Smart phones are all the rage today. The iPhone from Apple, the Blackjack from Samsung and any Blackberry device are all popular commodities. Palm has been a hit or miss company, with some notable successes and some not so notable offerings as well. The new Palm Centro from AT&T promises the best of all worlds - including satellite radio.
The Palm Centro is a sleek smart phone with a touch screen, a full QWERTY keyboard and, get this, XM radio built in. There are also several other options available on the Palm Centro that are exclusive to AT&T. The full line up for features consists of a built in web browser called Blazer, 64MB of storage for the mp3 player (upgradable to 4GB with a card), and 25 channels of XM radio. While this is not a lot of channels (considering XM offers quite a few more than that!) it does offer portability and the ability to customize which channels you get.
You can listen to your favorite XM music, listen live sports games or check out talk radio shows right from the phone. While the phone is getting mixed reviews (the legacy of Palms’ less than stellar past offerings), the phone itself promises to compete competitively with many other smart phones currently available. The simple fact that it can double as a portable XM radio is a great feature. Combine that with its ability to stream Web TV shows, play mp3's and more and Palm might have a winning combination.
With satellite radio being widely accepted in today's automobile industry, it is no surprise that mobile technology is turning to incorporating music broadcasting. Over a year ago Apple and Sirius radio were in communications to include Sirius radio as an additional feature to the iPod. Although the partnership did not foster into reality at the time, the notion of consumer demand remained. We will no doubt see satellite radio become one of those features for phones much like camera, video and MP3 storage have in the past.
There are other phones in the works from other companies that promise more than this, but the Palm is the only one of its kind to debut thus far. That means consumers who want XM radio (or any satellite radio for that matter) have little (legal) choice but to use the Palm Centro.
Why hasn't the Centro garnered better reviews? Part of the problem lies in the fact that it only operates on AT&T's GSM network, which many consumers dislike for various reasons. Other reasons are the fact that the phone is at least $100, though with the relative price of the iPhone (which has no XM); it seems like a bargain basement price. There is a host of software options that come with the Centro, as well, making it a true smart phone, but only time will tell if it will make a splash in the market.
In the meantime, fans that want XM radio with them all the time, but don't want to deal with Palm products can get their hands on several XM radio products that offer the portability the desire. In the meantime, consumers that want a single device (phone, PDA and radio) will have to continue to wait. Maybe Sirius has something in the works that will offer a better platform than GSM? Alas, we'll simply have to wait and see what the media giants have in store for consumer, though with the quick appearance of the Palm, Sirius probably isn't far behind with their offering. We could argue that the days of portable satellite radio with mobile phone capabilities are not to far away.
Bob Maines is a satellite radio specialist with several years of experience selling and installing SIRIUS Radio.