It's no secret that Palm has been struggling of late to keep up with the smartphone competition. A lack of innovation and a stale operating system is partly to blame. However, the company made a bit of a comeback with its Palm Centro device, which debuted with Sprint last October. The Centro offered a more compact design while still cramming in all the features of a Palm , and at the fraction of the price. It was a good move and breathed some new life into Palm as the smartphone has garnered a fair share of fans.
Now, AT&T customers can enjoy the same benefits of the Centro that Sprint users have been able to for a few months--well, for the most part. The Palm Centro for AT&T features the same ease of use and affordable $99 price tag (with two-year contract and after discounts and rebates) of its CDMA cousin and even gets a fresh look with a white-and-green color scheme. That said, we're disappointed that it lacks 3G support, testing your patience with slower EDGE speeds. Still, for its intended audience of first-time smartphone buyers, you really can't beat the Palm Centro's simplicity and price tag.
Aside from the color, the Palm Centro for AT&T is essentially identical to the Sprint Palm Centro in design. The AT&T model has a pearly white casing (though, Palm officially calls it glacier white), and features lime green number keys. It definitely gives the device a more youthful and playful look that bodes well for its target audience of young professionals and first-time smartphone buyers. That said, AT&T plans to release a black version in March for those who want a more corporate-looking device.
The Centro measures 4.2 inches tall by 2.1 inches wide by 0.7 inch deep and weighs 4.2 ounces. It will slip into a pants pocket, but it's a smidge on the thicker side, so it might make for a tight fit. Still, it sure beats the bulky Treo, and it's really pretty compact, considering that it's equipped with a 2.25-inch, 320x320 touch screen and a full QWERTY keyboard. The tradeoff is that the keyboard is on the cramped side. Though individual buttons are tactile, they're tiny, so it's going to require some time for acclimation. On the other hand, the navigation array--Talk and End buttons, shortcuts to the Calendar, Inbox, Phone, and Home page, and toggle--is spacious and easy to use.
Other design elements on the Palm Centro include a volume rocker and a push-to-talk button on the left side, and an infrared port and microSD expansion slot on the right spine. The latter is protected by an attached cover, but unfortunately, you can't open it unless you take off the battery cover. In addition, to insert the SIM card, you have to remove the stylus--minor annoyances. There's a silent ringer switch on top of the device, and a 2.5mm headset jack and multiconnector port are on the bottom. Finally, the camera lens, self-portrait mirror, and speaker are located on back of the Centro.
AT&T packages the Palm Centro with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ring tones, and help page.
The Palm Centro for AT&T has some hits and misses as far as features. Starting with voice features, the Centro offers a speakerphone, three-way calling, voice dialing, speed dial, and the "ignore with text" feature, which allows you to reply to a call with a text message if you can't pick up. The Centro also continues to support text and multimedia messaging with threaded text chat view. The phone book is limited only by the available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts), and there's room in each entry for multiple numbers, e-mail addresses, instant-messaging handles, and birthdays. For caller ID purposes, you can assign a picture, any of 37 polyphonic ringtones, or a group ID. In addition, unlike the Sprint version, the smartphone supports AT&T's Push-to-Talk (PTT) service, allowing you to instantly see the availability of your contacts before calling them and make individual or group PTT calls. PTT plans start at $9.99 per month.