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11 June 2009

Product Review: Palm Pre

Thanks to for imageCall me an idiot. I stood in line for an hour to get my hands on the Palm Pre. After 6 long months of online research I finally got to hold one in my hands...

It's hard to believe I've only had it for 5 days. It was so easy to learn and so fun to use that it seems like I've had it for months.

Now, the fun part - getting to review it.

Stood in line for an hour with up to 15 people. 10 phones available at my Sprint store. I was number 2 in line. In and out in 30 minutes even with a slight wait for the activation to register on the phone. Total cost: Approx. $300 with a $100 rebate certificate.

The Pre has to be the most comfortable and ergonomic phone out there. Palm said it was designed to look like a river stone and it comes close. The buttons are well designed and are only there because they have to be. Very clean look and nothing to get snagged on a pocket. Love the ringer switch on the top (to easily turn off all sounds). Incredible 320x480 touch screen with crisp images and excellent response to light touch. Gesture area rocks - making basic navigation a snap. The keyboard is a bit tight (especially the top row) but I've been surprised how quickly I got used to it. Definitely better than the "highly negative" articles I read about it prior to launch. Camera is amazing. Pictures are so good you assume they came from a small digital camera and not a phone. Sliding mechanism works adequately.

Palm has done an amazing job on WebOS. It is a highly organized system of Apps that open full screen but then shrink down into a card view. Each App lives in a card and can be sorted, opened or closed as needed. This makes jumping from an email to a text to copy/paste and then back to the email a snap. I've noticed no lag time with up to 10 cards open at one time but I haven't pushed it farther than that - nor would I typically ever use more than 5 at a time.

Palm makes it possible to merge multiple email accounts, calendars and contact lists together. I'm currently hooked up to an exchange server (EAS) so all of my stuff was pulled down onto the phone. I have a Facebook account but haven't attempted to pull in the contacts from there.

Works like a charm. Connect one time - auto connect the next time you're there.

Universal Search
Just start typing. WebOS looks for matches in contacts and Apps, then if it runs out of matches it switches to the web and offers searches by Google, Wikipedia and Twitter. Very smooth...

Sounds good to me...I don't use it as a phone. With all the communication avenues out there, why would I want to talk to someone :)

App Catalog
Currently small, but as long as I have a Twitter client I'm good for right now. I'm sure the Fart App will be available at some point...


Over The Air updating of WebOS - amazingly quick and simple. Use WiFi and it works until it's done. Use the PCS network and it downloads a bit at a time while idle.

Wireless charging is amazing - why don't all phones charge this way? When you buy the Touchstone it comes with a new (less glossy) back cover for the phone. I like this cover a lot.

Sprint Specific
Amazing plans and Apps like Sprint TV and Sprint Navigation with turn-by-turn directions.

There are things that Palm either overlooked or just didn't have the time and money to finish before launch. Here's my list:

  • The door covering the charging port doesn't match the overall excellence of the device.
  • The phone is VERY slippery - making it difficult to slide open at times. I fixed this by purchasing the Touchstone charging device. The new back cover is somewhat rubbery which makes it less likely that it will slide out of your hand.
  • Make a screen capture easier. Three buttons at one time? Seriously.
  • No visual voicemail.
  • Doesn't sync with Zune Marketplace.
  • Doesn't capture video.
  • I lost Windows Live Search (I actually used that App a lot on my MotoQ).
  • Universal search doesn't search everything (like emails).
  • No good way to protect the phone. Based on the style of the phone (slider) there really is no way to protect it outside of a case. It is what it is...
  • Fingerprints. Again, it is what it is...
  • I'm sure there are more...
This phone blows me away - which says a lot since I was able to come up with that many misses. I think it's the fact that it's innovative (WebOS), simple to use, simple to design for (Apps can be developed with html, css and javascript), beautifully scripted (UI) and yet a workhorse (multiple applications running at the same time).

Palm took the extra time to come up with a very well appointed and precise instrument. Small things like the way notifications slide up from the bottom (without impairing your view of the current App) and the small icon below your text when you select the shift or function keys. Simple things that make the user experience that much better.

I am VERY happy with the original state of the phone. And I'm VERY optimistic that with OTA updates, many of the misses I identified will probably disappear in the next 6-12 months.

I would highly recommend you take a closer look before making an impulse buy.

If this just wasn't enough for you visit the Engadget Article written by Joshua Topolsky.