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Palm Pre & webOS First Impressions

Palm Pre Smartphone & Next-Generation webOS Finally Deliver Not Only Revolutionary Innovation But Also A Work Of Passion & Love


It’s amazing what a difference 24 hours can make in your life…  In my case, as many will have noticed over the last couple of weeks, I had reached an all time low where my passion and excitement for all things Palm had been almost completely depleted with thoughts of leaving to another device such as the iPhone or BlackBerry crossing my mind daily (even though I surprisingly actually rather love my Treo Pro).

The fact is that from its inception this blog was above all a dedicated work of passion – one so strong that it captured the imagination of millions and along with other equally dedicated sites helped vault the Treo smartphone to the top of its league. 

Although I remained unflinchingly loyal to this community, Palm and our Treo throughout the good and bad years there is no doubt that in recent times I nonetheless found it increasingly more difficult to bring my dedication and energy to work every day.

Those who have followed me over the years will know that I have a complete aversion to BS and spend virtually all of my time looking for the needles in the haystack that will ignite both my passion and imagination on a daily basis – I basically find it nearly impossible to write about anything that doesn’t in one way or another get me excited.

I mention all of this because as you will read below in my first impressions of the next-generation Palm webOS and Pre smartphone I personally feel that aside from all the innovation or bells and whistles that the new software and hardware may bring to the table it ultimately pales in comparison to the importance of Palm’s ability to reignite our passion and imagination.

After reaching a seemingly insurmountable low, I am slowly but surely beginning to recharge my batteries and feel that Palm’s webOS and Pre smartphone mark the start of the company’s turnaround – few if any will dispute the fact that this new combination of hardware and software is the most significant development in the mobile space since the release of the iPhone and I am naturally extremely excited by all the potential that this opens.

Palm webOS First Impressions

The ultimate virtues and limitations of using an OS are always extremely hard to assess without the benefit of actually holding a device in your hands and playing around with it for a while.  Having said this, during the various demonstrations that I was given at CES the Palm webOS with its many “Synergy” components clearly showed how well it manages to “mesh” and “mash” multiple functionalities and data streams in a completely new and unique manner.


In my opinion the meshing and mashing that the Palm Synergy offers is by far the greatest strength of the new webOS as it takes the whole idea of “multitasking” and integrating disparate data sources (such as Google Calendar and Facebook among others) to a completely new level

 Palm-WebOS-screen1 Palm-WebOS-screen2

Having said this, the fact that your smartphone can multitask is ultimately not as important as having a smartphone that allows YOU to multitask and this is undoubtedly one of the areas where the Palm webOS shines.

Where competing operating systems still use a rather “linear” approach to performing a task, the Palm webOS on the other hand immediately gives you the ability to quickly work on five or ten things simultaneously – all within an environment that closely resembles the one you currently use on your PC but which has been fully adapted for a mobile device. 

This alone makes me feel that the webOS is not only taking the whole idea of “mobile computing” to a completely new level but is also the first mobile OS that truly integrates and extends the power of the web within your smartphone and not just your mobile browser.

Palm Pre Smartphone First Impressions

Like me, many people may look at the images of the Pre smartphone (particularly when closed) and not quite get the immediate sense of satisfaction that comes from looking at a beautiful object – the Pre is certainly not ugly but it also, at first sight, does not appear to have an “iconic” design.


As I nonetheless quickly discovered, the fact is that the Pre smartphone reveals its true beauty when you hold it in your hands – it is one of the most “organic” devices that I have come across in a very long time.  The combination of size, texture and rounded contours of the Pre make you want to gently caress it like a pebble with your hand and fingers while it rests comfortably in your palm – you simply don’t want to let go of it.


Additionally, the real benefit of the Pre smartphone comes from the combination of a full portrait (320 x 480 pixels) multitouch screen with a vertical sliding full QWERTY keyboard.  Not only does this combination offer you the very best of both worlds but I personally also feel that the Pre simply looks stunning with its keyboard extended.

It’s hard to explain but after holding the Pre in my hands I came away with the sense that most smartphones on the market today feel like “machines designed by machines” while the Pre is the first in my opinion that delivers a high-tech tool that has been crafted by artists with a love and passion that no Palm smartphone has had since the release of the Treo 600 some five years ago.

Gone are the days that narrow-minded accountants and engineers seemed to set the design and specification for Palm smartphones.  It’s now quickly evident that from a design perspective alone the Pre smartphone clearly illustrates how Palm has finally been able to regain its “mojo” and I hope that with it the company will once again be on the path to deliver truly revolutionary devices.

As someone mentioned elsewhere, compared to the Pre most competing smartphones “feel as if they’re still in Beta” and I have to admit that after letting it go from my hands at CES I have experienced some very serious withdrawal symptoms – I don’t think that I have so absolutely and categorically wanted to own something in years and I am trying to figure out how I can possibly convince Palm to send me an evaluation unit well ahead of its estimated release date between March and May this year.


While I will naturally delve into much greater detail over the Palm webOS and Pre smartphone in the coming days and weeks the single most important point that supercedes all matters of features, functionalities and specifications at this stage is simply the fact that for me at least Palm has finally again been able to capture my heart and mind in a way that I have not felt in many years.

This ability to rekindle both my passion and imagination and that of millions of devoted Palm fans is without a doubt the single greatest achievement that has come out of the company’s new webOS and Pre smartphone announcements last week.  The goodwill that was almost completely depleted will not be filled back overnight but I feel that at long last the “Zen of Palm” has returned and I am confident that we will all finally be able to rejoice again having truly stunning and beloved devices in the palm of our hands.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to share your opinion about both the webOS and Pre smartphone with your fellow Treonauts below:

Palm Pre Smartphone & webOS
How impressed are you by Palm's new Pre smartphone and webOS?

  Ultra Cool: I'm so excited I wet my pants
  Super Cool: Could not be more excited
  Cool: Not bad but I wanted more
  Uncool: Thanks but no thanks

 Treonauts are always full of passion

Posted by Andrew on January 12, 2009 at 01:21 PM

Palm Pre

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by dgarts | Jan 12, 2009 1:42:54 PM

How's the security on this thing?

After all, it makes no sense for the contacts to have info from Facebook unless it is constantly checking in with facebook to see what info has changed. That means, when setting up Synergy, users will be expected to enter ID/pw for every online service they wish to synergize.

Now, if I lose my handheld, does that give access to everything?

To be sure, this would always have been a problem for Treos that are full of personal info. But, now that Pre is trying to do more, is there more effort being put into how that data is being protected?

by Peter Lynch | Jan 12, 2009 2:46:12 PM

Andrew, I was beginning to think that you were having too much fun in Vegas and forgetting to post on your blog. Great post and good to hear that your passion is back.

by Sam | Jan 12, 2009 3:16:17 PM

If the 7.5 Gb of user-available memory stat on the Pre is for real, then I'm probably on board (depending on the price point), especially if my Big 3 applications (Mobipocket book reader, Ultrasoft Money, and WakefieldSoft's LoanExpert) either run on or are updated to run on the Pre. I'm already with Sprint, so the carrier is obviously not an issue.

I would eventually like to have a memory card expansion slot if the Pre doesn't have one, though. The ability to expand the memory of your smartphone without having to buy a brand new one is a pretty big bonus for the old Treos.

As long as the new processor has enough power to run all the applications smoothly and all the extra power of the processor hasn't been taken up by the "pretty" stuff on the new phone, I think we've got a major advance, here.

by Jason | Jan 12, 2009 3:24:37 PM

Here's a suggestion for how to get an early release of the Pre for you to play with: offer to blog for Palm (on their website) on life with the Pre. Palm needs major marketing help with this thing, as much of the goodness of the device may be hard to get for people who don't use one. A well-written blog, such as yours, with screenshots would be of tremendous value in helping people understand how revolutionary this device is.

by anonymous | Jan 12, 2009 3:36:13 PM

Does anyone know how easily data stored in Palm OS can be transferred over to the new webOS?

by Captain K | Jan 12, 2009 3:54:04 PM

I LIKE the rounded form. Apple's current obsession with boxy, inorganic forms is a trend I don't care for. Half the comments are that Pre is too derivative of iPhone and the other half are that it's too different from iPhone. I guess Palm got it just right!

Has anyone else noticed the Pre's resemblance to a Star Trek communicator?! Fascinating ... and timely! It's gonna be great summer!!!

by Larry | Jan 12, 2009 3:54:14 PM

Very nice - will make me give up my 755p but only if it's available on Verizon or unlocked but compatible with Verizon in the US. I am locked into my carrier - I won't be changing even for such a nice looking device. I hope to see soon the agreements with all the carriers - not just Sprint.

Does it have an infrared port?

by Jim | Jan 12, 2009 3:59:46 PM

I am a but stunned and put off by the name, as horrible as it is (Google for "pre accessories") I find it ironic (or worse) that it won't actually run "pre pre" applications. The only reason I can see to call it a pre would be to point out it runs all the pre this new thing apps. Letting it run all the old PRC files would be a nice (huge even?) way to jump start the new phone. I would have liked to see it include a mini or micro SD slot. If it doesn't have a "normal" headphone jack than everyone should consider this still born. I am sick of non-standard headphone jacks. The Samsung blackjack I and II don't have it, the ATT 8525/Tilt don't, and on and on. Palm used to offer a odd-ball headphone jack. That pissed me off, but at least they kept it going, so I could use my old adapters. I am sick of each new phone needing all new EVERYTHING... sure, I know it is a profit center, and I know the iPod connector is apple's non-standard, but apple made their connector "a standard" by being so darn successful, and at lest they have kept it the same from generation and model on and on... *AND* they use a normal headphone connector. Bless them for that. This Palm needs to be BETTER than iPhone... not just a knock off. I like the real keyboard, but it needs to work with "Good link www.good.com " and have native activesync, normal connectors (good ole USB and headphones please) and some backwards comp would make a lot of sense... by not going with WM6.1 or the old Palm, they dump access to a lot of developers tools and existing software, they made this really hard on themselves! Why didn't they at least raise the screen resolution?!? 800x600 with video out would make this worth considering.

oh well, I guess I don't see the target market. Apple haters? Blackberry haters? seems like a weak position. Without accessory and application compatibly it isn't a strong "Palm upgraders’ " marketing angle.

by Tom L | Jan 12, 2009 4:23:07 PM

Andrew -

I had sensed your waning enthusiasm - and I was feeling it myself. I grudgingly conceded when my wife told me she was leaving her Treo and going BlackBerry in the Fall. My 755p seems woefully behind the times.

But all that changed with the Pre and WebOS. It just vaults Palm way ahead of everyone, Iphone included. I can't wait to get my hands on one.

Palm and all of your Treonauts are very fortunate that your passion has been rekindled. Thanks for all of the great posts and insights over the years. I love your blog and site. I'm looking forward to hearing more from you about the Pre and WebOS for years to come.

by Lee D | Jan 12, 2009 4:47:13 PM

Floored by how impressive the device is and excited to see that they've still made it very functional for the serious user.

I believe with 3rd party support, this will be leaps and bounds better than my Treo 755p.

Looking forward to picking one up!

by Sammy | Jan 12, 2009 6:08:23 PM

No Palm OS backwards compatibility and no expansion slot. What were they thinking?

I loved the presentation and was excited about the device until these two facts came out. Palm OS users who were attracted to the iPhone/WM/BB/Android, but were reluctant to abandon their old library of Palm OS apps, now know the apps will not have a home on their new device. If you're going to leave behind a 10-year OS anyway, you might as well explore all your options.

by Gil | Jan 12, 2009 6:52:37 PM

I did an interesting comparison between Palm Pre, Windows Mobile, iPhone, BlackBerry and Android.

Check out what happened in here:


by RogerDodger | Jan 12, 2009 9:06:46 PM

I don't the lack of expansion slots is the problem. The iPhone has shown the vast majority of consumers don't care.

I'd expect the move right at Christmas would be to offer a 16 gig Pre. It's a smart business model that unfortunately punishes early adopters.

I wonder what sort of desktop interface there will be with the new Pre and will the feature set be enough to attract the crowd of developers.

by serge | Jan 12, 2009 9:13:32 PM

A PALM pré-mature...
On one level I admire the multitasking simultaneous ability of the new Palm pré to collect all datas and actions of your life in the same device.
1) When you switch from Facebook to your most personnal datas, or intimate notes or professional confidential emails everybody has access to your most provate datas. Which firewall will protects your life -- if everything is OPEN ONLINE… ? Do you call this a Pro or a Pré-text to spy your datas, exactly as lICQ informs you about who is opening his computer ? Welcome to the Palm Pré-smartphone virus. They will now flourish !
2) Are you not shocked that you are obliged to stick your life and movements to ONE, and only one, telephone company ? All the smart things of the Palm pré are only accessible through SPRINT ( and stops while on a free WiFi ! ). This a collusion of PALM and Sprint to profits but not free services. Is there a life after Sprint ? May we have a life without Sprint ? Shame on Palm ( for the same reason I refused to buy an Iphone and went to an Unlocked superb Nokia E 90 ).
3) Liberty is not to have access to everything and to all time. Liberty is the hability to select the moment : what and when and to who… Switching apps is smart, I agree, but it also distracts your attention in a kind of intertainment way of life… A philosophy of consuming and by eccess of access. I prefere a machine with more divided fonctions. When I take a picture, I am not searching on Google or writing a poem. I like all thes fonction but not being ONLINE !
4) If your Palm pré remains open to all, ONLNE, it means that you have accepted your self-addiction to a BiG BROTHER process ! Contrary to your anthusiasm, I perceive the Palm webOS as a TOTALITARIAN approach wich makes obsolete the era of intimacy...
5) All along the online demonstration of the Palm pré in Las Vegas, I had the strong feeling that this smart new Palm webOS will better serve a laptop or desk computer rather than a smartphone. Too small for such huge amount of associations of informations. Unless you swear to become a Nintendo like maniac, knocking furiously on buttons and screens in the subway…
6) Blackberry + Iphone + Sprint = business corporate money = Palm pré = confusion of objectives... Willing to control everything in a small machine is a wrong concept, it is a NEW TAYLORIST approach of alienation ! Big BROTHER is here for real !
Adios liberty of choice ! And more we are witnessing the full rapture of datas by one company... Imagine now being soon subject to Spams and poping publicities on your Palm pré, just in the middle of typing an SMS or Email, or coming out Facebook…
You will see it soon…
7) Yes, Palm has included a WI-FI but what for, if we cannot use the superb given apps out of SPRINT !!!! To fully use this Palm pré, and to get a real benefit of your device, you have to swear a blind comitment to SPRINT with prohibitive fees ....
8) And what do you do when you are, like me, a constant traveller ( a theatre director ), joyfully switching SIM cards at each new temporary country… Telephone cards are finally cheaper than keeping your mother telephone company abroad…
You will never see on Spint…
9 ) I agree Palm has given birth to a seductive baby, it sounds superb but the philosophy behind repulses me… IT'S A POLITIC of MAFIOSI -- a full racket of your datas ...
10) I expected that Nova ( the Palm webOS) would be an UNLOCKED OPEN system and MAC compatible... So Palm has decided to abandon the Apple platform. This is stupid. Non sens ! There are plenty Mac users, like me, who expected keeping Palm… after so many years of fidelity and expectations …
I find myself now illegitimate ( I will not dive for Windows) and declared dead as we, Macintosh users, should choose « obviously » an Iphone !!! Poor Palm marketing strategy !…
Mr Collingan you should go fishing and retire ...
Bye bye Palm !!!!
Que viva Nokia !!!!
Que viva Iphone !!! … for the rest of us…

by Ebzster | Jan 13, 2009 5:47:34 AM

I only have three letters to say before I will sink my teeth into getting my own Pre...


by lascoltodelvenerdi | Jan 13, 2009 6:08:51 AM

After looking the CES presentation on YouTube I changed my vote from "Super Cool" to "Ultra Cool"!

I want one Pre! ^_^

by Joe G | Jan 13, 2009 8:50:44 AM

Will this OS run all Palm OS software?

by What's in a name, Anyway? | Jan 13, 2009 1:55:38 PM

Hey Andrew,

Silly question, but I will ask it anyway: Are we "Preonauts" now? Will any of the future units in the Pre-family hold the Treo name, or is this it (for the name)? What's the name of this site going to be - how's this gonna work?

Since Palm hasn't provided us with any detail about a desktop app, how this will work in areas with little to no data coverage (tunnels, parts of hospitals, etc.) and other questions, I don't want to repeat these same questions so this is the best I can come up with...

Keep up the good work

by Mal | Jan 13, 2009 2:53:27 PM

The Pre makes my 800w look like a box of dookie. How can these two devices be made by the same company?

by Victor | Jan 13, 2009 3:42:19 PM

Ok, that's it. After watch a lot of Palm Pre videos, I can say: I'm a Preonaut! Andrew, register right now the domain!

by eric | Jan 15, 2009 6:16:35 PM

i'm very excited for it after watching the videos. to me facebook is a bunch of time waster, but i can understand why palm included it. (teenager's money)
i wonder what kind of apps will be available for it for business minded people. i need at least a vpn like what iphone has. is ssh a far fetch idea for webos ? i have it in my treo.

by Erick | Jan 18, 2009 10:53:56 PM

In the pre-smart phone days, my belt looked like Batman's; carrying a cell phone, pager, and PDA. Utilizing all of the aforementioned gadgets simultaneously had me looking like I was drawing on a six shooter like Matt Dillon.

When the Treo 600 was introduced, my waistline decreased as my excitement increased. Everything in one device! Amazing! I quickly became a Palm fan and foe, as my 600 could be come notoriously unstable at the most inopportune moments. It finally met its demise via a claw hammer when it dropped a three way call - high dollar real estate transaction. The next day, I went back to the Sprint store and decided to take a gamble on the Treo 650. Although similar in functions, it was much improved.

That 650 took more abuse than Tina Turner's marriage to Ike. Yet it never faltered and always delivered to the point of being ubiquitous. Imagine my excitement when Palm announced that it would be introducing the Treo 800! If the 650 was so good, the 800 had to be even better - Oh the anticipation of all the goodies! I waited and waited impatiently, calling the Sprint store every day, inquiring about its arrival (I think that at least three people quit due to my pesky calls).

Finally! yes, finally - It arrived! I broke at least 10 traffic rules speeding to the Sprint store to pick up my awesome new gadget. An hour later, I was making calls and exploring the 800. It was a little different and its performance wasn't much better. Strangely, I had to hard-boot it that day. I was sure that the problem was MY fault. After several days of re-booting due to lockups and flawed performance (including bluetooth loss), I started to come to the conclusion that perhaps the phone was the problem. The straw that broke the camel's back was when I slightly bumped up against my desk and chipped two buttons! That never happened with my 650. This thing was cheap! Angrily, I went back to the Sprint store to return it. The sales rep (very knowledgeable) stated that they'd taken 20 something 800's back in just two days due to others experiencing the same problems.

OK, what to buy? After doing a bit of research, I settled on the HTC Mogul. My first impression was that it was cheap and flimsy, but offered the features that I was seeking. Well, I've had the Mogul for several months and still don't like it. Sure, it has some really cool features, but it's still cheap and flimsy. It scratches and chips easily. The battery life sucks and the performance is painstakingly slow. The shining aspect is that it's very fast in 3G/EV mode. However, Wi-Fi is useless and visibly drains the battery. So, I'm on my quest for another smart phone.

I've been exhaustively researching the Palm Pre and I do find it incredibly fascinating. Sure, I'm a bit jaded, but hope that it delivers as promised. If so, I'll be once again a Palmtrooper. The synergy, web OS, and ergonomics of this device have me excited and once again pestering the Sprint people. I am concerned about security, especially with the facebook refreshing. I also want seamless integration with my MS Office documents (reading and applications). The 3 megapixel camera w/ flash is welcome as well, due to my needing it for my job.

I have my C-notes in hand for when this device comes out. My enthusiasm is re-kindled and I'm ready to put three more Sprint techs on the unempoyment line. And yes, the tried and true 650 is still working with aplomb - my 18 year old son now has it; talk about testimony!

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