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Palm Centro for AT&T

Tue Feb 19, 2008 - 8:21 AM EST - By Dieter Bohn

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Would you recommend Palm Centro for ATT?
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Product Info

More Applications

Launcher & PIM Apps


The history of the Centro is that it grew out of adding phone functionality to the Palm Pilot organizer (to oversimplify just a bit). As such, the Personal Information Management features of the Centro are second to none. We've already discussed the Contacts application, but there's also a full Calendar, ToDo list, and Memo pad as well.

All of these apps have benefited from nearly 15 years of refinement from Palm. The result isn't necessarily the sexiest organizer applications you'll see on a mobile device, but they are quite possibly the easiest to use -- and use quickly. In all three of these applications you can just start typing and the application will immediately jump to creating a new appointment / todo / memo. You can jump around the different entry fields quickly and easily with either the stylus or the 5-way pad.

Of course, again, "power users" will find a cornucopia of 3rd party replacements that add more style or more panache to the device.

You get at all of these apps via the Launcher (accessed with the Home button). The launcher is little more than a default application launcher. You can categorize apps, check some basic memory space specs, and just a bit more here. One nice touch is that if you hold down the home button, a quick list of your most recent applications pops up for faster switching.

You'll find, though, that you'll want to launch most apps directly from the Phone application -- or else find a 3rd party solution that's more powerful (and prettier) than the basic launcher app.

Centro Centro


The Centro is also able to browse the web, of course. Unfortunately, unlike it's Sprint cousin, it's only able to do it at EDGE speeds. A good rule of thumb for EDGE is that it's slightly faster than a basic dial-up connection, but will often feel slower than you'd like it to be. One of the happy side-effects of the iPhone's splash is that AT&T has worked very hard to beef up their EDGE network, so connections these days tend to be faster and more reliable than they were even a year ago.

Centro Centro Centro

One of the themes of this review, if you haven't caught on yet, is that PalmOS is a little aged but still holding up fairly well. The same applies to its web browser, Blazer. It renders webpages just passably well and with decent speed, but it's not going to knock your sox off. You'll definitely want to build up a list of mobile sites that will render faster and better on Blazer. Palm has been kind enough to create just such a list at, so that site will be one of your first visits.

Otherwise Blazer basically just does the job -- you can scroll up and down quickly by pressing up and down, and then scroll between links by pressing left and right. There's a decent bookmark section as well.

Make no mistake, Blazer is almost surely better than the browser you'll find on a standard featurephone, but it's not quite as good as some of the competition out there, and nowhere near as good as the iPhone's browser.


Centro Centro

The Centro also comes with DocsToGo built in. DocsToGo is an excellent mobile office suite that's capable of reading Microsoft Office documents natively. Even better (and unlike the iPhone or BlackBerrys), it's able to create and edit these documents as well. Very complexly formatted Documents or Spreadsheets might pose a bit of a problem for DocsToGo, but overall it handles the job very well.

DocsToGo was also the first mobile office suite to handle the latest Office Document formation, .docx, and it performs as snappily (if not more so) on the so-called antiquated PalmOS as it does on newer platforms. It's the rare application that's not only great for productivity but is also easy to use.


The music application on the Centro is called PocketTunes and it's a pretty good MP3 player. It can also handle Windows Media files -- including the ones with copyright protection from some online music services. You'll obviously want to invest in a microSD card to store your music, which PocketTunes will automatically detect and display for you.

Centro Centro

Again, the only real hassle when it comes to listening to music with your Centro isn't the music software, it's the fact that the Centro uses a 2.5 mm headset jack instead of a standard 3.5mm one.

Other Applications


The Centro has a few other nice applications built in, notably an Instant Messenger application that works with AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and MSN Messenger.

The application is able to run in the background all the time, but does take up a bit of battery power. You'll also find there's a slight delay in sending and receiving messages when compared to a desktop client, but overall it's pretty decent and a very nice freebie on top of everything else on the Centro.

Centro Centro

There's another app called "My Centro" which is a clever online help tool. It connects up to Palm's help database to assist you with common questions you might have about how to use your Centro. You'll want to jump into it early and register -- as doing so gives you access to a free Solitaire game and a free Sudoku game.

Let's list all the applications included on the Centro here, with notes on the ones I haven't touched on yet.


  • My Centro
  • Push To Talk
  • Quick Tour - Nice when you first start the Centro
  • Xpress Mail - An AT&T application that gives you Push Email with any service. It's nice, but I often find it's not as reliable as just directly setting email up and having it checked every half hour.
  • AT&T Mall - One of many AT&T "stub apps" that amount to shortcuts to buy their services.
  • AT&T Music - see "AT&T Mall
  • Bluetooth - The app to control and set up Bluetooth Headsets, also accessible via Preferences
  • Calc - A simple calculator
  • Calendar
  • Camcorder - The movie version of the camera app
  • Camera
  • Card Info - Provides information about your expansion card, also lets you format it
  • Contacts
  • Documents To Go
  • EmailCentro
  • Get MobiTV - Stub app to download MobiTV, a TV viewer app. In my experience EDGE data isn't quite fast enough to handle it gracefully.
  • Get XM Radio - Another stub for XM Radio. You need an XM subscription for this to work. Unlike MobiTV, streaming audio works just fine over EDGE.
  • Get TeleNav - Downloads TeleNav, an excellent GPS program that downloads Maps via your EDGE connection and uses an external GPS receiver for location. Highly recommended!
  • HotSync - The program that syncs your data to the desktop
  • Instant Messenger
  • Memos
  • Messaging
  • MusicID - For-pay service that identifies songs you hear on the radio. Fun.
  • Phone
  • Pics&Videos
  • PreferencesCentro
  • Pocket Tunes
  • Security - Locks the phone with a password, if you like
  • SIM Book - Manages data on your SIM card
  • SIM Services - Ditto
  • Sounds - Manages your sounds, ringtones, etc
  • Tasks
  • Voice Dial - This is a voice dialer program, but you can use it to start text messages, email, open apps, and so on. It works reasonably well, but isn't as convenient as the standard favorites in the Phone application.
  • Voice Memo
  • Web
  • World Clock - A world clock, notable because this is where the PalmOS measly, lone alarm clock is squirreled away

3rd Party Power

On its own, the Centro is a perfectly capable, easy to use smartphone. What really makes it shine, though, are 3rd party applications. I've already mentioned a couple of apps that I like, I could easily mention hundreds (!) more. A quick perusal through the TreoCentral forums can show you what I mean. No matter what you want your Centro to do for you, from shopping databases to crossword puzzles to sales management tools to sophisticated mapping and GPS tools to... to whatever, there's almost surely a 3rd party application built for you.

Just using this review unit for a week, I've installed TeleNav, Google Maps, a Crossword puzzle application, Ultimate Phone for photo speed dial, Sudoku, Solitaire, SnapperMail, and a handful of others. The nice thing about most software for the Centro is that it comes in trial version -- you can try before you buy. If you're on the fence about getting a Centro, consider registering for the TreoCentral forums and asking a question or two there -- after searching for the answer, of course, as your questions has probably already been answered!

Centro Centro Centro

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