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Centro Intro Pt 10: Setting Up Email

Mon Jun 16, 2008 - 12:42 PM EDT - By Jay Gross


People often tout the benefits of Centros and other smartphones in a single word: “email.” On the go or not, Centro sends and receives email, even with attachments, and it does the job just as well in some respects as a “regular” computer. Setting it up can be a challenge for novice users, though, so we’re off to Jay’s Explanatorium for a tutorial on getting your email in places other than your desk or office.

An up-front feature of this on-going series is that we recap in a single paragraph what we’ve covered to date. Here goes:

  • We met the Centro in Part 1,
  • Shopped energetically in Part 2,
  • Dialed diligently in Part 3,
  • HotSynced happily in Part 4,
  • Played music mightily in Part 5,
  • Established some “General” Preferences in Part 6, cozily, and
  • Set up Bluetooth, infrared, and networking in Part 7. Whew!
  • Our Part 8 adventure personalized the Centro’s buttons and display.
  • Part 9 explored quick dial buttons, better known as “Favorites,” and set them up. And here we are, staring Part 10 in the face, getting ready to attack email send and receive.

Beginning with Part 4 in the series, AT&T’s Centros complicated a number of issues. Those models are different from Sprint’s Centros, especially in their Phone application. My Centro is of the Sprint ilk, and I don’t have an AT&T model of my own to compare, but as we go along, I’ll try to point out any differences that I know about. Meanwhile, don’t let it bother you too much if my screenshots don’t exactly match yours. Extrapolate as needed.

Caveat time

A word of caution before we start. All email comes in or goes out over your cell phone carrier’s “data” network, not the normal voice network. If you’re not on an unlimited “data plan,” you’ll incur expensive per-byte charges, and you might have to mortgage your cat to pay the bill. Data service is different from text messaging, but it encompasses “multimedia” texting. Check with your carrier if you really want to get confused, but the simple explanation is: buy an unlimited data plan if you plan to do much email, remembering to count both directions - inbound and out. Sprint’s is $35 a month, give or take.

Besides email, an unlimited data plan lets you access the internet as much as you like. Nice. In my experience, as evidenced by two of my recent Sprint bills - on which a billing error stated the non-unlimited rates – there are really only two choices for data plans: unlimited, or none. All are overpriced, but that’s a topic for another time.

Gather some delectable comestibles, pour yourself a cup of strong java, fire up your Centro, and let’s begin. Our first stop: housekeeping. Remember from Part 7 that we observed, with trepidation, some system parameters by which the Centro accesses whatever data network you’re on. If you didn’t set that up, do it now or none of this will work. Actually, I strongly recommend having your carrier set it up for you – they shouldn’t charge anything, just the monthly fee. It’s too confusing for mere customers to have to deal with.

Here’s a super-quick run-through:

  • Get the Prefs app running. (Tapp the “Prefs” icon in the Applications screen).
  • Tap “Network” about middle ways of the screen under the heading “Communications.”
  • If your network is working, the “Services” menu at the top of the resulting screen will offer it as an option. If it’s not, or if it whines about not being set up, see Part 7 in this series and do battle with your carrier until it works.

The Email account

Network working? Delectables replenished? The next step is to set up the email account itself.

  • Press the Home button to land at the Apps screen.

  • Tap the Email icon. You might have to scroll down a screenful to find it – see the (tiny!) scrollbar on the righthand side. This is the Centro’s email application’s opening screen. If you have messages in your Inbox, the default, they’ll be displayed here. Here’s what mine looks like – I already have one email account set up, and to test it I sent myself an email, which appears here.

  • I’ll assume that you have no email account set up, yet, so your version of this screen will be blank. We’ll add an account first. Tap the topmost area of the screen or press the Menu key (bottom row, far right) to make the pulldown menus appear.

The Accounts pulldown offers a list of existing email accounts, in addition to the Account Setup option. With no email accounts, yet, only the Accounts Setup option will appear; the rest of the screen will be blank.

  • Tap Account Setup to create a new email account. You can do this even if you’ve already set up one or more, and define another one, two or more. There’s a probably some limit, if only common sense, so don’t get carried away.

  • The next thing you see is the Account Setup screen. Enter your correct email address on the line and supply the correct password. Keyword: correct. Remember, the email address and password you type must be exact, including capital letters, numbers, and punctuation. You’ll find this information in your desktop (laptop?) computer’s email program. In Outlook Express, pull down the Tools menu and select “Accounts” or get it from the email provider where your email is hosted.

One more caveat. Lately, users have been reporting problems with using Gmail accounts with their Centros. If you’re having trouble with Gmail, check the TreoCentral forums for guidance and current information on this problem.

To type the “at” sign on the Centro, press the Option key (second row from bottom, far left – it has a solid square on it) once and then the “I” key. There’s no need to hold the Option key down while you press “I”.

If you need numbers and punctuation, you can get them in a similar manner. Option letter key. If you need a bunch of numbers in a row, press Option twice, and everything you type after that will be in numbers (or punctuation) until you press Option again (or till the feature times out).

Capital letters, in case your password requires them, work similarly, too. Press the Shift key (Bottom row, left side) and then whatever letter you want capitalized. The keyboard stays “shifted” only a few seconds, so if you dilly dally too long, you might have to refresh the shift. Two presses on the Shift key puts the Centro into the electronic equivalent of caps-lock mode till you press Shift again (or timeout happens). You can move the cursor within the entries by pressing Left or Right on the 5-way Navigator.

  • Tap Next, at the bottom of the screen, when you’re done. If this doesn’t work, you typed something wrong, perhaps omitted a capital or inserted an unwelcome space, or got the punctuation wrong. Keep trying.

In all of the following entries, be sure to type the information exactly without leading or trailing spaces. It matters.

  • Select the type of email account you have. The default is “POP,” and that’s probably right, anyway. This information comes from your email service provider, affectionately (?) known by the acronym “ISP.”
  • Provide the info for Incoming Mail Server. This is also determined by your ISP. If you’ve set this up on a desktop or laptop computer, it’ll be the same as what works there. All of this will. Don’t bother trying the one in my screenshots. I faked it.
  • Fill in the name of your Outgoing Mail Server.
  • Tap Test Settings. This button instigates an electronic conversation over the carrier’s data network, checking the Servers you’ve defined and the accounts you’ve specified. If all – and I do mean all - is well, you get a jubilant message. If not, an error message appears. Your Centro’s email account will not work till the Test Settings button jubilates. Hallucinations don’t count.

One reason this might fail is that your ISP might want some portion of the Advanced Settings specified. Tap Advanced Settings to inspect. There are two screens of Advanced Settings to confuse you. If you don’t need these, leave the defaults alone. And breathe a relieved sigh.

  • Tap Done when you’re done, but you are not done until the Test Settings success message lights up your Centro’s screen. And your day.

The result of all this is an entry in the Account Setup screen. Tap New to add more accounts if you want. If something changes for an account, you can make adjustments by tapping Edit.

  • Tap OK.

We’re back to the Email screen. With all this effort, it now has one or more accounts listed. Send yourself an email from some other account or machine, and send one out from your Centro.

  • Tap Get to refresh the display with any new emails that have arrived.
  • Tap New to send a new message.
  • Fill in the blanks appropriately and add some content.
  • Tap Send at the bottom of the screen.

The Centro’s email application is also known as Versa Mail. It’s not the only one available, but it comes with the device. The others each have their devotees, and they all have their detractors.

We’ll explore more options and features of Centro’s email in another installment. Promise.


With massive money moving out every month for unlimited data service, we’ve set up and operated the Centro’s email application. If you have burning questions, Centro or not, email the author, and nominate them for a trip to Jay’s Explanatorium. Like everything else, email boasts many personalizable settings, but we’ll hold those for another installment in the series. Next time, next topic!

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