The Centro runs on Palm OS 5 and there is a lot of built-in software. I have to admit to having a soft spot for the Palm approach to software and user interface design, finding it generally easy to get around within applications.
Even though there doesn’t seem to have been a lot of development work done on the core software since the last Palm OS device launch, the ease of use factor is high enough and the functionality great enough to give this aspect of the device a big thumb’s up.
For example, there is a lot to be said for a simple array of application icons on screen which can be viewed as a complete list or in themed categories such as the pre-defined games, multimedia, and utilities, or grouped into categories you define yourself.
Moreover, pretty much all you could want from a smartphone out of the box is here, with calendar, contacts, email and messaging, memo taker and task manager. In addition, Documents To Go is pre installed, giving you access to document reading, editing and creation in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and plain text. There is also the already mentioned music player, a voice recorder, Web browser and pre-installed Google maps. Mobile email comes courtesy of VersaMail which can collect messages from POP accounts and works with Microsoft Exchange for office based push email.
Even though Palm devices have been thin on the ground lately there is an army of third party software you can add to the mix to bulk out the pre-installed stuff.
The Palm software has always scored big on ease of use in my book, and it does so again here. But the hardware suffers from a cramped keyboard, small screen and proprietary interfaces. Without Wi-Fi or 3G it lags behind the leaders in the Windows Mobile and S60 camps too.
It is great to see Palm back with a new product. But with no cutting edge features Palm has returned with a fizzle rather than a bang.
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