With Microsoft's rather anemic keynote at CES 2009, the show was up in the air for another company to step up to the plate and garner all the attention from the press. Thus, Palm was in a perfect position to steal the show and after following the various live feeds (Scoble's live video kyte feed was the best for a couple minutes) I would have to say that Palm did just that. Andrew was there in the room so check out his live blogging post too. Palm should have had a live feed themselves since most people's live coverage kept dying out. I was quite nervous for Palm and was hoping they weren't going to come out and show a different color Treo Pro. They really needed to show something big or I think we would see Palm fade away into the history books of PDAs. As I watched the coverage I would have to say that Palm did a nice job with their announcements and is back in the game.
The press conference started off with a walk down Palm memory lane. Palm then revealed their new Palm Web OS followed by their new device, the Palm Pre. The Pre is an all touch screen device with the following specs:
- 3.1 inch 320x480 display
- EVDO REV. A (Verizon or Sprint only for now)
- New TI processor with laptop-like performance
- 8GB integrated memory
- 3 megapixel camera with LED flash
- 3.5 mm headset jack
- Slide-out QWERTY keyboard in portrait mode
It looks similar to the rumored mockups we saw, but sleeker and sexier.
The gesture support looks excellent and I am quite pleased with what I am seeing so far, keep it up Palm. Just like the Palm OS, everything you do is save automatically so it makes interacting with the device drop-dead simple. If you have a contact in multiple areas (Google, Outlook, Facebook, etc.) Palm keeps the data separate (as it is naturally), but lets you view it in a central location. Palm is calling this functionality Synergy. The entire OS on the device looks extremely user friendly and it looks like Palm may actually have come out with the "iPhone killer". I have to say again that I was highly skeptical, but am now very excited. I hope it comes to GSM carriers soon or I may just have to drop AT&T and sign up with the Sprint CDMA carrier they are launch on.
Exchange OTA sync is supported (see you later Google Android)! Threaded IM and SMS integration so the conversation stays relevant and continuous. Browser looks sweet and you can open as many "cards" (aka tabs) as you want in the browser. Cool pop-up notifications like what we see on the Google Android are also supported. It sounds like Palm went a long way towards making the new OS developer friendly and open so we should see lots of cool things coming on the platform.
The wireless conductive charger looks very cool too. I had one of these on my MSN Direct Spot watch and it is handy not to have to plug a cable into the device.
What about pricing and availability? Let's see if Sprint's Dan Hesse gives us this information. Dan didn't let us know, but Ed came back and said the first half of 2009 - LAME! Palm would have blown the roof off the house if they made the Pre available now.
Congratulations, Palm! You needed to hit a homerun today to stay relevant in the mobile space and I would have to say you did just that. I can't wait to get my hands on a Pre and am now really disappointed I was unable to make the trip to CES.