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If you are looking for a smartphone that is not bulky and has excellent features, then the Palm Centro may just be the phone for you. It is available for Telstra prepaid customers for an attractive price of $299, which makes it a very affordable smartphone.


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The Centro is small and light, comes with a touch screen for easy browsing and navigation, and fits comfortably in the hand. It has a full QWERTY keyboard too, although the buttons are tiny and cramped, forcing us to press buttons using our fingertips.

Out of the box, the unit comes with a CD with a Palm Desktop software installer, rechargeable battery, AC charger with adapters, headset, and proprietary USB sync cable.

A switch that turns the unit’s ringer on/off is found on top of the unit, while users will find a lanyard loop, proprietary power connector and sync connector, and headset jack (2.5mm jack) can be found on the bottom. A customisable side button and volume keys can be found on the left side of the Centro, while an IR port and microSD card slot can be found on the right spine.

The 320×320 colour touchscreen, five-way navigation keys, Phone button, Calendar button, Applications button, Messaging button, Send button, and End/Power button can all be found up front, giving users easy access to various applications with a single touch. Finally, the stylus, 1.3-megapixel camera sensor, and speaker are found at the back of the Centro.

 


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Palm Keypad: Cramped
The Centro uses Palm’s OS, which is easy to use but is fairly ‘limited’ when compared to other smartphones that utilise Windows Mobile 6. The Centro comes with a lot of applications that keep things organised. Palm has divided the shortcuts into four major groups: Phone, Calendar, Messaging, and Applications.

The Phone option give users access to the dial pad, favourite contacts, main phone menu, stored contacts, and call logs. The Calendar function displays the calendar by day, week, month, or as an agenda list. One can set a start time, end time, duration, and frequency of a specific event, allowing users to schedule repeating meetings or events that repeats at an interval. The Messaging hotkey give users access to their home or office e-mail anytime as the Centro has a VersaMail e-mail application that supports POP and IMAP e-mail accounts.

Clicking the Applications hotkey displays all the programs available for the user. Applications like BigPond, My Centro, Quick Tour, Bluetooth, Calculator, Calendar, Camcorder, Camera, Card Info, Contacts, Documents, Email, Google Maps, HotSync, Memos, Messaging, Phone, Pics and Videos, Preferences, pTunes (Pocket Tunes), Security, SIM Book, SIM services, Sounds, Tasks, Voice Memo, VoiceDial, Web browser, and World Clock can be accessed with one touch/click.

The 1.3-megapixel camera produced decent shots but lacks advanced settings that may improve picture quality. It can be saved to your device, to the microSD card, or sent to friends via e-mail or MMS, but may not be suitable for printing.

 


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HotSync Manager can backup and synchronise data by connecting the USB sync cable to any USB port and to the smartphone. The program allows a user to install new Palm applications, configure the synchronisation settings of the various applications (Synchronise the files, Desktop overwrites handheld, Handheld overwrites Desktop, and Do Nothing), and perform a HotSync by pressing the Sync button on the cable.

Since the Centro is not a 3G phone, retrieving e-mails and surfing the Internet will not be as fast and smooth as other 3G/HSDPA-enabled phones in the market. But for what it is, this phone is still able to do its job without a hitch.

Palm promises up to 4 hours of talk time and up to 300 hours standby time, which is not bad for a smartphone. Just remember to bring your charger along if you are planning to constantly send and receive e-mails as it will suck juice faster than just talking or texting.

Overall, this prepaid smartphone from Telstra is well-worth worth the $299 – it will keep you organised, will constantly keep you in touch with your friends and colleagues, and can be your mobile sidekick anywhere. Just remember that e-mail, messaging, and web access requires data services from a mobile service provider at an additional cost.

See page over for product specifications and final rating.

 

 Palm Centro Specifications:

Screen: 320×320-pixel Transflective colour screen; supports 16-bit colour (up to 65K colours)
Radio: Quad band (850/900-1800/1900) GSM/GPRS/EDGE Class 10
Platform: Palm OS 5.4.9
Bluetooth Wireless Technology: Version 1.2
Memory: 64MB available user storage
Camera: 1.3 megapixels with 2 x digital zoom and video capture
Battery: Removable 1150mAh, lithium-ion up to 4 hours talk time, up to 300 hours standby time
Expansion: microSD card (up to 4GB supported, sold separately)
Connector: Multi-connector
System Requirements: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS X v10.2-10.4
Dimensions: 107.2 mm (L) x 53.5 mm (W) x 18.6 mm (D)
Weight: 124 grams

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Palm Centro | $299 ($50 Unlocking Fee) |  | www.palm.com/au

For: Attractive price point; Easy to use; Comes with a lot of programs to keep you organised
Against: Cramped keypad; No 3G; No bundled microSD; Additional costs for web access
Conclusion: Palm’s smartphone is cheap as – go for it.

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