Palm Debuts Inexpensive Centro Smartphone

Palm Debuts Inexpensive Centro Smartphone

Palm has formally announced its new Centro, an affordable new smartphone design aimed at consumers and everyday people who need to organize and manage their lives. Unlike the Treo series, which has traditionally leaned toward business and corporate users, the Centro aims to tap into consumer culture by enabling users to keep up with friends and family through text messaging and email, browse the Web, and access Internet content, all from one device. And it will be available in ruby red or onyx black in mid-October for $99.99, and for its first 90 days it will be exclusive to Sprint.

“Palm Centro has the power of a broadband smartphone at the price of a standard 12-key phone,” said Palm president and CEO Ed Colligan, in a statement. “People looking to have all their contacts and calendar at the touch of a button, plus YouTube streaming videos and the Internet can now get it in a small, cool design with the trademark Palm ease of use.”

Build on the Palm OS 5.4.9 rather than Windows Mobile, the Centro offers a 320 by 320 pixel color touchscreen, a QWERTY keyboard, 64 MB of user storage (expandable with microSD cards), speakerphone, Bluetooth, and a 1.3 megapixel video-capable camera. The phone operates on Sprint’s dual-band CDMA2000/EVDO network, and offers up to 3.5 hours of talk time and 300 hours of standby on a single battery charge. The phone requires Windows XP/Vista or Mac OS X 10.2 or higher.

The Centro can tie into Microsoft Direct Push Technology for Outlook email, as well as pull in personal email from sources like Gmail, AOL, and Yahoo. The Centro supports AIM, MSN, and Yahoo instant messaging, comes with a built-in Google Maps application, and supports live Web browsing via Sprint’s broadband network. Users can also side-like media and music onto the Centro using Sprint’s Music Manager application, and of course the phone supports a raft of Sprint services, including Sprint TV, On Demand, Picture Mail, and Sprint Mobile Email.

The Centro would undoubtedly be more compelling with integrated Wi-Fi, but although th phone will carry a $400 list price, the $99 price through Sprint (with a two year service agreement) may appeal strongly to both consumers and serious mobile users.

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