm Centro, want to ditch Windows Mobile?

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Review: FIRST LOOK: Palm Centro, want to ditch Windows Mobile?

It's not for meetings, it's for meeting up. If you don't like the bulk of a Treo, here's your smartphone.

Palm's new Centro is a stripped-down smartphone with a tiny QWERTY keyboard and a tiny price tag. It's a pre-paid phone only available from Telstra, which makes sense because it's not 3G so you'll get the best data speeds from Telstra's EDGE network. It features Bluetooth 1.2 and IR but no wifi, which the target market probably doesn't want anyway.

It's the narrowest of Palm's smartphones, and the least smartphone-looking, but the trade off is a tiny keyboard that's designed for one-thumb typing and is slow going for anything more than typing an SMS or calendar entry. Even so the Centro comes with Documents to Go Pro 10, but iPhone-like auto-correction is sadly missing.

Centro is the first Palm smartphone since the 680 to run Palm OS (OS v5.4.9 Garnet) rather than Windows Mobile, and it features the 680's 312 MHz Intel processor. It offers consumer-friendly features such as threaded SMS, PocketTunes, a 1.3 megapixel camera, video capture and Google Maps integration with the address book.

There's also Palm's typical PIM features, the impressive Blazer browser and the mail client with MS Exchange compatibility. Desktop synchronisation is handled by Palm Desktop for Mac or Windows. There's 64 MB of non-volatile RAM, plus a microSD card slot that takes cards up to 4 GB.

The Centro feels sturdy but not too weighty at 124 grams, while the 2.25 inch 320x320 display is crisp and bright.

Assuming you can live without Windows Mobile, 3G and wifi, there's no "gotcha" here - the Centro is a wallet-friendly smartphone for those with a busy social life. If entry-level phones don't meet your needs, but you don't want the bulk or expense of a Treo, the Centro puts a fully-fledged smartphone in your pocket at an amazing price.

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