Review: Verizon Centro, featuring Sudoku!

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vzncentroThe Palm Centro for Verizon is finally here. It’s coming in at the $99 price that many first-time smartphone buyers look for, but it doesn’t skimp on features, though it’s not as rich as its AT&T and Sprint cousins. But it has Sudoku!

The Centro

The Centro is Palm’s new low-end device, replacing the “p” series of Treo smartphones. Running Palm OS 5.4.9 Garnet, it’s compatible with thousands of add-on applications, but comes with enough built-in to be useful out of the box.

The Good Stuff

The 320×320 touchscreen is bright and clear, with little pixelization and a very accurate digitizer. That means you don’t miss what you’re aiming for often.

The full QWERTY keyboard has a good feel despite the small size, and is quite usable. You won’t be writing a novel with it, but it’s great for emails or text messaging. Speaking of texting, Palm’s unique threaded text messaging is intact, giving you an IM-like interface for texts.

Sadly there’s no integrated IM client as the AT&T model includes, but there are many third-party apps around to take care of that minor annoyance.

The customizable side button can be mapped to launch the application of your choice. I keep mine on “camera”, mostly because my friends are idiots and photogenic.

I’m glad to see Palm maintained the ringer mute switch at the top of the device, one of the favorite features of the original Treos.

Palm also included City ID, a neat service that tells you the city and state that a call’s coming from or going to.

Not so good

The device takes advantage of Verizon’s fast EV-DO network, though I would have liked to have seen it running on the faster r1 data network Verizon uses rather than the 1xEV-DO r0 network.

The keypad is possibly too tiny for some users. I have big fingers but I’m used to tiny QWERTYs, so I was okay, but other users might not have such an easy time.

The stylus, while adequate, has a cheap, flimsy feel to it. There are replacement styli out there, but the users this phone is marketed to likely wouldn’t know where to start.

The lack of applications is a little disappointing. The lack of IM messaging mentioned above is an annoyance, as is the lack of more than Sudoku or good video apps, and it’s a shame.

One other problem I noticed is that I can’t connected via SSL to a mail sever that uses a self-signed SSL cert. Palm has a tool to get around this on its website, but I couldn’t get it to work. If you have exchange or POP that uses a self-signing cert, don’t use Palm OS.

Conclusion

The Centro is Palm’s consumer smartphone, and in that regard, it’s really great. If you’re a power user or require a faster connection, look elsewhere.

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