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Palm Centro: Hands-on with the mini Treo 500

No you're not imagining things, this looks a lot like the Palm Treo 500 but it isn't, it's the Palm Centro -- the 500's smaller sibling

Last week Palm launched the Palm Centro in the UK and you'll have to forgive us for mistaking it for the Treo 500 when we first saw it online. But today it dropped on to our Crave-branded doormat and we realised just how much smaller this little piggy is.

Size, we're assured, isn't everything and while our first impressions involved the phrase "aww, isn't it ickle", we quickly realised that making a tiddly Treo 500 doesn't immediately equal a consumer-friendly product.

Palm tried in vain to convince us that this is aimed at the youth market, which in all fairness has worked in the US. But we Brits are a tough crowd to please and when we looked at the specs, we weren't exactly bowled over.

There's only a 1.3-megapixel camera, without LED photo light or flash. Fail. There's an MP3 player and expandable microSD slot, but no built-in 3.5mm headphone jack or stereo Bluetooth. Fail. The Centro's titchy Qwerty keypad isn't awful, but it's harder to type with than bigger Palms. More fail. It doesn't even have Java pre-instaled on it, so you can't install apps such as Google's mobile Gmail. On an email device, that's epic fail.

It's not all bad, mind. We like the Palm OS and think it's easy to get the hang of, but that doesn't mean this will do well with the kids. Palm veterans who want a smaller device would be the natural fit for the Centro, because on the consumer front the features are lacklustre.

The Palm Centro is available now from the Palm Store for £199 and will be available for free on a monthly contract some time soon. Expect a full review soon. -Andrew Lim

Update: In response to comments below, we used the Gmail app as an example of a Java app. As you can read on Palm's blog, the IBM WebSphere Micro Environment Java Virtual Machine (JVM) is no longer available on Palm devices. It is true that you can access Gmail via Versamail, but we think it's a real shame that you can't download the Java app instead.

Update: Read our full Palm Centro review