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A Centro Competitor?

Thu Jan 17, 2008 - 12:54 PM EST - By Jennifer Chappell


I read an interesting article over at mytreo.net yesterday. The article was about the Sony mylo COM-2, which was designed to compete with the Palm Centro in the youth market. I think that it's also competing pretty strongly against the Nokia N810, which I've got my eye on and have been drooling over lately.

Sony was showing the latest mylo, the mylo COM-2, at CES last week and it looks nice. I remember reading about the first Mylo awhile back but it fell off my radar as other new gadgets caught my eye. And of course I naturally tend to keep up with Treos more anyway as part of my job.

I can see how both these devices would appeal to the youth market. Both the Centro and the mylo come in different colors, the mylo COM-2 in black or white, and the Centro in black, red, and now pink.

Both devices have nice backlit QWERTY keyboards, the COM-2's slides out, and both also have Instant Messaging capabilities with AOL and Yahoo! And you can email your family and friends with both devices. Young people do lots of texting for sure. I was getting my driver's license renewed last week and there were several teenagers there waiting to get their license, and most of them had cell phones and were texting to someone. We live in a mobile world today. I had to smile when I saw the little girl sitting next to me, who looked to be about eight, pull a pink Nintendo DS Lite from her little handbag and begin to play a game. The young girl sitting in front of me, who was with her mother, kept receiving text messages as I could hear the vibrating sound, and she'd get her phone from her purse each time the phone vibrated and text the other person back.

The mylo and the Centro both have a 1.3 megapixel camera which is okay for some quick shots on the go. You can take pictures with both devices and send them to friends. The COM-2 has the ability to edit the photos on a built in photo editor and you can upload and download the pics directly to your blog or Facebook page.

Also popular with today's youth market and adult market too is the ability to play MP3s. Both the Centro and the COM-2 can play music and videos.

The Centro and the COM-2 run on two different operating systems, the Centro on the Palm OS and the COM-2 on the Qtopia Linux. Qtopia Linux is an embedded Linux and is designed for devices with relatively limited resources, such as smaller sizes of RAM and much more limited secondary storage.

Another area in which the two devices differ is Wi-Fi. The COM-2 has built-in Wi-Fi and of course we all know that the Centro does not. So the COM-2 is able to browse the internet via Wi-Fi while the Centro depends on a cellular radio. The COM-2 has no cellular antenna so a plus there is that no service contract is necessary to buy and use the device. COM-2 owners can talk to family and friends via Skype.

The Centro and COM-2 have different sized screens. The Centro has a 320x320 color touchscreen and the COM-2 has a 3.5-inch 800-by-480-pixel color touch screen. I gotta say that is a sweet looking screen on the COM-2! And I do feel a bit of drool starting to build up.

The COM-2 has widgets which is pretty slick. There is a Google search widget, Facebook, YouTube, and MyContacts widget. Sony will soon be announcing that they'll have a developer's website so that developers can get the tools that they need to develop widgets for Mylo.

Yep, the COM-2 looks nice indeed. But I'll stick with my Treo 680 and I wouldn't choose the COM-2 over a Centro if I were in the market for a new device. For one thing, even though the COM-2 does have the built-in Wi-Fi, you aren't going to get online with it unless you're at home where your Wi-Fi access point is, or somewhere near a Wi-Fi hotspot. With my Treo or with your Centro, we can get online via the data connection. Of course we do have to be in an area where we can pick up a signal. I can always get a signal on my Treo unless I'm driving deep into the mountains. Also, I'd take the small form factor of the Centro rather than a big slab, although the slab is a piece of eye candy.

I think that people can stay better organized with the Centro since it comes with the built-in PIM. The COM-2 doesn't even have a calendar. I've read in COM-2 reviews about problems with Web browsing due to lack of RAM. Sascha Segan of PC Magazine said:

I had some serious problems with Web browsing because the Mylo kept running out of RAM. The Web browser displays pages well, in desktop-like format, and you can zoom to various levels. (At the default zoom, text is readable only if you have extra-sharp eyes.) But scrolling through pages was slow and jerky. Sony claims the browser also supports Flash and scripting. But when I tried to go to YouTube or a very busy MySpace page, or even just browsed for too long at one time, I was faced with several out-of-memory errors. The Mylo's 23MB of available RAM just doesn't seem to be enough to handle both complex Web pages and IM clients at the same time. Even with the IM clients disabled, YouTube videos were jerky, and I never managed to find enough memory to view that MySpace page.

Mark Spoonauer from LAPTOP Magazine stated:

We encountered a running-low-on-memory message when Yahoo Instant Messenger and Skype were open while trying to load a Web page. ThatÂ’s not a lot of apps, and it happened on other occasions as well. This one weakness could be a deal-breaker for the 18-to-22 college crowd Sony is targeting.

The COM-2's price is $299 and the Centro retails at $99, $399 before rebates.

mytreo.net spoke with Sony's Product Manager for Mylo, Philip Boyle, while at CES. Boyle is responsible for marketing Mylo in the United States, and is involved with Sony's technical team in conceiving the COM-2's specs. You can watch the video of the interview here.

Hey, I'm not putting down the new Mylo; just writing about what I've read. I think the COM-2 looks pretty good and I'd be thrilled to get my hands on one and give it a whirl. I love all gadgets! I guess I'll have to keep my eyes open and see how many COM-2 users I notice compared to Centro users.

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