If you listened to the last couple of MobileTechRoundup podcasts you heard me say I was not planning on picking up a Palm Pre. However, a few things occurred that made me rethink my strategy regarding the Pre. With the small number of available review units available (and no timeline of when I may actually get one to check out), my mobile device history that began with the use of Palm devices back in 1997 with the Pilot 1000 and fact that I still have a special place in my heart for Palm, and the fateful timeliness of having a business trip complete the day before the Pre launch I just could not hold back. I was out in Hawaii crawling around a ship for the last week and was scheduled to fly home on Saturday at noon. With no family or other obligations on Saturday morning, what else was a mobile enthusiast to do other than get to the largest Sprint store in Honolulu and get in line early.
I arrived at the Sprint store at 4:30 am and ended up being number three in line behind two guys that arrived at 4:00 am. Sprint employees started arriving around 6:45 am (the store was scheduled to open at 8 am) as the line grew to about 25 before the doors were open. The manager came through the line and introduced himself and shook everyone's hand while setting up and offering free Starbucks coffee and donuts to everyone in line. I had some good conversations with folks in line and many said they read the PreCentral.net Pre review and were excited about the Pre. About 90% of the people in line were using some kind of Palm Treo so these were definitely Palm fans. I also heard there would be 80 Pres at this store and the day before I called another Sprint store, Best Buy, and two Radio Shack stores with no other confirmation they would have any devices.
Promptly at 8 am the doors were open to cheers from the employees as we entered and direction to each customer service representative. Jason helped me out with my purchase and was very helpful and fast. He said employees could not buy a Pre yet, but he was pretty happy with his Sprint Touch Pro and showed how much he customized it. I bought the Pre, a Touchstone charger, and a plastic holster case because if you bought two or more accessories they were giving you 20% off of them, which made the Touchstone $55. I setup an account as a new Sprint customer and walked away paying just under $400, with a $100 mail-in rebate to obtain later. I was then directed to a table where a representative from Palm's California office was helping people walk through the initial setup.
I turned on my Pre and followed the prompts to set things up. I then added my Exchange account to sync my contacts and calendar. A guy was asking about how to setup a hosted Gmail account and no one there knew so I chimed in and helped out the Palm and Sprint reps and gave them the proper settings needed to get this setup for customers. I then attempted to make a call to my other cell phone to make sure voice service was activated and had to walk through a process on the phone with a Sprint representative. After that I headed out to go to the hotel and charge up my Pre while loading it up with apps, perform the OS 1.0.2 update, and get ready for my 5-1/2 hour flight home.
I popped of the back of the Pre and replaced it with the nicer soft touch matte back included with the Touchstone. I downloaded a few apps, including Tweed, AP News, New York Times, Pandora, Flixster, and Classic. I put Laridian's MyBible and TideTool onto my device to use with the Classic Palm OS emulator program. I also connected to my MacBook Pro using iTunes and was very pleased to see the Pre show up as an iPod Classic with seamless syncing of songs, photos, and videos. I put a couple movies (Nacho Libre and 300), several podcasts, several songs, and a few photos on my Pre via iTunes. I didn't think too much of this news when it appeared a couple weeks ago, but have to say this is VERY convenient and could be a major bonus for the Pre.
I made sure to easily switch into Airplane mode and then attempted to see what I could do with the Pre in a disconnected scenario. I was able to do the following:
- Create an appointment
- Listen to music
- Watch a movie
- View and edit contacts
- View photos
- Compose emails (I did get an error message in the notification area, but the email stayed in the Outbox queue and was sent when I reacquired a signal upon landing.)
- Manage some settings (ringtones, date & time, etc.)
I was unable to perform the following, many of which are to be expected when offline with a couple minor surprises:
- Surf the web
- Download email
- Use any Sprint service apps
- Watch YouTube videos
- Play the Connect 4 game (I thought this was a bit odd)
- Work with Google Maps
- Listen to Pandora
I kept my Pre charged up using my Nokia DC-11 charger and my MacBook Pro, via USB. I can't judge battery life yet and need a couple of days of usage with full charges thrown in there.
Overall, the Sprint buying experience was outstanding and the folks at Sprint really made me feel good about the purchase. Their plans are extremely competitive and now I need to decide if I keep a 3rd wireless carrier or drop one of my other ones with AT&T being the most likely candidate since I have my home phone and family phones on T-Mobile.