Centro accessories trickle in, a few at a time, and charging cradles have been among the last to show up. This new one from Cellet is, in my book, not to be counted. I found a number of problems with it. Indeed, mine is dead.
Let me hasten to clarify: I killed it during my research for this review. The device hooked up easily to my computer with the included (thank you, Cellet!) USB charging cable. It charged the Centro that I entrusted to it without a hitch, though the Centro never achieved 100 percent charge, even after being on the cradle overnight. With Palms USB cable charger, the same Centro reaches 99 percent, no problem.
Inspired, I put a spare Centro battery in the units spare battery compartment and charged it. It too never reached full charge. Moving the battery to the Centro confirmed the incomplete charge, 85 to 91 percent.
The Desktop Cradle holds a Centro and a spare Centro battery, and will charge one or both. The manual, which could use some improvement, says the spare battery slot only charges from AC wall current. The Centro will charge either from AC or from a USB port on a computer.
As I checked out the unit, I wondered whether the battery compartment was protected against incorrect insertion of the battery. The Centro itself, for example, has such a failsafe provision. Unless you apply a large hammer, you cannot insert the battery the wrong way. Thats Product Design 101, the rank beginners course. Palm achieves this feat of considerate magic by building two different sized projections onto the battery. These fit into small and large indents in the battery compartments side wall. If the batterys upside down, the wide peg wont go into the narrow opening. The simple, mechanical shape of the battery compartment wont let you short out the Centro or ruin the battery. Or both.
Not so with Cellets Desktop Cradle. I dont know why I even actually tested putting the battery in wrong. It should NOT have been an issue. Cellets battery compartment has the wide and narrow indents, and the battery wont go in all the way when its wrong side up; however, it apparently makes sufficient contact with the battery terminals in the compartment to destroy the charger. Thats what happened. After I tested the battery charging feature, I tried to put the battery in backwards and destroyed the Cellet cradle. Worse, the thing shorted out the USB section of my computer. Fortunately, the PCs USB came back after I cold started the box. I was not amused.
The computer came back, but the cradle didnt. It continued to short out the PCs USB, requiring a reboot, every time I hooked up its USB cable. Both of my desktop computers do the same. I didnt test with my laptop.
I emailed the companys support line and described the problem. I got this answer in about a week:
Thank you for purchasing Cellet product(s). I apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced with our product(s). The unit seems to be defective.
Please visit our website www.cellet.com. On the bottom of the homepage you will see the warranty section where you can find the Warranty Claim Form. Make sure to read the terms of warranty and then send the form, defective merchandise, and the receipt to the address given on the page. If the merchandise is determined to be covered under the warranty we will send a replacement within 30 business days.
Its troublesome to figure out from the warranty statement whether the unit is covered, and for how long. Judge for yourself. Heres a direct link to their warranty page. Anyway, I killed the thing by doing what I wasnt supposed to be doing, so I didnt send in the form.
Thirty business days for a repaired or replacement unit seems like too long. Its only a $25 product, sure, and not essential to life on this planet, but a few business days ought to be plenty for any necessary paperwork and a unit to be on its way back to the consumer.
Before it died, I did manage to observe the Centro Desktop Cradle Charger at work. I found its performance none too stellar, as already mentioned.
Another problem is the units lack of a hardware button for HotSync. You can still HotSync (using the USB cable, of course), but you have to start the process with the Centro software.
Cellet needs some rethinking on their Centro Desktop Cradle Charger. The electronics ought to do the work, and allow for errors by the user. Im back to using the Palm charging cable, anyway, and it has a convenient HotSync button.
- Design 2
- Usability 2
- Support 2
- Cost/Benefit 1
- Overall 1
About my ratings
Ive given Cellets Desktop Charge Cradle low marks primarily because of the problem with inverting the battery. Except for that using it to charge only the Centro, for example Id raise the ratings, and bring the overall rating to three, instead of one.
Pros and Cons
- Decent looks with reasonably efficient use of space
- Charges an extra Centro battery
- Works with house current or USB cable
- USB cable included, along with AC cable
- Erratic behavior with Windows XP Pro SP3
- No hardware HotSync button
- Inserting battery upside down shorts out the unit. Permanently.
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