Music and TV

The Palm Centro comes with the Deluxe version of the PTunes music player, a nice addition. The preinstalled music sounded surprisingly robust through the device's rear speaker, but you have to be careful not to block the speaker by placing the phone on a desk with the display face up.

You also get Sprint's Music Manager software, which made transferring tunes easy. You'll need an expansion card if you want to play a lot of music, however, because the device comes with just 65MB of memory available to users - and you'll want to reserve some of that for applications.

The Palm Centro's unimpressive 1.3Mp camera captures images at either at 1X or 2X digital zoom, and it can record a short amount of video. Image quality was adequate but nothing special, and Palm doesn't provide the image-editing tools that some phones with cameras now include.

Other apps

The Palm Centro comes with several other useful applications, including the excellent Palm client for Google Maps and DataViz's Documents to Go for at least basic editing of Microsoft Office applications. And we were a fan of the bundled Astraware Sudoku game before my Centro ever saw the light of day.

OUR VERDICT

When Palm showed us a preproduction Centro last month, we were impressed by what we saw. The production unit largely lives up to that promise. It's not the most beautifully crafted mobile phone available, but it's a good-looking contemporary handset looks - unlike the Treo, we're sorry to say. And the low price certainly helps - although we've yet to see what will happen in the UK. So while we're waiting for a device that will support our legacy Palm apps and also provide the extras that state-of-the-art devices on a competing platform offer, the Palm Centro may turn out to be a satisfactory stopgap.