The Palm Centro:

True to its name, the Palm Centro fits literally in the palm of your hand and is one of the most compact, accessible smart phones available this season.

Even the least tech-savvy people among us should be able to find their way around this phone.

At just 4.2 ounces, the Centro is much lighter than its cousins in the Treo 700 series and is quite easy to tote around in your pocket. It's also available in two new appealing colors -- Vibrant Rose and Olive Green.

Its 320-by-320 square touch screen displays an easy to navigate and clearly labeled menu of options.

If you want to use the camera function, you merely tap on the camera icon and you're already halfway to a 1.3 megapixel photo.

It doesn't just stop here.

You can easily upload these pictures to an online album or conveniently e-mail them through the Picture Mail function. The image is surprisingly clear, capturing every detail of a whalelike cloud or a knobby tree.

If you happen upon some amazing phenomenon, the Palm Centro equips you with a quality video camera to capture the moment.

The device also comes with Documents to Go, one of the easiest ways to read Microsoft Office files.

It allows you to create and save documents and PowerPoint files but falters in processing Excel spreadsheets. For those who would rather sync the Centro with a computer and leave the laptop at home, this is one of its few drawbacks.

The phone also lets you instant message on the road, so you stay in touch with friends 24/7, and it supports Google Maps to help you along on your road trip.

For those who cherish music on the go, the Pocket Tunes music player lets you stream Internet radio and listen to purchased MP3, AAC and WMA songs. It also comes with Sprint TV that has numerous channels for watching music videos and TV shows.

All the benefits that come with the phone are undeniably useful. But your relationship with the phone might sour after too many bad experiences connecting to the Internet and checking your e-mail.

Those of you who are deeply attached to your inbox will find an understanding companion in this device. However, it dillydallies a bit, and you might lose patience.

Also, when you venture to a Web site it feels a little slow, which isn't necessarily the fault of the phone but the network (the phone is available through Verizon, AT&T and Sprint).

Once you're on the Web, typing with the Qwerty keyboard is not much easier.

Because the keys are placed side by side with very little space in-between, you start feeling as if you have abnormally fat fingers. Don't worry -- it's not you, it's the phone.

All in all, if you're looking for an affordable smart phone that won't bore you, then get yourself a Palm.

Disappointingly, it has a shorter talking time of 3.5 hours, which is one hour less than the life of the Treo 700. But if you remember to charge your phone nightly, then the Palm is a good addition to your accessories.

For people who spend some time away from home, this surprisingly affordable smart phone (49.99 after mail-in rebate with an AT&T service agreement) is worth every cent and could be one of the most useful gifts you can give this year.

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