When it comes to the screen Palm has stuck with its familiar square format cramming 320 x 320 pixels into an area measuring 2.2 inches corner to corner. In size terms the screen is a lot smaller than you’d expect on a Windows Mobile handheld, and close in dimensions to the Pearl’s. Importantly, though, and unlike the Pearl, the Centro has a touchscreen.
Between screen and keyboard the shortcut buttons are thankfully large and taking and ending calls and switching between Home, the dialler, calendar and messaging centre was easy to do.
The Centro is a quad-band handset with GPRS and EDGE but no 3G. It has infra red and Bluetooth built-in but no Wi-Fi. Palm has always been shy of Wi-Fi and rarely builds it into its devices, though I had hoped it might have overcome the fear this time round. It has 64MB of user storage and a microSD card slot for adding more. You get to the slot by removing the battery cover.
The camera is way back in the dark ages. I’ve been saying for some months now that 2-megapixels is entry-level for a smartphone, and along comes Palm and slaps a 1.3-megapixel camera in the Centro. With no flash and minimal effects and settings the camera is way behind much of the smartphone opposition.
Another area where the Centro disappointed was battery life. The Centro comes with a music player, and I ran my usual battery rundown test for mobile phones and smartphones, getting the Centro to play music non-stop for as long as it could manage. This turned out to be five and a quarter hours which is average in comparison with other smartphones I’ve tested over the last year or so.
While on the subject of power, Palm continues to stick with its proprietary mains power adaptor and PC sync cable connector. This is likely to prove really irritating if you already carry a mini USB charger or like to use that USB cable which is always plugged into your computer. The 2.5mm, one piece, poor quality headset also annoyed me. I think Palm really does need to take a look at where the market is in these respects and learn to follow some trends. On the other hand, the mute button on the top of the casing and customisable button on the left edge are both welcome features.
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