Palm Inc.'s Cento phone/personal information manager/media player, $99
with a two-year Sprint service agreement, isn't the ultimate answer to
Apple Inc.'s IPhone ($399 plus service), but it's a nifty alternative.
The Westinghouse L2410NM LCD computer monitor, $429 list but $80 lower
at online retailer NewEgg.com, isn't the ultimate LCD monitor, but
it's pretty darned close.
The common theme of these two disparate items is price: the prices you
can find for each are great, given the value received.
Let's start with the Palm Cento. Palm has been taking its licks from
the IPhone and a raft of other competitors, including Research In
Motion's BlackBerry range of products. The Cento swings back
with a color screen, built-in 1.3 Megapixel camera/camcorder, a full
keyboard, Sprint's broadband data and video services, Bluetooth
connectivity - and all this in a tiny package that rivals the
BlackBerry Pearl in overall size. The Cento is a bit thicker, which is
a good thing.
In performance, it's a great phone, if you like Sprint's service,
which some do and others don't. I used Sprint in Washington and in New
York City, without hassle. If Sprint's network isn't your cup of tea,
you may have to wait until early next year. That's when Sprint's
official, three-month exclusive lead, expires, and there are rumors of
a GSM version coming out at that time, perhaps for use on AT&T's
wireless network. A GSM phone would have the option of working
overseas, which Sprint's CDMA-based device doesn't do in many other
I very much enjoyed having the small size of the Cento, its wide range
of capabilities and especially Sprint's range of broadband video and
music content, including several TV services, such as Fox News, and
numerous Sirius Satellite Radio channels. Those features cost extra
and could add to your monthly bill, but they also provide a nice
escape while traveling.
Overall, the Cento is a great device that puts Palm back in the mobile
device game. But as a GSM user myself, I can only cast a longing eye
towards the future.
That future is here for me, however, with the Westinghouse L2410NM
LCD. Retail prices for this product are all over the lot, but the
post-mail-in-rebate $349 from NewEgg.com is the best I've seen.
The monitor is great: right now, I'm staring at it during most of my
eight-hour office day. Not only are the colors vivid, the monitor is
easy to handle, and I've had no performance problems, other than a
non-working electrical outlet shutting things down. Moving the power
cord to another outlet solved that problem.
The monitor can work with VGA, HDMI or component video inputs, meaning
you could, conceivably, hook up a Sony PlayStation 3, a Windows PC and
a digital cable tuner all at once, switching among the inputs using a
button on the side of the monitor. Other controls include a power
switch, volume adjustments and controls for the built-in feature menu.
There are built-in speakers, as well.
After unpacking the monitor and connecting it to the desired devices,
however, there's not much need for adjusting. In my test, it picked up
a notebook computer's signal quite well, once I adjusted the
portable's settings to utilize the monitor, as I would with any
Needless to say, there are far more expensive 24-inch LCD monitor
models: an NEC monitor I viewed at NewEgg, for example, was more than
triple the Westinghouse unit's price. But for most of us, the
Westinghouse should do just fine. I'm happy to recommend it; find more
details at www.westinghousedigital.com.