Palm centro: follow up review

A few months ago I finally purchased a new cell phone, a Palm Centro, first in about 5 years. My review was positive, but as with most reviews, them come early in the life of using the thing, and you never get to hear what happens after months of of usage. So here’s a follow up review – Steve asked for one, so here it is (Hi Steve!).

Palm Centro

In short: I still love this phone.

The good:

High ease of use, simple design, I love the keyboard (YMMV – see picture), it’s small enough to slide into any of my pockets and has decent to good battery life. There are various little UI design elements they got right, such as reply to a missed call with a txt message, a nice vibrate switch right on top of the phone (can switch it without taking it out of pocket), and an easily toggle-able flight mode for being on planes.

It has a handy pseudo-GPS feature, that uses cell-towers to triangulate position in google-maps. Works great. I use it all the time. It’s accurate to within 500-1000 feet which is enough to get a map I can figure out no matter where I am.

I rarely use the stylus that comes with the device – a finger works fine 90% of the time in all the UI I use.

The bad: There are a few minor complaints. Trying to be thorough here, but despite the list these things are minor. Rarely encountered or little impact.

  • Minor performance issues. The phone can get lost when you have too many apps working – switching between them sometimes can be slow. In these moments it feels like the device needs more RAM.
  • Web browser is adequate. I use it often and its fine. It’s definitely underpowered for large pages and it doesn’t handle this well. So if you happen to hit a complex 500kb table or something, the browser chokes – it will time itself out after 20 seconds or so, but it’s not fun. This is rare, but does happen if you’re doing heavy web browsing and end up on heavy duty pages. The close window button is too small to hit with a finger, so you need the stylus to kill the browser.
  • The sync plug is a bear. It’s a strange plug, with a wide two pronged adapter. It’s impossible to get this thing out without a lot of force, and I’m always afraid I’m going to break it, which would make the phone impossible to sync. It is a durable plug, it’s just designed in a way that makes me nervous when I use it.
  • PDF support is slow. There may be a better PDF viewer than the one I have, but the I have makes sleeping turtles look fast, and its UI is frustrating – feels like a bad port of a standalone viewer, not one designed for a small screen. It works, but is slow and annoying. I tried to read a restaurant menu through it once, scrolling around, trying to zoom in and out, and simply gave up.

So if you can’t wait for the Palm Pre, which looks pretty sharp, The Palm Centro (product info here) could be a good choice.

2 Responses to “Palm centro: follow up review”

  1. Brian DeMarzo

    I have used a Palm Treo 650 for about four years and it has served me very well. You may want to check out ChatterMail, a fantastic email client, if you’re not happy with whatever comes built-in.

    That being said, I am planning on going Palm Pre as soon as they are released. I even skipped renewing my Verizon Wireless contract (and the chance at a cheap/free Blackberry) so I can switch to Sprint (ack!).

    Good luck with the Centro. The Palm OS is old and has issues, but it’s still damn good.

  2. pcunite

    For me it came down to this and the BlackBerry 8320. I loved the size of the Palm Centro but felt that day after day of heavy text/email use I would grow to regret my decision. With the BlackBerry 8900 I think a pinnacle has been reached. Next should come phone sized true computers.


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