Palm Centro Isn't a Tough Choice Editorial
Another article has appeared to reinforce the Palm Centro's strong initial showing amongst members of the press and the mainstream media outlets. Matthew Miller of ZDnet's "The Mobile Gadgeteer" blog, has posted a new review/opinion piece entitled "The Palm Centro; at $99.99 it really isn’t a hard choice”.
This ZDnet review essentially reinforces Palm’s claim that the Palm Centro is the perfect candidate to convert featurephone owners into new smartphone users. Palm's new entry-level Centro is winning praise left and right with many similar articles written by non-smartphone users or former Treo owners that are returning to the platform due to the Centro's affordability and size.
In what may be mere speculation, the final paragraph contains a tidbit about a forthcoming GSM Centro: "As soon as a GSM version is available, I will most likely buy one for my Palm OS device…" Previous rumors suggested that a GSM-based, Palm OS Centro (perhaps with a Treo moniker) will be available in early 2008, quite possibly on the AT&T and Orange networks, once Sprint’s period of exclusivity with the current Centro expires.
The ZDnet article goes on to conclude on a series of extraordinarily, nearly unbelievably positive notes. Mr. Miller proclaims that the Centro is "..the best Palm OS device that has been released in a few years and has all the specs you will find on the larger Treos…" (Emphasis added is mine, not the author’s). Any long-time Treo user will immediately notice that the Centro makes several compromises in the areas of screen size, keyboard size/layout, battery capacity and memory card format. Palm's Windows Mobile-powered Treos, also pack considerably more multimedia prowess over the Centro, such as A2DP, improved Bluetooth and camera quality (especially in the Treo 500v), and Wi-Fi capability via SDIO cards. For certain power users, these factors could be potential deal-breakers when considering a Centro purchase and to leave them unmentioned is unacceptable, especially in a review by a supposed long-term user of the Palm OS. The ZDnet review unfortunately glosses over nearly all of the Centro's shortcomings aside from its keyboard size. It would be helpful if Mr. Miller had at least made a clear distinction between Palm OS Garnet-based smartphones and Palm’s Windows Mobile-based offerings.
Mr. Miller touts the device’s attractive-sounding $99.99 price several times but unfortunately does not go into detail about the myriad of steps required to achieve this effective final price. He also fails to mention the fact that Sprint’s mail-in-rebate is slated to expire on November 2nd as well as the fact that a minimum level of monthly data services must be maintained in order to qualify for the rebate (which may runs the risk of never being fulfilled). Nowhere within the article is the Centro’s full retail price of $399.99 mentioned.
Finally, for Mr. Miller to call the Palm Z22 "lame" at the equivalent price point of $99.99 is a gross exaggeration and quite an unfair comparison. Even entry-level smartphones target a drastically different market than do entry-level, retail-oriented PDAs. Palm's own website and marketing materials all indicates different target audiences and user bases. Even if the Centro were available for a $99.99 "out the door" retail price with no rebates, the required monthly services even under the fabled SERO plan would quickly push the device’s cost over a two-year period well in the neighborhood of $1000. A simple basic PDA like the Z22 is an unconnected device, and maintains full functionality past the point of initial acquisition without any additional monthly service charges.