So, Palm has finally decided to launch its Centro in the UK. We've had a bit of a wait since it appeared in the US last September, but at least you can get it SIM free at launch rather than being tied into an exclusive deal with a particular operator.
This is the first Palm OS based device for ages. Sorry to be so unspecific but I really did have to trawl my archives to find the last one.
It turns out to have been the Treo 680 which appeared way back towards the tail end of 2006. In between then and now we've had two Windows Mobile devices, the Treo 750 and the Treo 500 both of which were Vodafone exclusives at the start.
This is hardly what you'd call a prolific launch policy and with the continued dominance of Windows Mobile and the rise of S60, Palm has faded away in the minds of many as a smartphone manufacturer.
Is the Centro going to do enough to get Palm back to the centre stage position it once had?
Well, before I even switched the Centro on I had some doubts. Checking Palm's US Web site I found the Centro to be available in white, pink, red and black. However in the UK black is the only colour available. Are we not worthy of a wider array, then, Palm?
The Centro is aiming to take on the consumer market where the Treo line was more business focussed. The fact that we loose out on the colour options in the UK detracts from the consumer friendly image a bit, as does the fact that despite Palm's insistence that this is their smallest and lightest phone centric device it is still no match for the keyboard-equipped BlackBerry Pearl series which is similar in footprint but considerably thinner and lighter. For the record the Centro weighs in at 121g and measures 107 x 53 x 19mm.
On the other hand the Centro offers a full QWERTY mini keyboard in contrast to the Pearl's SureType based one. That keyboard is comprised of fairly large keys closely spaced and individually raised and rounded. It is probably the smallest a QWERTY keyboard can get and remain usable, and even I, with very small fingers, found it difficult to type accurately at my usual texting speed.