Wednesday, May 12, 2010

GADGET REVIEW: Palm Pre (Sprint)

I have had this phone now for nearly a year (!) which is possibly a new record.  I actually figure out something new on it every day.  It's pretty quick, and pretty easy to figure out.  I know a lot of the nerds that have it or want to bash it complain that the app store is not on par with Apple or the Android Market, but it doesn't have to be, it comes standard with a pretty decent array of things and within about 2 weeks the early adopters had already figured out how to create new apps, Homebrew, if you will. 

I know a lot of people love the iPhone, and in some cases use it as the "standard" and compare everything to it. This really to me is not a competitor, honestly there isn't a fair competitor to the iPhone.  It's amassed a RIDICULOUS following and has quite a massive app selection.  Though, how many fart apps do you really need? I am a total Apple person, partly because of what my career path was, and partly because they are simply better.  Ignoring the fact that the iPhone went to the worlds lamest carrier possible, it still wasn't that impressive.  I know the new version is supposedly going to master the multi-tasking concept that the previous 3 versions didn't master.  But that's still not enough. It seems so antiquated in terms of mobile technology. There's very little actual room to customize the phone as a whole, it's so on lock-down.  Other phones, especially the Pre, have been able to do many of these things--multitask especially--for quite some time. It's nice that Jobs caught onto that bandwagon, finally.   Maybe if it was available on Sprint or VZW I would give it another go, but even then I think it's still not of interest to me.  Now if it could run a pretty full CreativeSuite, and let you hook up a mouse and keyboard, THAT would lure me in! 

The Pre's operating system, WebOS,  is completely new and was built from scratch specifically for this new line of phones. I liked PalmOS but this new OS is pretty remarkable.  Multitasking alone is impressive enough. But having a full web browser, and with Flash Mobile being developed for this device specifically is amazing.  The applications flow so smoothly when opening, the OS moves very swiftly and the ability to have one "card" (kind of like a window of it's own) open to the web, one to email, one to texts, and one to a movie..and still function just fine with minimal lag is where this shines.   With the buyout of Palm I am hopeful that it still gets developed and at the same rate it has been to now.  WinMo needs to die in the face (100 times, because 2 isn't enough), so hopefully HP won't ruin a great and very stable environment with that hooey crap.

One of the coolest features of this OS is that it is completely customizable. There are several developers out there who figured out how to get it into Developer Mode (by figuring out that it just needed konami code to unleash) and they were "rooting" it, and overwriting all sorts of standard fare.  I never got too much into that, I just waited til they figured out how to create software that does it pretty simply.   Two I like are WebOS Quick Install, and Preware. Usually need the first to get the second on, but when you get the 2nd on, oh baby hold on to your junk. I have changed "themes", icon arrangements, "launcher" arrangements, all in the name of streamlining it.  

They heavily touted the whole synergy angle where it takes all your contacts from places like Gmail/Google and Facebook and kind of amalgamates them into your phone book. The plus to that, is that you can bang out a little message to someone you might regularly chat with on FB, but don't normally email, which bypasses the need to log in to FB (the app still sucks, btw)  to say something to them. The biggest con so far is that if it's someone you don't really intend to have much conversation with outside of FB (or don't want on your phone) you can't really remove them from your contacts on the phone or they get deleted off your FB list.  Not the best planning there. But I guess there's not much way to work around that, short of having an option in FB to turn that feature off for certain people...hey wait that would be way awesome! Hey FB people--do that!

As far as the hardware itself is concerned, it's not totally flimsy but could definitely use a little more...oomph shall we say. There is a bit of give to it, considering it's a slider phone.  The keyboard for me is fine, but I know my husband would be hard-pressed (get it?!) to successfully bang out a text or email on this thing.  I have added a "virtual keyboard" but I cannot think of a time where I even once used it, so I might can that.  I have installed one of those Phantom Skin things on it, mostly in the name of safety for my screen. But I also found a pretty cool little hard case that works with the slider, made by Seidio, it's the Innocase Surface.  It's not the best in terms of quality, but it's held up OK.  The only real problem are the little "tab" things that hold it onto the phone. They are SO easy to break. And then it's only a matter of time before it's toast.

Probably the single coolest hardware related thing about this phone is the charging system. The Touchstone is a little block lookin' thing that is magnetic, and when you buy the touchstone, it comes with a new "back" for the phone which allows the phone to rest on the stone and charge. It's very convenient and doesn't risk the damage to the charging port that some phones develop over time. It displays the time while it's charging and at night that's really too much light, so I throw black underwear over it to block it. The only really negative thing about this type of charging is that it is very easy to wear the battery out. I had mine swapped out at Sprint (no charge!) about two weeks ago, and the discharge of battery power is better again.

I almost forgot this: This phone is also a USB drive with up to 8GB of space (the "plus" versions on ATT and VZW have more space I believe, 16GB perhaps?) and you can just connect to your computer, to move music (iTunes purchases do work!), photos, movies (iTunes movies do NOT work), back and forth.  

All in all, I am pretty happy with it, and while I will likely be trading up again in a few months, there will have to be one hell of competitor for me to immediately jump on something new.  The new 4G phones are coming out and those might be what grab me. 

The Palm Pre and Pre Plus are out now on Sprint, Verizon and will soon be available in GSM versions for ATT (the debil).


  1. I love your blog.

    I am still dying over this one:

    "It displays the time while it's charging and at night that's really too much light, so I throw black underwear over it to block it." You have me sold on the Pre...I need to force the hubs into getting it. :P I actually think the Touchstone is brilliant! My HTC charger has wires popping out already. WTF!

    Still laughing by the way!

  2. haha yea I am practical. MacGuyver-like.

    My Centro's port just needed to have a wire put back out because the charger plug wouldn't stay in. But a wire popping out? That's not a good thing, that phone isn't old enough for that to be happening.

    Aren't you guys going this weekend?!!! I think he needs to play with the pre...yeaaaa.


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