One week with my Palm Pre-cious reveals the good and bad

One week with my Palm Pre-cious reveals the good and bad

Summary: Tomorrow morning will mark the end of my first week with the Palm Pre after waiting in line in Hawaii for a few hours to ensure I could pick one up. Like the T-Mobile G1 that I bought on launch day last Fall, the Palm Pre runs a new Linux-based OS and both mobile operating systems have been surprisingly quite functional and stable. There are several things I love about the Pre and a few I do not like so let's take a look at the device and Sprint service after my first week of usage where I will also offer up some thoughts on how and/or what could be improved with updates or future devices. You can check out my image gallery and video below for some visuals of the Palm Pre as well.

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Tomorrow morning will mark the end of my first week with the Palm Pre after waiting in line in Hawaii for a few hours to ensure I could pick one up. Like the T-Mobile G1 that I bought on launch day last Fall, the Palm Pre runs a new Linux-based OS and both mobile operating systems have been surprisingly quite functional and stable. There are several things I love about the Pre and a few I do not like so let's take a look at the device and Sprint service after my first week of usage where I will also offer up some thoughts on how and/or what could be improved with updates or future devices. You can check out my image gallery and video below for some visuals of the Palm Pre as well.


Image Gallery:One week with the Palm pre WebOS device. Image Gallery: Pre on Touchstone Image Gallery: Palm Pre and keyboard

As I mentioned before I started using Palm devices back in 1997 and I still have feelings for the brand, which hopefully won't have me making irrational choices when it comes to deciding whether or not the Palm Pre stays in my collection. If the Pre was available now as a GSM device to use with T-Mobile or AT&T then I would have no hesitation at all about keeping it. If I was already a Sprint customer looking for a new smartphone I would pick up and buy the Pre as well. However, the choice is a bit more difficult when I already have service with a couple carriers and would have to become a new Sprint customer to get the Pre so let's take a look at the device and service after one week.

What is good about the Pre: I am generally a positive guy so let me start off this blog post with the things I like about the Pre.

  • The display is fantastic. It is small, but the colors are vivid, the fonts are excellent, and the integration with the front panel is slick.
  • The notifications are very good. The Pre has notifications very similar to the Google Android platform, but they are found on the bottom rather than the top.
  • The video player works well and provides a good viewing experience.
  • The Pre does a good job with multitasking. I was listening to streaming Pandora, checking email, conducting conversations via IM, surfing the web, and checking out photos with no hesitation in the OS and easy switching between cards.
  • The apps are on their way with 30 available in the Palm App Catalog as of now, including the new Evernote for Palm Pre client. I have several others loaded on my Pre and am happy with the selection that includes Pandora, two Twitter clients, and news clients.
  • The gesture navigation and screen methods are fun. It does have a bit of a learning curve, but I now enjoy the experience.
  • Sprint has some excellent clients and services included. I love Sprint Navigation from Telenav and am amazed the $10 monthly fee is included with your plan fees.
  • Email is very good, especially with the multiple account in a single inbox functionality. I hate having to switch accounts on the iPhone where you have to go all the way back out and then dive back into each of your accounts. On the Pre you can show the inbox of all of them or quickly switch to individual accounts.
  • Synergy is pretty slick and I like the integration with Facebook and contact photos and numbers.
  • The Pre feels great in your hand and is very pocketable.

What needs work?:

  • The Calendar application is weak and needs some major work.
  • The battery life is a bit limited and with heavy usage I can go a half day, just like my T-Mobile G1.
  • The device isn't as durable and robust as I had hoped. I think I have a defective unit as the display clicks and moves side-to-side quite a bit in both closed and opened positions.
  • Keyboard functionality: I would like to see better support for keyboard shortcuts and more integration with the OS. I did learn from Kevin Tofel that there is an easier way to cut, copy, and paste rather than highlighting and then having to tap in the upper left and go through the menu system. You can tap and hold on the gesture area and then press the C, V or X key at the same time.
  • There are no apps for editing or creating documents, but the viewers are quite good and you can access the file system and attach things to your email.

Andy Inhatko is quite the iPhone fan, but he did point out a couple of valid issues with the Palm Pre in his Chicago Sun-Times article, namely the inconsistent UI parts and pieces and the Pre keyboard.

The bottom row of five icons, four are user configurable with the fifth serving as the launcher, live statically on pages with a cool wave design when you slide up from the gesture area. I was expecting to see the ability to keep scrolling right or left to see more application shortcuts and don't quite understand why there is a wave design at all. The center pearl button also seems to have very little functionality other than to get you back to the main page, but gestures can get you there as well.

Some swipes are required above the gesture area on the display and some below. To be consistent I often swipe left and right in the gesture area to try to flick through the cards, which does not work. I have been getting some emails about the way you can change the gesture area to switch cards and I did try that for a couple of days. However, I then had trouble going Back and found this was a more important function for me in the gesture area.

I am quite adept at working with QWERTY thumb keyboards and knew I would eventually become proficient with the Pre model. For text entry, I am actually quite fast with it, but there really is very little else the keyboard is good for. You can assign speed dials to contacts, but that is it. On my T-Mobile G1 I can assign browser shortcuts, speed dial number, and browser shortcuts to any of the keys. I can also use the keyboard for common keyboard functions like cut, copy, and paste. The Palm Pre keyboard is quite a departure from the Treo keyboards Palm fans are used to where you could press and hold to enter the alternate character or double press quickly to capitalize, etc.

There is an orange function button that you use for the alternate characters (numbers and punctuation), but only the numbers are highlighted in orange while the other alternate characters are in white. I think they should have went with the orange for all alternate characters and then they could have used another color (like on previous Treo models) for the keys that have numbers on them for dialing.

Kevin also posted a list of 10 things he wants updated on his Pre and makes some very good observations that I mostly agree with.

Where do I go from here?: My Nokia N97 arrives today so I will have another new device to play with this weekend. I am going to give the Palm Pre another week before I decide if I am going to add Sprint and the Pre to my collection. If I do keep it, then it is definitely going to be swapped out for one without a defective front display. I want to also pop my AT&T SIM into my iPhone 3G to see which of these two touchscreen devices is a better fit for me. I also really like my T-Mobile G1 and think the G1 is better than the Pre in terms of functionality, but the Pre has a slicker UI more along the lines of the iPhone.

I live in an area where the Sprint signal is poor most of the time so even if I do want the device, the low signal and limited wireless service may prevent me from keeping the device.

Topics: Telcos, Hardware, Mobility

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57 comments
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  • Waiting for the apple haters to jump on pre...

    like they did to the iphone.

    I've read a lot of Pre reviews and everyone agrees; useless keyboard,
    no auto correction or completion, inconsistent interface, and poor
    battery life.

    The apple haters jumped all over the iphone for its supposedly 'poor'
    battery life, even though it was proven to have the longest lasting
    battery among similar smartphones.

    They jumped on the iPhone because it didn't have a 'real' keyboard.
    Click on the link for Andy's review and he explains how a 'real'
    keyboard cannot make up for apple's virtual one.

    I had to laugh when you said the Pre had '30 apps' and you were
    happy with that! When the iPhone came out the apple haters laughed
    and bragged that their WinMo phones had thousands of apps.

    Who's laughing now? The new iPhone has vga video capture and
    editing, magnetometer, 3d graphics, 50,000 apps, etc, etc,

    and it brings in the features that apple haters were always pointing at;
    longer battery life, copy and paste, etc.

    Where is the Zdnet article now that talks about the great iPhone
    features? You won't see it here, folks.

    Zdnet is still a PC centric site that will do all it can to denigrate apple
    no matter how advanced or better its products are. And most of the
    posters here are still the microsoft loving dinosaurs of tech.

    Thank God most young people now in schools and colleges are
    choosing Apple computers, in ten years, it will be those people
    running IT departments and we're going to see a sea of change. An
    microsoft certified certificate won't be worth the paper its written on!
    ShazAmerica
    • AND you can buy an iPhone for $99!!

      Game. Set. and Match to the iPhone.


      ShazAmerica
      • But it's still on AT&T wth AT&T rates...

        Game. Set. and Match to the Pre on the cheaper Sprint network.

        Month Rate * 2 yr contract > Device cost

        That's third grade math people...
        T1Oracle
    • How about the iphone when it launched

      I think the post is a good one, one thing I have to ask ShazAmerica is how many apps the I-phone had in their app store when the I-phone first launched? Oh wait, that answer would be none, so yeah for a phone to launch with only 30 in no way matches the i-phone app store, did you really think that with Apple and it's developers having almost a 2 year head start on the app store along with 2 years of working with the OS that they shouldn't be ahead of Palm?
      As far as Apple's products being better than anybody elses, just becuase you pay 3 times the price doesn't mean it's better. Let's look at the Pre vs. Iphone 3G, since the 3Gs isn't out yet. Pre has a faster processor, about the same battery life, a better camera, copy and paste (although Apple introduces this in their 3rd release of the OS, it took Apple 3 OS releases to realize that copy and paste was wanted), multi-tasking (Apple still hasn't figured out how to do this), and a better network.
      I can see where the Iphone is worth it over the Pre, oh wait I mean I see how the Iphone is better than the Pre, oh wait, well at least now it's cheaper because their 3rd version is coming, if you can't beat the competition with better products, drop your price and beat them on price at least, huh apple?
      scooterge558@...
      • I love the 'since the 3G S isn't out yet' part!

        Apple didn't have a 2 year head start. Palm's been making
        PDA/smartphones for more years than Apple yet Apple jumped in the
        market, caught Palm (and every other smartphone maker) flat footed,
        and changed the entire paradigm of smartphone design.

        Now, everyone and their brother is trying to copy Apple's hardware,
        app store, etc.

        The iPhone 3G S has such a fast processor that it can capture VGA
        video and edit it. How does the Pre's video look? That's right, it can't
        take it. And do you really think apple 'doesn't know how' to implement
        multitasking. Are you serious? Why do you think the Palm's battery
        dies so quickly. Apple told you multitasking is a battery killer.

        And how do you say the iPhone is three times more expensive? You
        can buy one for $99

        You think Apple can't beat the competition on smartphone features,
        maybe you better check some other reviews on other sites besides
        zdnet where they handily show the iphone beats the pre.
        ShazAmerica
        • A bit wrong...

          Apple is the original PDA company. The Newton came out 18 years ago. LONG before Palm was out. The Newton was incredibly powerful, especially the last MP2000/MP2100's. Thew Newtonw as killed off when Steve Jobs came back (Due to the HUGE amount of development cost).
          Stuka
          • re: A bit wrong...

            Not a phone though. Plus, Palm created the Graffiti simplified text input system for the Newton.
            bimmin
        • umm no

          "Apple didn't have a 2 year head start. Palm's been making
          PDA/smartphones for more years than Apple yet Apple jumped in the
          market, caught Palm (and every other smartphone maker) flat footed,
          and changed the entire paradigm of smartphone design."

          Realy because HTC and a number of other phone makers still make touch screen phones with keyboards, some of them are even side slide.
          But that wasnt on the iphone was it? how could that be?
          jdbukis@...
          • That stretch must have hurt

            You know full well that when the iPhone came out, HTC and every other
            smart phone maker scrambled like crazy to release new products that
            emphasized a touch screen interface using the finger as a pointing
            device instead of a stylus.

            The iPhone doesn't have a slide out keyboard because Apple thinks that
            keyboards on smart phones are stupid. Kind of like they think that FM
            tuners on MP3 players is stupid. Apparently a lot of people agree, or
            don't care, judging by unit sales.
            frgough
          • But did not Sony-Ericson come out with

            a touch screen phone in December, six months [i]before[/i] the iPhone?
            GuidingLight
          • And Motorola came out with one in November 2005...

            It's called the A1200 - or the Ming.
            Wolfie2K3
        • As I mentioned earlier

          are you attempting to convince [i]us[/i], or [i]yourself[/i]?
          GuidingLight
        • I don't know why everyone is so offended that the pre got a decent review..

          I haven't used the pre yet, but I don't see why you seem to find it offensive that it got a decent review. From my perspective the review seemed fair to me, it didn't go over the top in praise, and it really didn't seem like it bashed on the iphone either, unless of course you're an Apple fan-boy who gets all defensive as soon as someone suggests that something may be of comparable value...
          edwards.wb
          • Apple fans tend to be snobs

            That's who Apple markets to, hence the pricing schemes and the "We're better than you" commercials.
            T1Oracle
          • RE: Apple fans tend to be snobs

            One of the milder descriptions. Apparently, the best thing about owning an iphone, imac, etc. is having the ability to say I have one and you don't. Oh, and also it entitles you to call the rest of the world stupid if they have something which fits there needs as well or better. There is more of course, and to be fair, there are plenty of NBMers out there who are just as bad. Of course, us Linux enthusiasts would never ever do anything quite that crass.
            richdave
        • Uh.. News Flash...

          So what. Apple's having a fire sale on the old inventory to make room for the 3rd generation. Big whoop. The OLD iPhone doesn't do the nifty tricks - VGA video - that the new one will. So the 3x price STILL applies. Sure, you can by the OLD one - but if you want a cheapo camcorder, you'll have to shell out the big bucks.
          Wolfie2K3
      • multitasking

        the iphone had multitasking from day one. just surf the web, look into your
        calendar or email and listen to your ipod at the same time. the differnece to
        multitasking on winmo devices and now the pre is that apple doesn't allow
        multitasking and thus backround processes for 3rd party apps.

        they stated over and over their reasoning behind this decision: it brings your
        phone to a crawl and kills your battery. you can argue with that reasoning
        but to state iphone doesn't have multitasking is just plain wrong. they now
        introduce their notification server as a workaround for the multitasking
        performance and battery problem. and as soon as batteries will be more
        powerful i am sure they will loosen the restrictions step by step.

        by the way can you have a call and surf the web or look into your email at
        the same time on your pre?

        anyway i prefer an iphone 3gs with no multitasking for 3rd party apps and 2
        days of battery life to a device with multitasking and half a day of battery
        life.
        bannedfromzdnetagain
    • Nice troll!

      The article was about things the author likes and dislikes about the new Palm Pre. Your post is about how ZDNet hates the iPhone. ??? Talk about "off-topic"... Nice troll, dude!
      foxaroni
    • Not 30 apps, 10,000 apps...

      If emulation is truly working as advertised and all the Palm OS 5 apps function properly. These represent years of development, ranging from free to inexpensive, and many specialty apps for medicine, real estate, travellers, etc.
      Geedavey
    • Lies.

      The apple haters jumped all over the iphone for its supposedly 'poor'
      battery life, even though it was proven to have the longest lasting
      battery among similar smartphones.
      --
      which one?. My suppossely battery eater nokia n95 last 1-2 hours more than iphone (1g).



      They jumped on the iPhone because it didn't have a 'real' keyboard.
      Click on the link for Andy's review and he explains how a 'real'
      keyboard cannot make up for apple's virtual one.
      --
      OF COURSE NOT. did you test a real keyboard vs the virtual keyboard of a iphone?. i did.

      magallanes