I have been eyeing the Palm Centro since it came out but was only recently able to put hands on a review unit. But before I get into reviewing it, I feel I should warn you of two things: 1) I like Palms. I have been using one version or another since the original PalmPilot came out a little over a decade ago. And (2) I am not a convert to smart phones—though they appeal to me. In fact, I have yet to see a smart phone I could live with so I eschew them in favor of a Motorola Razr and a Palm T|X. My Razr handles my phone calls, alerts, and text messages. And my T|X keeps me on top of email, Web browsing, my calendar, keeping track of my family’s health information, my diet, my menstrual cycle, recipes, and my massive to-do list. It may not be the smallest portable organization system available but each device does it’s own job very well with little compromise and I’m happy with the arrangement.

CentroThe thing is, a smart phone (like the Centro, Treo, or Blackberry—even the iPhone) has to make a lot of compromises to pack a keyboard, phone, and screen into a device small enough that people will bring it everywhere. (I don’t feel the need to always have my Palm T|X with me though I never leave my Razr behind—even if I’m going running.)

But that little Centro has been tempting me. It runs the Palm operating system—so I would be able to use all the little Palm applications I’m addicted to on my T|X, looks more like a Palm than a phone, and comes in cute colors. (And you know how I feel about that—the T|X is black and I can’t even find a cute case for it.) Every time I see an ad for the Centro, I feel a little tug toward it. This might be the one.

So I was pretty excited when my review unit arrived. I didn’t get a red one, unfortunately: But it was still pretty darn cute. It also does a nice job of fitting a keyboard on a tiny device. At first glance, that keyboard looked too small to be of use but within five minutes, I was typing rather well on it. It has a decent little camera—as good as the one on my Razr. I can sync all the lists, addresses, and whatnot that I keep on my comptuer with it just as I do with my T|X. And it’s not very expensive. Still, it’s not for me.

If my mother was busier and needed such a thing, it would make a great Mother’s Day gift for her. It would certainly be a great gift for a younger Mom who wants to stay in touch with friends and keep her life together on the go. And I’m considering getting one for my very disorganized middle-schooler. 

But I’m sticking with what I have. My current rig allows me to use a W-Fi connection (which is often free and always fast) to download email, sync my calendar, and surf the Web (on my T|X) and switching to the Centro would mean moving all that to the cellular network, which I know to be both expensive and slow.

If you are in the market, though for both a cell phone and an improvement on your current organization system, this little Centro, and it’s very attactive pricing—about $300 less than the iPhone when I looked—through Sprint and AT&T, might be just the thing.