Palm Pre Review | webOS Nation
 
 

Palm Pre Review 174

by Dieter Bohn Sun, 12 Jul 2009 3:16 pm EDT

palm pre open in hand

The Palm Pre is an all-new smartphone designed from the ground-up to work with the web. It's currently a Sprint-exclusive priced at $199 after mail-in rebate. It runs an all-new operating system called "webOS" that is based on linux and sports innovative features like Synergy for syncing and multitasking "cards" to quickly switch between tasks. The Pre itself is incredibly small yet has a large touchscreen and a slide-down keyboard. Quite simply, it's incredible.

We're covering the Palm Pre from all angles here at PreCentral.net. What you're reading now is our full, unabridged review of the Palm Pre. We also have have links to Palm Pre photo galleries and 12 video reviews of the Pre in our sidebar.

New to Pre? Check out our Comprehensive Palm Pre Guide!

Read on for our massive review!

Palm Pre Review: jump to a Section

We'll begin by including our general overview of the Palm Pre in Video.

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Palm Pre Hardware

See our Palm Hardware Review and Device Comparison Video

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The first thing you need to know about the Palm Pre is that it feels incredibly good in the hand. It's a relatively small 2.3" x 3.9" x 0.67", but the dimensions do little to tell the story. When the Pre is closed there aren't any sharp angles anywhere on the Pre. Palm says that they were inspired by a 'riverstone' and indeed that's an apt description. It feels positively organic in the hand (helped, no doubt, by the common propensity to get a little warm as it gets used).

Although the Pre is made of glossy plastic, it does not feel especially cheap or plasticky. The Pre's plastic both on the back and the screen do indeed show fingerprints, but not as egregiously as the iPhone's screen seems to. The plastic is also tough as nails. I didn't go so far as to take steel wool to the device, but I've been awfully cavalier about throwing it in my pocket with keys and skittering it around my desk and there's nary a scratch to be found.

palm pre bottom straight palm pre front closed screen on

The second thing you need to know about the Palm Pre is that is has a 3.1" 320x480 capacitive touchscreen. The 'capacitive' part means that the Pre responds to your finger instead of requiring a stylus. The 320x480 part means that the Pre has lots of pixels (as many as the iPhone) for displaying web pages, videos, and more. The 3.1" part means that the screen is somewhat small but packs enough pixels-per-inch to make everything sharp and crisp.

The natural comparison for the screen is the iPhone, and I'd say it's a tie. The iPhone has the same resolution, but it has a glass screen and the screen itself is larger at 3.6" diagonally. That larger size does make fonts larger in most cases, but it comes at the expense of the sharpness you see on the Pre. Despite the fact that the Pre has a plastic screen, it feels very responsive and even gives you a small (software-based, don't panic) 'ripple' when you tap so you can see what you just hit.

Keyboard

palm pre keyboard palm pre keyboard

The third thing you need to know about the Pre is that it has a slide-down full QWERTY physical keyboard. For those that are familiar with the Palm Centro or Treo Pro, this keyboard will feel very familiar. The keys have a 'rubberized' feel to them rather than being hard. This makes it a little easier to type on (especially if you have fingernails), but the keys are placed fairly close together. The top row of keys is also placed fairly close to the bottom edge of the Pre's slide, so they can be a little difficult to hit.

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I've been using QWERTY keyboards on phones for over seven years now and I had no problem adjusting to the Palm Pre. If you're looking for a comparison, I'll say that it's not as good as your standard BlackBerry keyboard, but for 90% of people it's going to be much better than the iPhone's on-screen software keyboard. I know the keyboard is a big X factor for a lot of people, so the best I can say is that you not only need to try it for yourself, but you need to give it at least a couple of days of use before you turn in your verdict. I have no problems jamming away at it at high speed. I can clock in at 40-45 words per minute at http://mobiletypingtest.com.

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The slide action on the Pre feels solid and definitely spring-loaded. There's 'snick-click' to it that could only be more satisfying if the Pre answered a call by sliding open and hung up by sliding closed. Please give us this option, Palm. The other nice thing about this sliding action is that you don't see any of the springy doo-dads when it's open. Instead on the inside there's simply a nice mirror surface (perfect for self portraits) with the Sprint logo scurried away on it.

Other Hardware Specs

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The Pre uses Sprint's 3G EVDO Rev A network, so downloads are fast and snappy and call quality is quite good -- as long as you're in an area with good Sprint coverage. Reception for the Palm Pre is very good -- much better than the several other Sprint smartphones (including a Treo 800w, Sprint Touch Diamond, and Samsung Ace) that I've tested.

palm pre browser palm pre browser

There's also an accelerometer that doesn't get much use beyond the browser and an proximity detector to prevent face-tapping the touchscreen. In addition to the 3G radio, the Pre also has WiFi and Bluetooth. Both can be toggled on and off from anywhere by simply tapping the upper-right of the screen. Bluetooth also supports A2DP Bluetooth Stereo and so far in my testing Bluetooth sound quality and range are as good as any other phone I've used.

palm pre amazonstore

Finally, the Pre has 8 gigs of on-board storage in lieu of a microSD memory expansion slot. This is disappointing for some and a boon for others, depending on your point of view. The nice thing is that when you plug your Palm Pre into your computer it offers to do one of three things:

  • Media Sync
  • USB Drive
  • Just Charge

...Selecting Media Sync causes the Pre to act just like an iPod: showing up in iTunes so you can sync your music, photos, and movies (more on this below).

 

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As we have all come to expect from Palm products, the Pre has a 'Ringer Switch' on the top that allows you to instantly silence most sounds. Unlike previous Treos from Palm, the Pre's silent switch still allows music and movies to come through the speaker, but it does turn off all other sounds. Next to the ringer switch is the power button that does its job turning the screen on and off and also bringing up a dialog for airplane mode when you hold it down. It is a little hard to press when the slider is open, though.

palm pre rear top

The Pre also has a 3.2 megapixel camera and a flash. The camera takes pictures incredibly quickly and has some innovative 'depth of field' features hidden underneath. Picture quality is quite good. Unfortunately, the Palm Pre cannot record video.

Next to the camera and flash on the rear of the phone is the speaker -- sound quality  on th speaker is slightly above average for smartphones.  Volume is louder than the iPhone but not by much - which is another way of saying it's too quiet.

The Pre also has GPS and comes with Google Maps and Sprint Navigation both included for free. GPS acquisition time is off the charts - it picks up satellites in under a minute for me, every time.

Charging and Battery Life

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The Pre charges via MicroUSB behind a fiddly little door on the righthand side. I understand the desire to keep the Pre's lines clean (and I also understand the desire to sell more of the wireless charging Touchstone docks), but the door feels a bit flimsy to me.

Finally, the Palm Pre has a removable battery that clocks in at 1150mAh. The battery is just barely enough to get me through a full day of moderate use, but with anything more than that I find I need to top the battery off or replace it.

With heavy use -- which for me means WiFi on, Bluetooth on and connected, around an hour of music listening, around a half hour of GPS, going to email at least three times an hour, web browsing at least twice an hour, and working with the other apps on a regular basis -- the Pre managed to hit the four mark before alerting me that the battery was low. Palm says that one issue with the battery is a bug in the Instant Messaging protocol which they're working on, so if you're getting a v1 Pre, you'll probably want to leave yourself signed out to maximize battery life.

It also helps that it's easy to toggle WiFi and Bluetooh from anywhere in the Pre with just two taps, so leaving those off until you need them is also a good idea. I refuse to throttle Gmail back from "As Items Arrive" to "Every Half Hour," however -- push Gmail is just too good to let go. More on that below.

Another quick note on the battery - you'll note that it's identical in size, shape, and capacity as the Centro battery. Palm, however, doesn't recommend you use a Centro battery in the Palm Pre, officially they say "There are important electrical and mechanical differences that mean that you can't use a Centro battery in Pre."

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Pre as a Phone

As I mentioned above, the Palm Pre seems to get very good reception on Sprint's network. Call quality was very clear and the speakerphone -- while it could have stood be be a little louder -- was acceptable.

palm pre phone palm pre phone

One thing you'll find is that the Phone app on the Palm Pre is sub-par. You can dial numbers straight and also set a preference to use the keyboard to search by name (it's not set by default!), but the call history view only shows a few of your recent calls. There is no 'favorites' screen that I can find for your speed dials -- although you can add contacts directly to the Launcher (see below).

You can also set one-key speed dials to contacts -- i.e. when in card view or in the phone app you can hold down 'z' to call a certain person. That's a nice feature (I wish you could assign these to apps as you can with the PalmOS), but it requires you to remember which letter you've assigned to which contact.

The pain of this isn't too great for me, however, because I haven't really utilized speed dial/favorites for contacts in years. I always just 'type to find' the people I want to contact -- it's a few more button presses, perhaps, but on the Pre with Universal Search (see below) it works anywhere and doesn't require any thought.

palm pre phone palm pre phone

In-call, the Pre's touchscreen doesn't seem to do any 'face-presses' when I hold it up to my cheek. The in-call screen is intuitive -- with a speakerphone button, a mute button, a button to toggle between the contact photo and the keypad, and a button to add a call for conferencing. There's also a big hang-up button, naturally.

As you may have heard, there is no visual voicemail on the Pre. Neither are there the "VCR-style voicemail buttons" that Palm has put on some of their Treo products.

One last word on Sprint: I'm still a fan of the network despite their abhorrent customer service (though it's improved of late) and their relatively spotty coverage in my rural neighborhood. You simply can't find another carrier with unlimited data and messaging plans that are as cheap as what you can get on Sprint.

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webOS Overview

There's quite a lot to say about webOS, Palm's all-new operating system for the Palm Pre. It's based on linux, but unlike the linux-based Android operating system, webOS feel much more polished overall.

Although it's based on a linux core, the heart and soul of webOS is the web (as you might suspect from the name). It uses web-based technologies like HTML5, AJAX, and Javascript for nearly all of its applications. The reason this is important is that it means 3rd party developers can quickly and easily create a wide range of applications. It also means that apps can resize as necessary when notifications come in (more on that in a little bit).

palm pre tasks

The central User Interface metaphor in webOS is 'Cards.' Each application in the Pre gets run in its own 'card' that acts much like a window would on your desktop. Since the webOS multitasks, you are able to have many cards open at once -- including multiple cards for web browsing, email, email drafts, music, navigation, and so on. Cards stay fully live in the background so you don't need to wait for web pages to refresh when you go back to them. This also means that -- unlike the iPhone -- you can have a 3rd party music application like Pandora playing at the same time you're using Sprint's Navigation app to get driving directions.

A note on speed and stability: both are pretty good on the Pre. At first I thought perhaps things felt a little sluggish, but then I realized that the Pre was working hard syncing my accounts up. Once that was finished, the pause when opening apps was fairly minimal, though it did grow longer as I had more cards open. I have yet to see a serious crash, but I do have to point out that there are probably some memory leaks that haven't been pinned down.

After a reset I'm able to have over a dozen different cards open with no problem, but every now and then things start to grind a bit. I even once got an alert that I could open more cards despite the fact that no cards were even open! That's not enough to make me panic, though, as it only happened after three days of intensive testing and use without turning off the phone. A reset would fix this, but actually all I needed to do was let the Pre sit for a few seconds and it recovered fine, allowing me to go back to my dozens-of-cards usage.

Bottom line: the Pre could stand to be faster, especially when it comes to opening new applications. Given how ridiculously powerful the TI OMAP processor inside the Pre is, I'm hoping Palm can fix the software bugs here and push out updates soon.

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Card View & Multitasking

The Pre has a single button on the front -- the 'Center button.' Hitting this button takes you into 'Card View,' which allows you to swipe left and right between your open cards and then tap on one to enter it. It's very quick and works rather well.

palm pre calendar palm pre browser

You can also hold your finger down on a card and then drag it left or right to reposition it next to another card, i.e. placing an email draft next to the web page you're researching.

Finally, within Card View you can simply swipe up on any card to get rid of it -- to essentially close the app. There are no save or close dialog boxes in webOS. Everything is saved automatically.

What I'm working towards saying here is that webOS has the single most intuitive multitasking setup I've ever used on a smartphone (and I've used nearly all of them). It's not enough for a smartphone to simply multitask (although it's enough for it to beat the iPhone in that department), a smartphone today needs to multitask in a way that's easy to understand to all users.

With Card View, webOS has in one fell swoop made multitasking intuitive and understandable to any user after only a couple of minutes of use. You can tell immediately what apps you have open, choose which apps to close, and navigate between apps quickly and easily. If you have to many cards open, the Pre simply pops up an alert letting you know you need to close some before you continue.

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Gestures

See our Palm Pre Setup and Gestures Video

The Palm Pre uses several gestures in order to navigate within and between cards. There is a short demo when you start it up, but it's worth walking through them in some detail.

Scrolling

Scrolling is done just as it is on the iPhone and the G1: flick to scroll or drag to scroll slowly. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to jump to the very top or very bottom of a screen, meaning that in certain cases you're in for a lot of flicking. There also isn't any 'scroll bar' or 'scroll indicator' letting you know where on a screen you happen to be.

But bollocks to all of that: touch scrolling on the Pre is fast and smooth as butter.

Swipe to Unlock

The Palm Pre's lock screen has a 'Swipe to unlock' feature that's similar to what you've seen on the iPhone, but better. Instead of a horizontal slider, there's simply a lock button. You grab it and slide it up and out of a semi-circle to unlock the screen (alternately, you can just slide down the keyboard to unlock). This makes it very convenient for both left and right-handed people.

You can also put a PIN or password on the lock screen as well as choose whether or not you want your notifications to appear there.

Swipe Up

The core gesture of the Palm Pre is the 'Swipe up,' where you swipe from just underneath the screen all the way to the top. If you're looking at an app, this will take you to Card View. If you're in Card View, a second swipe up will take you to the launcher.

There's a great visual indicator around the center button when you've successfully completed a swipe-up gesture - the button lights up as do two smaller lights on either side of it.

Back Gesture

In addition to gestures on the touchscreen itself, the Pre's touch-sensitive zone actually extends below the screen. Here is where you can swipe to go 'back.' To do it, you just swipe halfway across the bottom of the screen on either the left or the right side -- in other words, it's good for lefties and righties. There is a very nice visual indicator next to the center button when you've completed a back gesture.

One quick hint - the back gesture can work all the way down to the center button, but it works best when you touch just below the screen to make the gesture.

Now long-time smartphone users may know that 'Back' means different things to different platforms. On the Palm Pre I find back to be fairly intuitive - it never dumps you out of the app you were just in and into another app, leaving you feeling lost. Instead it simply goes back a level within whatever app you're using (or, in the browser, it goes back in you history for that card). If you think of it as 'up in this app's hierarchy' as much as 'back' you'll get the swing of when you should use it fairly quickly. You'll know you're at the top of the hierarchy when the back gesture brings you into Card View.

Swipe Across

If you head into the Screen and Lock preferences on the Pre, there is a toggle switch for Advanced Gestures: Switch Applications. Togging this on (it's off by default) enables the full swipe across gesture. Now if you swipe across the entire bottom of the screen you'll switch from whatever card you're looking at the adjacent card.

A successful swipe across also has a visual indicator of success -- the lights adjacent to the center button light up one after the other.

Half-Swipe Up, Launch-wave

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The last gesture you need to know is the half-swipe-up. Like the full swipe, you begin this gesture underneath the screen. Instead of swiping all the way to the top, however, you swipe halfway up to get the 'Launch Wave.' This is a set of your 4 favorite applications (plus a shortcut to the Launcher).

The Launch-wave is great because it gives you one-touch, immediate access to four of your most important apps without requiring you to delve into the Launcher or Universal Search to find them. It's part of Palm's history of offering one-touch access to their core applications and it works quite well here.

Cut and Paste

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Did I mention that the Pre supports cut and paste? It does, but unfortunately it only works on 'editable' text fields. You cannot select text from a web page or email -- though if you reply or forward the email the text then becomes 'editable' so you can select it. Hopefully Palm will take their system for selecting text and apply it to non-editable text in an update.

To select text, you simply hold down the shift key and then drag anywhere on the screen to slide the selection bar. It's really convenient because you don't have to cover the text with you finger to see what you're selecting. As a side note, you can also hold down the Orange key to put the cursor into a 'positioning' mode, which means you get a cursor which you can move by, again, dragging your finger anywhere on the screen.

It's not the most intuitive cut and paste solution out there, perhaps, but it works quite well. Even better, there are keyboard shortcuts for it. Rather than forcing you to try to hold down Orange + C (which are very close together), you can simply set your finger on the Gesture area as an 'alt' and then hit C or V to copy or paste.

This is as good a spot as any to point out that when you have Shift or Orange selected or double-tapped to lock caps or numbers, there is a tiny little indicator right underneath the cursor where you're typing. Nice.

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Launcher & Preferences

Launcher

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The Launcher is, of course, where you can find icons for all of your applications and preferences. It consists of three -- and only three - screens that you swipe horizontally to page through. Each screen can hold as many apps as you'd like, you simply scroll down to find more. Each screen also remembers its 'scroll state,' so if you were at the bottom of a screen the last time you saw it, you'll go to the bottom again. There are little white lines at the bottom of the screen to indicate which page you're on.

The Launcher does look quite nice with its semi-transparent background -- you can access it from anywhere with two swipe-up gestures or (more conveniently) a half-swipe up and to the right to hit the Launcher icon on the Launch wave. You can rearrange icons within the launcher simply by holding your finger down on an icon and then dragging it to your desired location.

The Launcher is also where you delete applications. You hold down the orange key and then tap on an icon and a dialog box will pop up allowing you to delete the app.

However, the limited number of screens and the lack of traditional PalmOS categories significantly hampers this launcher. It quickly becomes a bit of a hassle to find the app you're looking for. After a couple days use I found the only thing to do was put my top apps on the 1st screen and use the launcher for those -- everything else I just used Universal Search to find (see below).

It's especially aggravating because Palm got the launcher right in the PalmOS -- there were customizable categories and an 'all' category for all your apps. Add in the fact that there isn't a single 'Settings' app but instead separate icons for each kind of 'preference' and you really start to feel cluttered. Then add in the fact that you can put contact thumbnail speed dials and web page shortcuts and it just becomes a mess.

Trust me on this: the Launch does OK for your top 9 apps (that aren't on the Launch Wave). Put those on the first screen. Throw everything else on the 2nd and 3rd screen and then use Universal Search to find them.

Hopefully Palm will either add more Launcher screens or Launcher categories in the near future.

Preferences

See our Palm Pre Preferences Video Review

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Preferences on the Palm Pre appear in a couple of different places. Your general system preferences are there in the Launcher as discrete applications. I'd really prefer that Palm saved some Launcher real estate and put them all into a single Settings app. Specific settings for each individual app are found under the menu for that app.

There are preferences for the following:

  • Sounds & Ringtones. Sadly, you cannot set the sounds on most alerts like email and SMS, these are all set to default sounds. Hopefully Palm will allow customization of this soon.
  • Screen & Lock
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • Location Services
  • Device Info. This is where you find your reset options
  • Date & Time
  • Updates
  • Backup
  • Language

...we covered the different preferences extensively in the video linked above. Note the lack of an "Accounts" or "Synergy" preference app, which I'll discuss below.

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Synergy

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"Synergy" is Palm's name for the other big, innovative feature of the Palm Pre. The Pre is designed to live 'in the cloud' (where by 'cloud' I mean the internet) instead of needing to be tethered to your computer to sync. Instead of hooking your phone up to the computer via USB, the Pre pulls down all of your key data directly from the internet. Synergy works with Contacts, Calendars, Email, and Tasks (but tasks only work with Exchange).

Essentially, here's how it works. You can set the Pre up with up to 8 different accounts to pull data from. As of this writing, the Pre can pull data from:

  • Google & Gmail
  • Exchange
  • Facebook
  • AIM buddy list
  • Palm Profile

When you plug in your account credentials for any of the above inside Contacts or Calendar, the Pre automatically begins importing all of the information from that service into your Pre. Once it's finished its initial sync, it then automatically checks each source every 15 minutes for changes and then updates the information on your Pre.

Synergy is very smart about how it handles all of the data it downloads. Data from all of your sources is displayed together, but behind the scenes they never mix. This means that you won't get stuck with duplicate contacts, for example. Instead, what the Pre does is 'link' any contacts it thinks are the same person (i.e. everybody named 'Joe Schmo') and displays that person as one contact. If you see a profile picture 'stacked,' then you know that that person's contact info is being pulled from multiple sources.

Even better, you can set one of those sources as 'primary.' I set mine to Facebook for most people because then if that person updates their default profile picture, that's the picture that appears when they call me. It's neat.

Calendars work in a similar way, but instead of combining events the Calendar app just displays all of your calendars with multiple colors in a very clever way.

In all, I am a big fan of Synergy with one (major) caveat: how it pulls from Google. Google has two different kinds of Sync that it offers: 'All Contacts' and 'My Contacts.' 'All Contacts' includes all the contacts you've manually added to Google and pretty much everybody you've ever emailed. The result is that the contacts list (and the contacts app on the Pre) quickly becomes an unwieldy mess of a ginormous number of people. It doesn't bother me too much because I'm such a proponent of 'type-to-find' and Universal Search that I never really scroll through contacts anyway, but I can see how it would get on a lot of people's nerves.

I've beena Gmail user for several years -- I have Synergy linked to two Google accounts, a Facebook account, and an Exchange account. Doing twenty flick-scroll gestures gets me down to the 'Js' in my address book. Type to find definitely a necessity with the Pre.

With Synergy, you can set a default account that new contacts and calendars will be placed in, but you can always switch any given appointment or contact to get synced to another.

One last note on Synergy - in order to set up an account you need to go into Contacts or Calendar. There is no "Synergy app" or "Accounts" app, which I find to be a bit of a failure. I'd like there to a be a single place where I can manage all my Synergy sources and pick which types of information gets synced.

What about Sync??

For those that aren't already using one of the above services, you have a few options.

  1. Start using Google or Exchange and export all your data into one of those services
  2. Use Palm's Migration Assistant to export all of your data to your Palm Profile and have it sync from there
  3. Use a 3rd party program like PocketMirror (available near launch) (Corrected) from Chapura (available at launch) to Sync directly to your computer over WiFi.

Of the three options, 1 is what I try to recommend to people - life really is better in the cloud. For those concerned with security, however, you will want to invest the money to purchase PocketMirror so your data only lives where you want it to.

Palm Profile

You'll see I mentioned a 'Palm Profile' above. This is a new service from Palm. It allows you to back up much of your Pre's data to their servers to be restored if they're ever needed. (It restores all your accounts and downloaded apps, but I found it didn't remember where I'd placed those apps in the Launcher).

Additionally, you can use the Palm Profile to remotely wipe your Palm Pre if need be. You really need to use the Palm Profile if you want to get the most out of your Pre -- without it you won't receive automatic software updates or even be able to access the 3rd party software in the App Catalog.

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Core Personal Information Apps

See our Palm Pre PIM Apps Video Review

In the past, I've gone after the iPhone for not doing the "Four Pillars of PIM" (personal information management) properly. PIM is something that Palm got exactly right back in the mid 90's with the original Pilot. Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Memos. These are the essential apps for managing your life with a personal digital assistant. So the question is: Did Palm get them right with the Pre?

...Mostly.

Contacts

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With the above caveat that Synergy just puts way too many contacts from Google into the Contacts app, the Contacts application on the Pre is rock solid. You can see photos of your contacts in the main listing on the right and see if they're stacked to know if there are multiple sources for that contact. You can type-to-find contacts quickly and easily. Setting up Contacts with Synergy is a snap, too.

There are essentially two views for each contact -- a standard view that integrates the different duplicate information from different contacts so you just see the information you need (though I'll note that it does a fairly poor job of recognizing duplicate physical addresses since the format for these are different on different sources). Somewhat un-intuitively, it's on this view where you can tap the contact's photo to bring up a list of all the sources and link it to other contact entries that Synergy may have missed (I think this belongs in the Edit mode). This is also where you set the 'Primary Profile' that sets the default photo and contact info.

You can tap on any field in this view mode to go to the appropriate app - calling, SMS, IM, Google Maps, Email, etc.

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The other mode is the Edit mode, which gives you a gigantic list of everything you can enter for a contact and the option to link each piece of data to the appropriate source. Additionally, there are some nice extra fields beyond your standard email, phone, IM, and address fields:

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  • Reminder. This lets you set a reminder that pops up in the notification area whenever you receive any message from that person
  • Note. You can apply multiple notes to any contact
  • URL. You can assign URLs to contacts - i.e. their homepage
  • Birthday
  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Birthday
  • Nickname

It's worth noting again: I'm really fond of the Facebook integration here. I love that the default photo changes when a friend changes their picture in Facebook.

Calendar

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The Calendar app is where the Palm Pre really shines. Each source displays its calendars (if there are multiple ones) in a different color that you can configure in the preferences. You can set a default calendar for new appointments, but you can also still set the source for any given appointment.

The default day view does a great job displaying appointments, though I do wish it managed to have more than 7 hours displayed at a time. Overlapping appointments are handled with aplomb. You can also tap a button in the upper right and set your view to only look at a specific calendar. When you do, the other calendars become gray bars (so you know you're still busy), allowing you to focus on the specific set of appointments from that source.

The day view also has an 'accordion,' for free time. If there is more than two hours free between two appointments, webOS automatically collapses that time so you can see your appointments with less scrolling. You just tap the free time button to expand the accordion to enter an appointment into that free space.

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The week and month views also work quite well once you get a feel for which color applies to which calendar. I do wish there were a 'list view' that just listed all of your upcoming appointments in a simple text list.

Creating an appointment can happen either via the menu or by simply tapping on an open spot in your calendar. You can just type and hit enter to have it be a default appointment or you can go into the full appointment view to edit it.

palm pre sprintnavigation palm pre calendar

In the full appointment view you can set the calendar you want to sync the appointment to, choose time (or all day), choose an event location, set your repeat options (including some decent custom options), change the alert settings, and add Event notes.

Preferences for Calendar let you set your standard workday, default notification, and so on.

Tasks

palm pre tasks palm pre phone palm pre tasks

The Tasks app on the Pre is fair-to-middlin'. The look of the app itself is quite professional, I like it a lot. You can create multiple ToDo lists on the main page of Tasks and also take a look at all your tasks in one big list. ToDo lists with overdue tasks are put in bold and the number of tasks that have due dates is also listed on the main page

Within a ToDo list, you can quickly and easily add tasks and also filter your view between All, Remaining, and Completed. Adding a task is a simple affair - just tap the add button. As with the Calendar, you can drill into the details for a given task to add more options - priority, assigning to a different ToDo list, due date, and notes. To delete a task, you can just swipe to the right to delete it.

Tasks will sync with Exchange servers but that's it, there's no support yet for syncing to Google's (admittedly very very new) tasks functionality.

palm pre tasks

One interesting note: in Tasks you can just start typing to filter through the screen you're looking at. If you're on the ToDo summary screen, it auto-filters down there. If you're on the Task listing page, it filters that. It's a nice option but it makes me wonder: if it works within the Tasks app, why on earth isn't it exposed to Universal Search?

Memos

palm pre notes palm pre notes

I'm sad to say it, but the Memos app on the Palm Pre is sub-par. It does not sync to Exchange. There are no categories. There doesn't appear to be any good way to import memos. It's very pretty and useful for short notes, but beyond that you're going to want something more robust. Don't think of this as a Memos app, think of it as a Post-it Notes app.

palm pre notes palm pre notes

All that said, once you've adjusted your expectations to it being a Post-it Notes app, it's a pretty good app for that purpose. You can create a new note by tapping the new note pad in the upper-left. You can set the color of a note by tapping the curl on the lower-right of a given note. You can re-arrange notes by holding your finger down on a note and moving it around.

There doesn't appear to be any limit to the number of notes you can create and although I haven't tested it, the infamous PalmOS memory limit probably isn't in effect here ;)

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Notifications

palm pre SANY0011

Notifications are another of the incredibly cool features on the Palm Pre. The short version is this: they get your attention without ever getting in your way. At the bottom of the Palm Pre is a 'notification area' and that's where all your email, calendar, SMS, IM, and other alerts go. They pop up down there with a quick one-line preview and then shift to a row of icons on the right. Heck, even incoming calls appear down there.

What's great about this system is that these notifications never ever ever interrupt the card you're currently using. It always stays live and you never have to dismiss a notification to keep working. They just unobtrusively pop up, then stack up.

Some notifications do appear larger than others (like calendar alerts), but you can snooze them or dismiss them and even with these they don't interrupt your current card. Since webOS apps are all based on HTML, they all pretty much resize to accommodate the expanded notifications area with no issues.

When it does come time for you to deal with the incoming notifications, you simply tap on the notifications area and it expands into a list of all your notifications. You can dismiss them in a way that's very similar to the card system -- you just swipe them to the right and away it goes. Of course, if you want to actually do something about your notification, you can tap on it and it will launch the appropriate application.

Back to top

Universal Search

palm pre notes palm pre notes

Universal Search on the Palm Pre is really grand, but it leaves me wanting more. The basic idea is this: from within card view or on the home screen with nothing open, you just start typing to find what you want. Want to open an application, type "memo" and the Pre will automatically find all the matches on the device.

In practice, it's really great. If I want to call Joseph, I just start typing his name. If I want to find out more about Joseph of Arimathea, I just type that out and the Pre recognizes there isn't an app or contact of that name and gives me the option to search Google, Wikipedia, Google Maps, and Twitter.

Right now, Universal Search has the ability to search through:

  • Contacts
  • Applications

...and that's the bummer of it. Granted, those are the two most important things, but I wish that Universal search did much more. You can search within the Tasks and Memos app, why not include that in Universal search? Why not include email, or calendars? I'm not sure what's holding Universal Search from being able to truly be 'Universal,' but whatever it is I hope Palm rectifies it soon. This is coming on iPhone 3.0, guys, get on it.

Despite these shortcomings, Universal Search really is one of my favorite features of the Pre.

Back to top

Web Browsing

See our Palm Pre Browser Video Review and iPhone 3G, G1 Showdown

palm pre browser palm pre browser

The Palm Pre web browser is wonderful. It ought to be, web technologies power the entire webOS, so the browser needs to be fast and powerful. It is both of those things.

Like the iPhone, the T-Mobile G1, and various Nokia smartphones, the Pre's browser is based on the Webkit rendering engine. What this means to you is that it renders full web pages quickly and accurately.

In my tests the Palm Pre beats out both the iPhone and the G1 in download and rendering time. I've yet to come across a page that doesn't render exactly as I would expect it to on the desktop. Part of its speed seems to come from really great javascript -- often on smartphones pages will load and then hang when it comes time to process all the scripts on a given page. The Pre does this too, but that last little bit when you're waiting for the progress bar is much shorter.

Beyond speed and accuracy, the web browser has multi-touch features. You can double-tap to intelligently zoom in on a section or you can pinch-out to zoom in manually. When you're interacting with a page, the UI is minimal - limited to just a stop/refresh button and back/forward buttons as necessary.

palm pre browser

The URL bar at the top allows you to punch in a URL or just type in Google or Wikipedia search terms. Even better, you don't need to scroll to the top of a web page to access it, just start typing.

palm pre browser

The browser auto-rotates into landscape mode -- and one clever feature is that when you're in landscape more the gesture area switches to a page-down area - instead of a back gesture you can use it to page down without putting your thumb over the screen.

The menu reveals a plethora of options, adding bookmarks, adding a page to the Launcher (where Universal Search can see it), Share (which emails a link and a thumbnail of the page), preferences, and history. You can also tap 'new card' to open up a new browser card here, but I find it much more convenient to just put the Web app in my Launch Wave and use that to open new cards.

palm pre browser palm pre amazonstore palm pre browser

Even better, cards open in the background are live and don't need to be refreshed when you go back to them -- unlike tabs on the iPhone that you haven't visited in some time, which need to be refreshed.

I do have to point out, however, that the browser doesn't support flash yet -- that will come later in the year. Unfortunately, when there's a YouTube video embedded in the page, the browser also doesn't give you an automatic shortcut to view it in the YouTube app.

Put all that aside, though. This is the best mobile browser I've ever used.

Back to top

Email

See our Palm Pre Email Video Review

palm pre email palm pre email

Email on the Pre is impressive, but a little slow for true email hounds. You can pull in email from Exchange, Gmail, or any IMAP or POP3 account. With Exchange, Gmail, and any IMAP account that supports IDLE (chances are yours does), you can set the Pre do to Push email. That's right - the Palm Pre does Push Gmail. The default setting is to fetch email every 15 minutes, however.

palm pre email

The home email screen is fairly straightforward. There is a unified inbox at the top and then the

174 Comments

WOOT!

"You're reading this at PreCentral.net, so you have a reasonable expectation that we're going to give the Pre high marks.

I'm not going to attach a star rating here, but I will say this: Palm has hit a home run with the Pre. Probably not a grand slam, but a definite home run."

- why I love precentral.net!

Hear, hear.

Great review, Dieter. I can't wait for Saturday! (Especially after wrestling with Gmail on my Treo 680 today...I become more and more impatient.)

You ROCK! Keep on telling them too!

Hi,

I am 72 with a palm 755p and a sucker for tech even though I don't need all the stuff on the pre. I am buying this damn thing because of the camera.. I held a non-working pre in my hand today..felt pretty nice. However, shiny and slippery..hope we can get some kind of silicone case..I am on upgrade, $220 for me, new customers $199.00. (that's BS)

Newbies get a better deal than the loyal customer..as my kids would say WTF.

They know it is gonna be populated that much. Well, maybe it won

Thanks for the review. I am looking to buy one too. Now let's talk about the listd market price

I have never used Palm before. It seems to be great with the hi-tech features and reasonable price. Boxchan.com - daily articles about SEO, Business, Health, Weight Loss, Beauty, Medical, Diseases and Disorders, Affiliate Marketing, Online Business, Entrepreneurs, Finance, Computer, Internet...

I think it is better to save money for the next version rather than buying this one. It is fifty-fifty. Getlinkrapidshare

Good luck for the winer. It must be worth the effort and marketing work so far. Hope it is not for temporary only

Man, that review was epic. Great work!

Lol, epic is the perfect word my man!!! Great video!!!

yeaaaaahhhhh go cards!

Synergy too!

Has this series been launched now? I wanna see the real unit

This site is amazing. Dieter you have one of the best jobs ever. Great job

WOW. So much goodness, so little time left to wait! Thanks guys!

Wow, very comprehensive and enlightening. Thanks for taking your time and being so objective. One question: I the layout of the battery compartment condusive to using an extended (oversized) battery like we do on the Treo's? I'm planning to touchstone the phone a lot, so like all the tethered iPhones, I can learn to live with constant recharging, but it will be nice if they have a "bulge" option to go with the swap option.

Dieter FTW!! Awesome review! I will be in line on the 6th :D

Dieter,
One question regarding Camera not doing video. Is that a camera limitation or just there is no software that can capture the video?

The restriction is purely in the Code. The hardware has the functionality to record Videos

Palm has alluded that they may be including video recording in an early OTA update.

Fine sums up this device nicely. However, the form factor of this device has too many shortcomings to ignore. It has a tiny keyboard while still having a sliding mechanism and all the drawbacks that accompanies(thickness, structural integrity, cost)it. This phone is fine for people who have devices with smaller screens looking to upgrade, but for those who have phones with larger high res screens they are going to in for quite the surprise. If you have a RAZR the Pre probably looks like its from the future, but if you have a HTC Touch HD the pre looks like 2007.

Fortunatly for Palm and Sprint alike the vast majority of people have RAZRs.

Personally, one of the things I've been waiting for in a smartphone is a way to intergrate a large, multitouch interface with a physical, vertical keyboard. I didn't think it could/would be done, but the Pre made it happen. Your opinion will be true for some, but for others, the form factor will be a huge selling point.

I did publish a concept 6 years ago in my Magazine, with a flip phone - that allow for a slightly BIGGER screen than Pre and from the fold and down, 8 ways navigation with call buttons, then a duble row of application and extra buttons, then the Treo sized QUERTY keyborad and finally an extra numeric keyboard, right above an empthy space...

It would still be the same size as Palm Pre, but allow twize as many direct keys and also protect the screen!

And it have some other great advantages, too...

I agree in part, I wish this had a keyboard more the size of the G1, and i hope they rethink the no software keyboard thing, cause i wouldn't mind pecking in a quick not on occasion in horizontal view...but not to be harsh, the HTC Touch HD makes the pre look old? The phone is a nice phone, with a beautiful screen, but it doesn't look or feel anymore advanced then the pre, unless you consider weight to be "more advanced" as it is heavier...and bigger in general. A triple slider design would have been to my liking as well, but that makes one fat phone...kinda like the HTC Touch Pro...Which looks like a futuristic brick.

sweet, sounds good to me

Was this with the new firmware or the old one?

This was done with the latest 1.0.2 software.

WOW. I don't think you missed anything. Great job!!! and thank you!

Great review - thanks for being so thorough. The more I see all the reviews, the more I think I'll get one when available.

Dieter: Great job. Now, a simple question, what do you think about BoyGenius?

Already stated in precentral coverage of their pre-release review model.

Try: http://www.precentral.net/boy-genius-reviews-likes-palm-pre

Wow, I'm stunned. You must not have slept for 2 days to get all this information put together in a nice package. I'm not sure but I think its one of the best reviews of a product PRIOR to it being launched, I have ever seen.

Yes, quite an accomplishment and it is nicely organized. Great work!

I think this was a very fair review and I decided to purchase this device on the 6th without hesitation. My only issue is no video recording. I hope they will fix that issue.

I'd already read another review or two before I found out this one was up, so I didn't check out all of your sections, but that's kinda the point of my post. I liked that I didn't have to.

You set this up to give users what they want, right off the bat. Want a quick 10-minute video overview? We gotchu.

Want a detailed analysis? We gotchu.

Want a detailed analysis, but with options to quickly reference certain elements of the device or O.S.? Guess what...? We gotchu.

That was a pleasure. I'll be back for multiple viewing and will certainly recommend this review over all others I've seen, thus far.

Thanks.

That was a pretty detailed review. Nice job, Dieter. Thanks for all the great information.

You mentioned that email was slow, but you didn't really give specific examples of where you had to wait, and the video didn't look all that slow to me. Can you amplify a bit?

I think its weird how they havent posted the facebook commercial here yet. its beautiful

Nice review, can't wait for Saturday!

Agreed!

Very interesting. If you have time, would you be able to see how long the battery lasts when streaming Internet radio of some form? I'm assuming 2 - 3 hours, but there we go.

Well Done review!

So it seems like the heavies have posted their reviews and it all seems positive. They seem to all mention the same faults. I was shocked to see that Mossberg's review was actually helpful and non-fanboyish! So is it my assumption that (can't really be called this anymore) Boy Genius isn't getting a review unit, or didn't lol? Now their tantrum review is totally explainable.

Great review! Did you hear that there could be a bug with AIM IM in web OS that causes battery to run down.

This is an incredible "pre" release review. No pun intended. I was about 95% in before I read this. Now I'll do my best to have this in my hands by Monday. Thanks.

Dieter,

I think your review is just as thorough as it could be. Congrats and MANY THANKS.

I will be one of the few "pre-fan boys" that is choosing to not get the Pre immediately, but wait until Palm has ironed out the kinks you encountered and releases FLASH support for web browsing.

I think that waiting around six months gives Palm enough time to issue updates and fixes that will take care of most of the concerns found in your review with release 1.0, and waiting until the Holidays for me is not something that will kill me (patience is one of my very few virtues).

Congratulations again.
Rafa.

The pre came out the same time my verizon contract is up...perfect.

can you configure what to search with universal search? I am not a twitter user, so I would like to disable the twitter button for universal search, so I only have to see what I am actually using.

and can you disable the use of the net through your mobile provider? if not, it can generate thousands of dollars on your bill, if you are in a foreign country where you have to pay massive roaming fees.

I believe you can actually delete twitter from the phone all together...meaning it won't be searched.

Looks like we have another iphone hog, Bonnie Cha from CNET actually said, "webOS lags no worse than Winmo." She also said having to slide out the keyboard when viewing a web page in landscape mode "is a problem." What's wrong with some of these people? Here is the CNET review: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10252807-1.html?tag=mncol;title

whats wrong with you? I have no problem with the review. seems to be fair.

You don't have a problem with Bonnie Cha's review over on "CNET?" She's implying webOS is in the same class as Windows Mobile and experiences the same lag. Among other idiotic things. If you think she gave a "fair" review, something is wrong with YOU!

in general she came out positive for the pre and remarks similar things as dieter bohn.

I find it irritating that everybody who says not only positive things about the pre -- even if the overall review is positive -- gets branded as an apple fanboy...

have you already used the pre?

My pre is much faster than my previous windows mobile phones. I think bonnie may have been a little harsh, but her review was not that biased, if at all, she just picked out the things she didn't like, and admit it we all have different opinions.

epic it be.

Typo under Pre as a phone: while it could have stood be be a little louder

Delete this post if you like.

Absolutely excellent review. Thank you for your effort! Also, thank you for your objective positive and negative feedback (I always feel that if there is not some negative comments, then the reviewer is not being honest - honesty is critical). Of course, most of your comments were very positive! I too will be in line awaiting my very own Pre!

I have just finished reading both ENGADGET'S and GIZMODO's review. It's incredible how biased they are at Giz (their level of apple fanboyism is worrying). Engadget's was much more neutral (whereas PreCentral was a little too favorable, as expected by obvious and acknowledged reasons).

I also read CNet's review, which pales in comparison to the other sites.

Does it support any form of CJK (Chinese/Japanese/Korean) input? If you go to http://zh.wikipedia.org, do you see Chinese characters or square boxes?

On the forums people were testing with Chinese websites and they were all displayed correctly.

---
I do like that instead of using strict 'categories,' Palm is explicitly going with 'Tags.' That way a given app can fall within multiple categories like Entertainment and Social instead of being pigeonholed in one.
---

that has nothing to do with do with using tags or categories. even with categories it has not to be only one category. you can design it in a way, that a product can be placed in multiple categories.

I'd like to see that approach extended to the PIM apps on the Pre and the launcher--like Palm OS devices have always had.

OMG cant wait till saturday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow, well done! Thanks for this!

Dieter has hit the home run with this review. Wow. Thank you.

Now, when does the review come out in hard cover?

you just made me laugh..thanks

i got boner :)

Pity it can't reproduce...

Uh, the new name for it is - got a Pre....

Wow, what a long article :) Great review, indeed. Thanks!

Dieter,

You say it's the best mobile browser you've ever used. Have you used SkyFire, though? (I haven't, but it looks MIGHTY impressive - especially with its Hulu compatibility.)

Skyfire may be cool because of it's Flash support, which is obviously something the Pre lacks right now. But the way the Pre renders webpages seems to beat out Skyfire. Most people will admit that Skyfire has some text issues.

Battery life tricks from the AP. By PETER SVENSSON

"When I first got the Pre, I was dismayed by its battery life. I got less than 24 hours of light use out of it, and it would lose nearly a third of its charge if left inactive overnight. It turns out there's a bug that drains the battery if your Google instant-messaging account is connected to your AOL Instant Messenger account. Palm says it will fix that. When I logged Google out of AIM, I got much longer life.

I extended battery life even further by setting the Pre to receive my personal e-mail instantly rather than checking every 15 minutes. That's counterintuitive

Maybe you should start a thread.

Palm has had this problem with the Treos, too. I tried the autochecking of email briefly a few years ago and immediately went back. Batteries are just too small for it.

The saving grace is that Palm wasn't so stupid to include a non-replaceable battery as did Apple. It's a little burdensome to lug around a spare battery or two, but it's better than having no phone in the afternoon. I'm sure Seidio and others are even working on extended life batteries right now for this, so that'll help even more.

One dumb mistake Palm copied from the iPhone was the lack of any way to expand the memory beyond what it ships with. That alone makes this phone a non-starter for me and many others. 8GB for all the enhanced applications plus music and videos just ain't gonna cut it for the 2 years I'd keep it. Plus, more practically, there's no way to make a local backup of your databases and other essential files - if your phone is lost, stolen, broken, malfunctioning etc. before you've sync'd important files - oh well.. With the Treo it's 15 minutes with Backupman and you're back up and running..

Does it support OGG files for audio? I was under the impression it does, but this review doesn't seem to say.

thanks Dieter for being as thorough as usual. Not for nothing, but I read and have read tons on reviews on many devices and none examine a device they way you do. Great job.

Now if I could make up my mind about waiting 60 days or shelling out 40 bucks more per month for the Pre to get it on the launch date.

This is EXACTLY why you have a user replaceable battery. WHat you see as an Achilles Heel, I see as a must have feature.

I can't tell you how many people I know who are mobile users who lament having to plug in and wait while their iPhone charges. To me, that would kill my productivity.

I dare say the battery life is similar to a WinMo device, running the same stuff.

And as for speed, WinMo is snappy enough on the right device (e..g, Treo Pro) or custom ROM (e.g., HTC Touch Pro, etc.) I don't see WebOS having any issue.

Boy, we sure are a bunch of nitpickers. I mean, when the iPhone came out, people overlooked tons of "missing" things (copy and paste, A2DP, poor AT&T network, etc.).
There is no perfect device, but Palm has presented a solid option. And it's open, unlike the locked iPhone (I'm sorry, jailbreaking is the same as custom WinMo ROMs - not for 95% of the market.

---
WHat you see as an Achilles Heel, I see as a must have feature.
---

that Achilles Heel was not the replaceable battery, but the small battery that does not last a day sometimes. I do not see having a small battery as a must have feature :-)

Battery life is likely comparable to a similar WinMo phone. Yes, when you have all those features, and use you them full bore, battery life will suffer.

It's a design trade-off - bigger battery, bigger device.

Lamenting battery life was the referred to Achilles heel, but the replacability trumps that.

It's like a car; one with 13 gallon tank vs 18 gallon tank. Sure, you could go farther on one tank, but if able to refill it easily, it doesn't mattter.

Really, battery life issues have been around forever, and will continue to be complained about. As long as you can swap a battery, you are fine.

I will complain about it, if it does not last a day. otherwise I will just recharge the phone over night. it would be good, if a second battery wont be necessary.

Great review!

I just want to mention that the Pre is the only smartphone that I know of that comes with a real mirror (back of the phone is a mirror finish when the keyboard io flipped up). I'm pretty sure this will become one of the key features for many users.

great review dieter!! very detailed and straight forward with non of the nonsense!! i have my place in line for saturday morning!!!!

Great review! You guys always do a nice job!

I must say though... your method of blocking out phone numbers and emails is... interesting. Smeary, smudgy, ugliness? lol

Dieter excellent/flawless reviews, very well balanced.

As for me my phone usually stay in a charger when I'm not using it, so the battery life issue won't affect me that much. I will get a touchstone for my desk at work, and I'll be all set for my work days use of my Pre.

Great Review!! I have to admit I have been waiting for a good review of the memos and tasks because I use them so much now. I am actually disappointed in both of them. I won't be waiting in line... I am going to wait until my Treo 680 bites the dust until I upgrade.

Interesting... I made the same observation, as you can see in my post "My "wish list" for software developers and especially Palm" in the webOS developer forum.

Great Review!! I have to admit I have been waiting for a good review of the memos and tasks because I use them so much now. I am actually disappointed in both of them. I won't be waiting in line... I am going to wait until my Treo 680 bites the dust until I upgrade.

The Gizmodo review is schizophrenic.

Screen better than iPhone. Touch system better than iPhone. WebOS is great.

But this guy can't work a slider and claims it's a design flaw.

Can't work a physical keyboard, which is pretty decent given the space constraints.

And this "Sprint network isn't good in my area" has got to stop. Sprint's network where he is (SF) is as good (or better) than other carriers). Sprint's network is much better than most in major metro area, yet this bashing persists.

Please turn in your gadget-cred at the door and go home....

Great review!!! I the only thing I've read that I didnt like is the number of recent calls in the call log. My treo 755 shows all the contacts since the last time I wiped the phone Feb 2008. I haven't had to go past a month looking for anything on most occassions but I like having the log. I had also done the patch someone had posted to give call details for time and duration.

Also, in the gestures video, it showed you only had 1.3 GB of memory available. That's not likely to be an issue for me, as I haven't used my full storage for the treo, let alone the SD card I have, but I was wondering what you had loaded to use up 5.7 Gigs of memory. My guess is the music and/or video files, which I don't normally load on my phone but I wanted verification.

Also does it give you a summary of how your memory is being used (what percentage for what apps) or just the total amount used?.

memory=storage

Thanks Dieter for all the work that went into this review. It is invaluable. And I'm genuinely happy that you've had the opportunity to use the phone early. You deserve it!

What about sending contacts, photos and mp3 with Bluetooth?

Can I transfer calendar and contacts from Palm Deskop with the initial sync? As far as I understood, it does not work for tasks and memos?

Fantastic review and props to you guys for keeping all on a single page.

The physical keyboard verses the on screen keyboard issue, i.e., the Pre vs. the iPhone, is probably going to be a moot point. This is really nothing more then a software issue. If Palm is not already working on or contracted out to have this software developed, you can be almost 100% sure there are a number of third party, after market software houses working on this as of this posting. This type of application is not terribly complex. How the on screen keyboard application looks and performs will depend on whether or not Palm wants to do it in-house or just let the market provide the solution. It would be roughly the same for an aftermarket barcode / software application. Apple could, of course, equalize this by offering a physical keyboard, but this does not appear to be in the offering for the immediate future.

dont knock palm that notes/memos dont sync to exchange.

that's a failure of MS' exchange activesync. It's just not possible for ANYONE to sync notes to exchange from a mobile device OTA until MS gets it's head out of it's rear.

Good Mobile Messaging can connect to the exchange server through there's and sync notes OTA. They have palm OS and winmo versions and state they are working on a WebOS version for sometime tin 2009. Will be neat if they can pull off to be another source of 'synergy'.

Hopefully google comes out with some sort of OTA sync for notes as another option....

"that's a failure of MS' exchange activesync. It's just not possible for ANYONE to sync notes to exchange from a mobile device OTA until MS gets it's head out of it's rear"

Activesync and Exchange has never sync'd notes but does sync tasks (a more powerful version of notes).

MS has never stated it would sync notes so it's head is nowhere near it's rear on this one.

Tasks is an electronic version of postit notes and are considered unstructured and transitionary data that you use for a few minutes and get rid of. Very few people use notes in Outlook/Exchange. If you ask 100 Exchange users I bet you would find it difficult to find 10% using them.

Anyway before we start throwing insults around shouldn't Palm get the stuff they are synchronising with Exchange working properly first or AT ALL!

The fact that many users won't be able to sync at all because the Palm doesn't support the basic out of the box Exchange policies of PIN and remote wipe is a bit of a bigger issue don't you think ?!

I am sure you will find many other Exchange Activesync features missing and at a gues you won't be able to see attendee acceptance status for meetings and I hear that you CAN'T EVEN SEND A MEETING IN CALENDAR ANYWAY !

There is a whole lot I love about this phone but I am a power user on messaging/Exchange and I am really hoping Palm sort these things out ASAP as they are deal breakers for me.

Pre desktop...what will it look like? any different? sync to outlook?

Can I use the PRE as a wireless modem? I have edited the registry on my Treo 800w, and I can use Internet Sharing to surf on my laptop..its great. I want to do the same with the PRE without paying Sprints "Phone as modem" deal. Any ideas?

Incredible review! Thanks for being objective and pointing out some of the rough spots in the 1.0 version. That being said, the Pre looks fantastic. I'm sure updates will smooth out many of the rough edges, as they did on the original iPhone.

Before reading your review and watching the videos, I was 95% sure the successor to my 1st gen iPhone was going to be another iPhone. Now I'd say it's about 60%. Depends alot on what Apple does or does not release soon and how the iPhone 3.0 software update plays on my phone.

One disappointment I have with what you showed on the Pre was the memo app. I used Palm PDAs and then a Treo for years; and the memo app was my thing. Combined with the old Palm global search (enhanced by Findhack), it was the best freeform, drop anything in, text database I have used, then or since. The new memo app looks like it was designed by the same people who did the iPhone memo app, and come to think of it, I guess it was.

A thing that I find both exciting and worrisome about the Pre is what appears to be total reliance on "the cloud". That seemed to make some things you showed a little sluggish; and then there's the issue of what you can access when you have no coverage. The fact that your stuff gets backed up to the cloud is awesome, though.

The one thing that probably will keep me with the iPhone is the multimedia and app store stuff, in other words, the whole iTunes ball of wax. I am not a business user, so while I'm very impressed with the Pre's PDA implementation, it doesn't currently have the "fun factor" of the iPhone. It could get there; but at least based on some of their marketing pronouncements, Palm's target customer base is the business user. It occurs to me that they are really going after RIM; and not Apple. Can't fault that.

Thanks for the stella review.

It really help me decide to wait for V2. Few of the things that need to be nailed are just not quite there yet, but its still a great device.

WOW what a amazing review. best review i seen so far, and wont be none better. im gonna hold off on the pre til it update it with video recording. i was thinking about the touch pro 2 but the pre is where it is @.

i'm approaching fifty. for those who do not know, vision changes during the forties. small things start to become hard to see for everybody older than 40. that means small size text on web pages, especially, is near impossible to see after 40. it will happen to each of you too!! no one gets away from the problem with seeing small things on screen. so reading glasses are the universal solution.

i don't "need" glasses, i have better than 20/20 vision.
i've always thought that the "killer app" that would make smartphones really explode beyond their 1% marketshare would allow middle age adults, a group who can easily afford smartphones, to actually see whats on the screen. this is the true "ergonomic" issue.

question, is a web page on the palm pre's screen visible to someone age 50+ or will that demographic simply end up with an expensive plain old phone because they can't use, see the other features?

One thing I've noticed that has not been mentioned in the review is the touch-tuning for the screen. The easiest way to open the Pre is to put your thumb on the screen and slide open the keyboard. The screen seems to be tuned really well so when you "fat-finger" it, it won't respond. I've opened the Pre several times this way, and I have yet to have an errant tap register. Cool!

Good review but, come on, glossing over palm's failure to engineer a Pre workaround for Tasks? And Memos?

I've got more than 13,000 records I need/use from 16 years of MEMOS, CALENDAR events with attached notes (complete with DatebookPlus fonts, formats, colors, icons), and critical data that I've recorded in TASKS, etc.

The reason I didn't switch to an I-phone, or any other OS for that matter, is because all my palmOS data, and related functions, are more valuable to me (and my business) than the device itself.

I CANNOT believe Palm has ignored the remaining hundreds of thousands of Palm customers who MUST HAVE the ability to transfer/sync all of their past data (some as far back as their US Robotics devices) or they cannot switch to something new!

I bought three Pre's yesterday. I love what they do, but the more I'm finding out what they CAN'T do I realize I'm going to have to return them until someone makes a device or enough workarounds to import all of my data in a usable format. I guess I'm going to have to keep buying used 755p's until there ain't no more around.

I am so bummed. I really thought the Pre was finally the freaking answer.

There IS an "migration software" that can move everything (except memos I think) in one direction and they did help people doing just that, in Sprint shops... That will hopefully fix most of your problem, then can you manually move the rest ;-)

But there are still some BIG usability problems with Tasks and the waste of screen space, that I point out in my post - My "wish list" for software developers and especially Palm - in the webOS developer forum.

I agree with you, but I'm moving to the Pre anyway. I'll find another kludgy way to deal with it until a 3rd party solution like Agendus comes out for the Pre. In the mean time I'll keep everything in Classic, I guess.

I am totally with you, xpdnc! I have over 1300 Memos alone that I have accumulated since acquiring my first Palm VIIx. Being able to view, update, and add to these memos from either my Treo 755p or my PC is one of the most valuable aspects of the Palm OS/Palm Desktop/Treo system.

This is one of the main things that have kept me loyal to Palm all these years, despite friends flashing around glitzy iPhones and Blackberrys that look like dead-on clones of my Treos. As you say, the data has far more value than the device.

Ditto my Contacts (1500 or so), Calendar (events going back most of the decade), and Tasks (hundreds, many containing valuable information). Google may be able to handle all my contacts, but if I understand it correctly, Calendar is going to drop everything older than a couple of months.

I can't believe Palm has abandoned long term, loyal users like you and I. Shame on Palm!

I'm sticking with my 755p and hoping Palm eventually wakes up to this critical oversight and does something about it.

Gargl !
When will it come to Europe ? Q4 ? Ever ?
From the sound of it, close to a grand slam.
Two things though :
a physical switch for wifi would be faster and ultimately more energy efficient (if it takes three clicks to get it on/off, one ends up leaving it on)

why no fm radio ? I use my phone for everything, includng listening to fm radio on my bike. I won't ever have a secund gizmo for that.

Great review. And this phone kicks ass.

Nice review...I wonder if i can use my Skyscape products on palm pre

wow, what a thorough review - thanks! so thorough that i went to the precentral store and spent $200 on accessories! :)

Love the phone so far but a bit disappointed that it doesnt have a video camera feature. Did I miss this?

Don't be so disappointed, because the Hardware is within this device to capture Video, and in fact, the processor itself can work with 720P HD Quality, and support a 12 Megapixel Camera!

The software for Video capture, either through an Application or an Update, should most certainly be in the works at this point in time.

Most seem to agree that Sprint and Palm are playing this issuance wisely, in that they plan on adding and exposing this devices true potential over time. This is most likely being done so as to keep the market interest high, even after the new iPhone makes its entrance soon (June 19th, 2009).

Also, I am truly glad that they will be opening up their SDK to the general public this time around, as I had hoped for them to do. Now, if they will only begin a profitable program similar to Apple's and Google's (For the Android System), wherein they allow you a 70% profit of the sales related to your program, then the Pre will completely smash the competition for sure.

I've seen on some reviews that the home screen is rather sparse. Did you find a way to add the calendar clock to it so I can see what's up without having to go into a card?

Maybe I have been missing it somewhere, but why has there been such little commentary on the fact that this is Sprint's FIRST 4G Phone? WiMax is a HUGE advantage that people seem to be forgetting when it comes to this phone, and it is most certainly, above all else, the one triumph truly placing this device above so many others.

You are mistaken in your deduction that the Pre is WiMax (4G) device. Undoubtedly you were swayed by the graphics and voice-over timing towards the end of the current NOW Network TV commercials. I noticed it too and deemed it would be somewhat misleading for some viewers.
However, there are currently no CDMA/WiMax mobile telephones available in the US (as of 6/23/2009.)

Check the actual Palm Pre specifications here: http://www.phonescoop.com/phones/phone.php?p=1985

Thank you for all the information!!!!!!!!!!! Very helpful and I learnt tons! Can I ask something you may know? Do you know if I can sync my music from my Zune, I don't use Itunes, I have the Microsoft Zune..

Thank you

Joelle

:-)

No the Zune software does not recognize the device.

My IT staff says they can't get the Pre to connect to our corporate Exchange server (due to some security issues?). Have others had this problem? Is the problem ". . . because the Palm doesn't support the basic out of the box Exchange policies of PIN and remote wipe . . ."? Is this a problem due to their WebOS ? Any 3rd party apps, or work-arounds for this problem?

Thanks
RSZ

I loooooove the palm pre but the battery life sucks so bad. Good thing for touch stone technology

I wish there is a way to provide battery with longer recharge time with software application.Also need to have auto focus for taking pictures and video recording & editing capability.

I wish there is a way to provide battery with longer recharge time with software application.Also need to have auto focus for taking pictures and video recording & editing capability.

My first full day with the Pre. Was going to get an iPhone after 5 years with Sprint with the 650, 700p 755p, and just coun't handle that $150.00 a month unlimited usage bill. (I'm in sales and do 4-5K mins a month). Great phone!!! So far, just WTF is with that sharp edge when you slide it up, and personally, I wish the key board slid sideways instead of up and down. Ever try to type "dislexic" (sic) in Google while holding the phone in portrait mode? It's hard.

Deiter,
Love your review. LOVE PreCentral since I found it several months ago. I read it daily to stay up to date. Your articles are helpful and the podcasts, which I'm new to are really informative. Love being in on those discussions with guys like you and your friends who really know the ins and outs of what's going on with smart phones and the various companies and the market. So, thank you for all that and all you do.


I want this phone Super Bad, but can't yet. I'm waiting with great anticipation.

Question: Because the review you did was right around release day and they will continue to bring out updates and Apps that change the experience and functionality from what it was originally, will you be updating this review and any of its videos as the Pre gets updated as well?

HELP! I love the new palm pre except for the volume on the incoming calls. I am having a problem with the volume during phone calls. I switched phones with someone so that I could test the phone and I noticed that the volume is very low and I am not able to turn up the volume. I used the sounds and ringtones icon, turned system sounds on and the volume control up all the way and it did not change anything.

Open letter to Palm Pre Product Manager

I am a palm user since inception.
I think you did a huge mistake by not including
Palm Desktop and local sync. for Palm Pre.

As a hardcore fan I suggest changing your plan and commit to support a desktop sync. mechanism for Pre (ideally with Palm Desktop).

Then announce the plan and quickly allocation resources
to get that done as soon as possible.

It will cost you losing the battle to rivals if you don

I am in complete agreement with you on every issue. Data worth much more than the device. I am sticking with the centro until palm comes up with "palm sync-like software" and memos.

To Palm,
Please improve the battery life on the Pre. I gave up
my Iphone for this! I can't go thru half of my working day without charging up this phone.

google voice should take care of visual voicemail. it's cool but it's cool, but I HATE voicemail personally....It's 2009, we have e-mail, text messaging, instant messenger all on our phones even at that... Why people still leave voicemail messages i beyond me.

If there was a way to boycot voicemail I'd sign up for sure.

I have two complaints with my Palm Pre.
The first is my major complaint, why do we not have visual voicemail?
My second issue is with text messaging. I like the fact that I can text a message that is larger than 160 characters and the Pre accomodates and automatically breaks it into two or more messages that it sends out. My problem is that if I have a long thread that I have not sent, I cannot scroll through the text message to make changes. I find this extremely frustrating.

Anyone see any work arounds for the text issue, or any idea if visual vm is on the horizon in a future release?
Thanks

1: Visual Voicemail is more a service-side feature, and would require sprint to make substantial changes to their wireless network. AT&T only could afford it because of the huge iPhone contract.

2: Yes, there needs to be some scrolling updates. I'm sure there will be in time. The Palm Pre is a good first version device, but not perfect. Good news is, this problem can be fixed via software updates.

Hi all,

Shopping around for my first smartphone. May even develop for WebOS. Excited about the Pre but some of the comments are slowing my move. Guess you cannot ask for much in v. 1.0.
Bought my first PDA in 1998. A monochrome Everex running Windows CE 1.0. Was waiting for a great hybrid like Pre' to come out! Thanks Palm! Sorry Apple!!

Jeff Swope

Hi. my birthday is coming up REALLY soon and this is the PERFECT gift for me. The only thing is, i only want it for its features and not the phone plan. I was planning on getting it without the phone plan and using it as a handheld device, and maybe later getting the plan. Is it possible to buy seperate from the plan? If so, how much will it cost? If not, can you reccomend similar devices? Thanks!

You can buy the phone without contract (and cancel your plan) for a price around $749.99

If you trust ebay, you could probably find one within the range of $350-500.

Cheapest will always be the 2-year contract price of $199

Is thier away to forward text messeges or copy and paste text messeges?

Been looking forward to a new smart phone to replace my Treo 650p and I was originally excited about the Pre. However, finding out that it won't sync with Outlook without 3rd party software and that it isn't compatible with any of the palm software I already own on the 650p without more additional 3rd party software I am reconsidering my options. Palm Pre is a leading option when looking to leverage previous investments made on the Treo but when I need to buy everything again from scratch and get forced to push my personal data into a cloud I can wait a bit longer for some better options.

I purchased then returned my pre. I have a treo and unfortunately i expected the pre to be better. I love the way the calendar updates work through google. However, my issue were in the view mode of monthly the pre calendar shows all gray on days I have appointments scheduled. My treo would allow me to see exactly what type of appointments on any day in the month with color descriptions.
Also, when in meetings and miss a call...unless i see the screen when the call or notification comes in i have no way of knowing that I have missed it.
Finally, I feared the changes that have been talked about would require me to purchase an updated version of the phone in less than the 2 years.

However, my issue were in the view mode of monthly the pre calendar shows all gray on days I have appointments scheduled.

That's a pretty good point. The first time I saw the monthly view, I couldn't even tell I had appointments on it. The different shades of gray are too easy to confuse with just UI embellishments. I'm sure some enterprising homebrewer can fix that, but it's kind of annoying, nonetheless.

Also, when in meetings and miss a call...unless i see the screen when the call or notification comes in i have no way of knowing that I have missed it.


I'm not sure what you mean here. When I miss a call, the notification stays in the notification area until I dismiss it.


Finally, I feared the changes that have been talked about would require me to purchase an updated version of the phone in less than the 2 years.

There's always that risk with technology, I guess. But you shouldn't have to worry about anything other than hardware changes.

The phoen is not worth the hype. I regret not gettign an iphone.
Palm pre's best and newest app yet i think is "open Table" wtf? i can go online and do that. Come one PRE we need apps. Im about to cancel my contract and pay the fee. This phone is bothering me.

Palm pre's best and newest app yet i think is "open Table" wtf? i can go online and do that.

Granted, some of the apps in the App Catalog are less than impressive, but I wouldn't actually count OpenTable among them. The other restaurant apps just provide you with a phone number to make reservations. At least OpenTable shows you if there are empty tables and allows you to make the reservation from within the program, and then adds it to your calendar. That's relatively slick, IMHO.

I love the Pre.

Please help?? 1.)i need info from my centro to my pre, 2.)will pre soon be able to bluetooth picts calenders ect 3.) can you send song via pre..

Thanks G. Hines
Peoria IL.

I love my pre but my centro is looking better sometimes..
1. calendar/datebook/memos from my centro to pre
2. bluetooth feature from my centro to pre
3. send music/media to others via pre

any help at all please

Nice and best recap I've seen. Learned several new things. My big issue with my new Pre is email search! I've called support, no one knows how to search like gmail search on my laptop. Search is key to me. Help...

I hate the Pre calendar. It would be better if the items could be color coordinated. Such as purple for birthdays, orange for vacation days, green for certain appointments etc. I go back to my Palm Centro for calendar entries. It is a pain in the butt to use both but at least in the Centro, I can tell by the color, what the entry is.