Palm Pre Review
Review of the Sprint Palm Pre – Don’t Just Think Different But Think Very, Very Different
Over the coming days, weeks, months and quite possibly years you will likely see a rather heated and passionate debate between those who absolutely love the new Palm Pre and those who, well, don’t love it quite as much – particularly devoted iPhone, BlackBerry and Android fans.
I have to admit that I’m a man of many passions and I deeply respect those who have their own. Whether these passions overlap with mine or not is not relevant and I certainly will not disparage people who have chosen an iPhone, BlackBerry, Android or other device as their smartphone of choice – we’re all entitled to make mistakes…
Joking aside, as I have repeated many times before, every smartphone on the market today is the result of some carefully crafted compromises which delivers a particular solution that may or may not be quite right for you. No single smartphone today can claim to be the absolute best at everything and so you will end up making your choice based on those criteria that best satisfy your needs.
I am stating all this because, like its competitors, the Palm Pre is not (yet) perfect but I have nonetheless today personally made the rather exciting commitment to switch to this latest smartphone from Palm. This decision will in my opinion be as important, fun and special as the one I made when choosing the Treo 600 some five years ago – something which in hindsight proved to be one of the smartest moves I’ve made in my entire life…
If you’re reading this post I guess that I can safely assume that you’re seriously considering getting a Palm Pre of your own and will thus naturally be curious to know what criteria I have used to reach my decision and what you can expect to experience when you finally get one in your own hands.
For starters pretty much everything that I outlined in my original Top 10 Reasons to Love the Palm Pre Smartphone still holds true and forms the core of the attributes that have attracted me to the Pre:
- Multitouch Portrait Screen + Slide-Down Keyboard
- Superb Design, Size & Form-Factor
- Ultra Speed
- Best-In-Class Multitasking
- Built-In WiFi, GPS, 8GB Storage
- Intuitive & Beautiful User Interface
- Awesome Digital Life Integration
- 3.0 Megapixel Camera with Built-In LED Flash + Back Speaker
- 3.5mm Stereo Headphone Jack + Removable Battery
- Ambient Light, Accelerometer & Proximity Sensors
At the same time, for me at least, the Palm Pre has already proven to be so much more than just the sum of its features and specifications. The most important thing is that at long last the Palm Pre is a device that can truly inject a strong dose of passion into your digital life – one that touches your emotions as well as your intellect and lets you enjoy the entire process.
For example, while I can certainly appreciate some particular features of my iPhone, my BlackBerry Bold and even my Windows Mobile Treo Pro (I own all three) the fact now is nonetheless that it’s the rather unique overall package of the Palm Pre that has won me over.
From a hardware perspective, the combination of the organic pebble-like form-factor which feels great in both your hand or pocket, the large, solid and extremely crisp rotating portrait capacitive touchscreen, full physical slide-out QWERTY keyboard with its rubbery keys, high quality 3.0 megapixel camera with built-in LED flash as well as the removable battery plus the now standard WiFi, GPS, 8GB of storage and ringer switch place the Palm Pre at the very top of smartphone designs. If to all of this you add the truly innovative Touchstone wireless charger there’s no doubt that the Palm Pre is well ahead of even the iconic iPhone when it comes to hardware and design.
From a software perspective there are three distinct areas to look at. First there is the new webOS and its so-called “Synergy” which so far very much looks like a real winner – with it Palm finally has a robust, great looking, fluid, fun operating system on which to build a solid future and the fact that developers already love its simplicity further adds to both its potential and appeal. There are naturally things that can and must be improved – such as the lack of system sounds changes – but overall webOS delivers a more than worthy successor to the old beloved PalmOS.
Secondly we have the standard applications developed by Palm – probably the current weakest link. Here the company has built a good set of v1.0 solutions but it’s nonetheless the area that still needs the most attention in the immediate future. For example, while the browser is absolutely world-class and offers superb and ultra-fast rendering (many tests show a 4x speed improvement over competing browsers) other apps such as Calendar, Photos and eMail nonetheless clearly suffer from lack of speed optimization and/or usability in their first interation.
After many discussions with Palm about my poor speed/usability experiences with some of the standard applications I nonetheless came away reassured that not only is the company fully aware of the issues but also that 1) these can be fixed and 2) that, along with Sprint, it is committed to releasing quick and frequent updates to both individual apps as well as the entire webOS if and when required. The great thing with the Pre is that these updates will all be available over-the-air, free of charge and pain-free at the press of just one button – you really can’t come up with a simpler or faster system for updating your smartphone.
Finally we have the area of third-party applications which, although still extremely limited in number (about two dozen are available at launch either preinstalled or via Palm’s App Catalog), already clearly help to demonstrate the new realm of possibilities that thanks to smart, skilled and innovative third-party developers both the webOS and Palm Pre are opening.
I have to say that, even at this early stage, developers have already done an incredible job with rich, beautiful, fun and for the most part completely free apps of all sorts including: Google Maps, YouTube, Amazon MP3, Doc View (for MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint), PDF View, Pandora, Fandango, AccuWeather, Flixster, Express Stocks, NYTimes, WHERE, LinkedIn as well as two great Twitter apps called Spaz and Tweed. I’m sure that there will be a LOT more coming very soon.
Considering that the Palm Pre is the work of a company that many have repeatedly suggested is “on its last breath” you really have to wonder about their diagnosis skills because right now, writing this review at my desk while getting beeps on my Pre alerting me to incoming email and listening to streaming music via Pandora in the background, I can tell you quite categorically that there’s quite a bit more life and energy left in this company!
After a long streak of losses, Palm has finally managed to hit a home run with the Pre and rejoined the major league at the top of the smartphone game – not a small achievement when you consider that many of its competitors are 20+ times its size.
Overall, the Palm Pre is without a doubt one of the finest examples of a next-generation smartphone – one that pushes the boundaries of your imagination and takes it to a Wireless 2.0 world filled with exciting new possibilities. The Pre is a device that allows you not only to Think Different but to Think Very, Very Different...
Preonauts are always uniquely different…