|Wed Oct 10, 2007 - 12:27 PM EDT - By Dieter Bohn|
In our first Hands On with the Palm Centro, we covered the basics of what we could expect from the device. Now that we have the review unit in-hand, the first thing is to see how it stacks up against the competition.
The Centro's form factor (with the possible exception of the keyboard) is clearly better than any Treo I've used to date. The smaller screen isn't really a factor for me - the fact that it's still 320x320 means that it's razer (or RAZR, if you want to be cute) sharp. It feels incredibly solid in the hand -- this is a "phone" form factor and I had forgotten how nice standard candybar phones feel.
Compared to other "consumer-level" smartphones, the Centro actually holds its own quite well. Although it is thicker than the Blackjack and the T-Mobile Dash, it's also much less wide and that more than makes up for the added thickness -- at least for this writer.
The Centro is meant to pull people away from standard "feature phone" cell phones, however. So the more apt comparison would be to a RAZR. Comparing it to the RAZR 2 is interesting. It is, of course, much thicker than the RAZR, and surprisingly enough the screen is slightly smaller overall. Even more interesting - the QWERTY keyboard on the Centro is about the same width as the standard phone keypad on the RAZR 2 and it's significantly shorter. In other words - if Motorola ever gets it in their head to put a QWERTY keyboard on a RAZR, Palm might have some difficulty creating the "new smartphone users" they're going for.
So far, we don't have any gripes about the keyboard. It's much more usable than I expected still -- though more testing is needed before I can give it unqualified approval. People with long fingernails or very large thumbs may find it won't work. The small size also means that it's more difficult to "type blindly" without looking at the Treo -- at least for me. It will take some time before I can say whether it's even possible to be as proficient with this smaller keyboard as with the standard Treo keyboard.
The Centro should be available in Sprint stores and at Palm.com early next week. The price point is an important one: $99 after activation. TreoCentral will have a full review of the Centro soon.
If you're looking for more Centro info right now, the place to go is this forum thread, where I'm answering TreoCentral member questions about the phone.
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