Palm's Centro: First Impressions, Unboxing

We don’t know why you love unboxings, but you do. Here we have the first Centro from Palm, running on Sprint’s Power Vision Super Extreme Mega network.

For those of you who might not know, the Centro is Palm’s follow-up to the popular Treo line of smartphones. Features-wise, it’s pretty similar. The Centro takes the Treo’s aged form-factor up to a more modern level. The Centro isn’t the smallest smartphone out there, but it competes nicely.

Let me state first off that I was surprised how lightweight the phone is. In my pants pocket, I could easily forget it’s there. There has been some concern about the size of the keys, and while the keypad is a bit cramped, it’s easily usable. I’d rather use this keypad than the one on the Blackberry Pearl, one of its direct competitors.

Sprint doesn’t mess around with the software here. Included is a full Office document reading, writing, and editing suite called Documents To Go (or Dox to some of us old-schoolers), and the implementation here works great.

Also included is Google Maps and the full version of pTunes, making the Centro a decent MP3 machine as well. If you have a data plan, which you’ll want, you get streaming Internet radio as well.

There’s much more software as well, and I feel the need to point out that it’s software, not trialware. Almost everything is full-version with full support. That’s a move in the right direction from Palm.

For those of you squinting at the photos above, that is indeed an IR port next to the microSD slot. Better to have it and not need it, we’re guessing.

The dock and power ports at the bottom are a hold-over from the Treo, so if you’re upgrading your accessories should all work fine. They stylus is lightweight plastic and kind of chintzy. Sure, it cuts down on the weight, but I prefer a solid feel to my stylus. Maybe that’s just me.

The camera takes nice, sharp, contrasty photos. While a flash would have been nice, it’s a doable 1.3-Megapixels. The camcorder function is actually quite nice, and while the images look good, they’re only at 352×288. While it’s YouTube-friendly, you’ll not want to throw your digicam out soon.

A final note is that the Centro retains the Treo’s ringer switch. It was stolen by Apple, but Treo fans will tell you it’s likely the most-used external button on the handset. Other manufacturers: rip this off.