Review: Palm Pixi Is Worthy Successor To Centro


The Palm Pixi offers good integration with Microsoft Exchange and ActiveSync, but is let down by the unit’s poor battery life and inconsistent performance

The Palm Pixi is a more-than-worthy successor to Palm’s previous low-end smartphone offerings, capably offering an enticing mix of features for consumers or enterprise users looking to move up from a more basic mobile phone. However, occasionally sluggish performance and weak battery life with automated data services engaged detract from the Pixi’s overall experience.

Palm created the Pixi to replace the old PalmOS-based Centro, positioning the Pixi as an affordable yet feature-packed upgrade for the low-end consumer market.

The Pixi is currently only available in the US for $400 (£245), although the price drops to $100 (£61.50) with a two-year Sprint network service contract. In addition, some outlets may offer the Pixi for as low as $25 (£15.40) to new Sprint customers.  A UK launch data has still not been set, but it is expected in early 2010.

A Smartphone For Business

Although not expressly intended for an enterprise audience, the Pixi and its WebOS operating system provide one of the better email with ActiveSync experiences available today from a non-Microsoft smartphone (especially at the Pixi’s price point). The Pixi could be worth consideration for companies looking to offer good mobile email and web capabilities to users previously provisioned with only a basic mobile phone.

The Pixi is among the smallest and lightest smartphones I’ve tested to date. Measuring in at a highly compact 2.2 by 4.4 by 0.4 inches and a very light 3.26 ounces, I found it easy to forget the Pixi was in my pocket. The small form factor has its tradeoffs, however, as the keyboard is pretty cramped. The hard, rubberised keys are raised enough, however, that it was easier to type on the keyboard than I expected.

The Pixi supports Sprint’s EVDO Rev A. network, which provided steady and reliable voice and data coverage – indoors and outdoors (even in heavily crowded locations like full football stadiums) – during my tests in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Unfortunately, the device does not come with a Wi-Fi radio. This was disappointing on its own, but even more so since WebOS showed good support for enterprise Wi-Fi security standards in my tests of the Palm Pre.

The Pixi comes with 8GB of on-board storage; it does not have a MicroSD slot to add additional capacity. 

The device does come with 2-megapixel camera with LED flash (still pictures only, no video), as well as a GPS receiver for location services. The device also has a speakerphone on the back, although I found that it sounded tinny, particularly when compared with heavier devices like HTC’s Touch Pro 2.

WebOS Operating System

I performed the bulk of my Pixi testing using WebOS version 1.3.1, although the device automatically upgraded itself to 1.3.2 near the end of my tests.

The Pixi made good use of the Palm Profile’s automated backup services: I was able to automatically reload all my email and IM accounts, calendars and contacts that I originally defined when I tested the Pre earlier in the year. (My accounts included a Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync account, a Google Apps account, Yahoo Mail and Facebook.)

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