AT&T and Palm launch the GSM Palm Centro for US$99.99

Back in October I had the chance to check out the Palm Centro for Sprint and thought it was a very good device for the new smartphone buyer. Since that time I know several people that have purchased one and love the device. AT&T and Palm today announced the availability of the Palm Centro from AT&T. The device has the same design and specifications as the Sprint Palm Centro, but unfortunately lacks a 3G radio. It is a quad-band GSM device with support for the EDGE data network. The first model available is the Glacier white model with green highlights with an Obsidian black model becoming available in about a month. The device is available today starting at US$99.99 with 2-year service agreement and for those looking to move from a feature phone to a smartphone I think this is a decent choice available at a good price.

Back in October I had the chance to check out the Palm Centro for Sprint and thought it was a very good device for the new smartphone buyer. Since that time I know several people that have purchased one and love the device. AT&T and Palm today announced the availability of the Palm Centro from AT&T. The device has the same design and specifications as the Sprint Palm Centro, but unfortunately lacks a 3G radio. It is a quad-band GSM device with support for the EDGE data network. The first model available is the Glacier white model with green highlights with an Obsidian black model becoming available in about a month. The device is available today starting at US$99.99 with 2-year service agreement and for those looking to move from a feature phone to a smartphone I think this is a decent choice available at a good price.


 Image Gallery: The Palm Centro from AT&T is now available in Glacier white.  
Image Gallery: Retail packaging
 
Image Gallery: AT&T Palm Centro width=
 

Hardware: The AT&T Palm Centro runs Palm OS 5.4.9 from ACCESS with an Intel PXA270 312MHz processor, 64MB RAM, 320x320 high resolution touch screen display, Bluetooth 1.2 radio, 1.3 megapixel camera, microSD expansion card slot, and 1150 mAh battery. I actually like the white color and green highlights (for the number keys and Fn button) since it isn't a stark, bright white, but a pearl white color. The Centro has a nice compact form factor that feels good in your hand and I find the keyboard quite easy to use. The application buttons allow you to quickly jump to your favorite applications and you can customize three of the buttons to your liking. You can also select what application to launch with a press and hold of the Push To Talk button on the side.

Palm and AT&T said they only included an EDGE radio because EDGE has extensive coverage in the U.S. While this may satisfy the group of new first-time smartphone owners (which really is the target audience), I still don't understand why they couldn't have included a 3G radio just like they did with the Sprint Centro at the same cost. If they would have, then those of us within range of AT&T's 3G network (which is most all of the metropolitan areas of the U.S.) could have taken advantage of the higher speeds and then when you are out of range it could drop to EDGE. Making a 2-year commitment to a device without 3G today in the U.S. doesn't make much sense, unless you are buying a T-Mobile device where they do not have 3G yet.

Software: Similar to what was found on the Palm Centro from Sprint, you get Documents to Go 10, Pocket Tunes 4.04, and all of the standard Palm OS applications and utilities. The Palm OS flies on a 312 MHz processor and new smartphone owners won`t be disappointed. You can also download and install Astraware Sudoku, Astraware Solitaire, Palm Files, and Vox Mobile applications for free by selecting the My Centro shortcut and the Bonus tab. Push To Talk (another subscription service), an Instant Messenger client (AIM, Yahoo!, and MSN Messenger), the Xpress Mail client, and a Voice Dialing application from VoiceSignal 2.0 are also included on the device. The AT&T Mall shortcut lets you shop for ringtones, graphics, and multimedia content.

AT&T also customizes the device for their service offerings and includes links to 3-day trials of MobiTV (US$9.99/month), MusicID (US$3.99/month), TeleNav (US$9.99/month), and XM Radio (US$8.99/month). Subscribing to all of these would add a considerable cost to your monthly bill where you will already be paying for voice and data service. MobiTV and XM Radio actually played fairly well on the device, given that it only connects to the EDGE data network. The AT&T Music shortcut lets you access Pocket Tunes, shop for music, launch MusicID and launch XM Radio from a single page.

Pricing and Availability: The Palm Centro from AT&T is available at all AT&T retail stores and online at www.att.com and www.palm.com/centro for $99.99 after a two-year service agreement and a mail-in rebate. Unlimited e-mail and data access is available for $30 a month with AT&T’s PDA Personal data package with a corresponding voice plan. Messaging packages are available beginning at $5 for 200 text, picture, video or instant messages. Unlimited messaging is available for $20 for individual plans and $30 for FamilyTalk plans.

Conclusions: I stated in my Sprint Palm Centro review that I would probably pick up this device when the GSM version became available and may still buy one to use with my current AT&T service as my token Palm OS device. The Palm Centro from AT&T would be a perfect device for my daughters (they LOVED playing with this review unit) and other people moving from a feature phone to a smartphone. If the device had 3G support, then it would be an easier decision for me to make and I was planning on it having this functionality since the Sprint version that was released a few months ago had this support.

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