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Rating: 5/5 2 Votes

Palm Pre Review

I got my Palm Pre about two weeks ago now, and unlike other reviewers I've actually spent some time with the device and used it in real world scenarios, and not just ooh and ahh'd at the latest techno gadget. For me a product has to work, and be efficient. Sure it can have some nice bells and whistles but if they slow me down, or do nothing to improve how I work; then they are useless to me.

You can expect a video review to come shortly, but for now here is my standard text write up! - Update the Video is up .

So for you to understand where I am coming from on this, my last phone was a Treo 650 running Palm OS. Also YES I have used a iPhone and an iPod touch so I am aware of some of their limitations first hand. Now with that out of the way... here is the review...

The Pros

The biggest plus to the Pre is the fact that it is truely a multitasking phone. I can actually have several browing windows (cards) open at once. So I can look up a price real quick for a part, switch back to my previous card and update a work order with how much the part will be. This saves me from having to browse back to where I was, reinput data, etc, etc. Another spot where this is handy is when I have to browse two work sites at once to create a workorder. I simply go to card view and switch between the two to copy and paste the needed information.

It supports data and voice at the same time! I don't know on the newer iPhones, but the first generation that I had a chance to play with, did'nt seem to do this. I can be browsing the web, updating emails, streaming music, or video and receive a voice call. I've actually managed to update a website while talking on the device. My previous phone there was a long drawn out process where I had to connect and disconnect for internet services. Often it would freeze, lockup, or not disconnect, resulting in me getting a voicemail instead of a phone call. So far the Pre has shown no signs of these issues, and switches from browsing to voice seemlessly.

Most of the apps seem to be instant as far as running speed. Some people say the phone runs slow or sluggish, but I have'nt seen it be an issue. It definately runs faster than my old phone and does more. Switching between apps seems to be almost instant. Now of course downloading web pages or emails will take a few seconds, but that all depends on the data network available and signal strength. The one app I have seen that I would say is slow is the memo or notepad application. It takes a few seconds to open up, and another couple to make the note. Compared to the almost instant response from all the other applications it does seem slow.

The phone appears to be very stable, and so far has not crashed on me. My old phone would reboot, or crash at random doing simple things, costing me 10-20 minutes of time every time it happened. Switching from phone to email, and back has no problems. The apps in the App Catalog all seem to be stable and mostly well built. The true test here will come when the App store has more applications available.

It has a physical keyboard! Yes this is a big thing for me, because while I can use the on screen keyboard of the iPhone it just does not have the feedback of the physical keyboard. Why is this a big deal? Imagine that someone is talking to you, and you are typing something on your phone. If you can feel where your at on the keyboard you can almost type without looking at the keyboard. This saves you some time and lets you not appear to be rude by burying your face in your phone. Second the on screen keyboard is a bit picky if you have bigger fingers, and I found that I simply typed slower with the onscreen keyboard.

The last pro to the Pre is the fact that you can search for anything anywhere on your phone without having to open a program. You just simply type on your main screen and it starts searching. It gives standard options for searching google, and other websites if nothing is on your phone.

The neutral bits

Ok here is the stuff that is either the same from previous palm devices, or I'm not really in favor of one way or the other.

Using the Treo bluetooth headset, checking voicemail, and then receiving a call is a bad combination. I suspect this might be a limitation of the Treo headset as it happened on my old phone as well, however they are all Palm devices so... yeah, who knows. Basically if you check your voicemail using the headset, and then someone calls you. So you disconnect your voicemail call via the screen and go to answer your  other call, but for some odd reason you now have to use the phone and not your headset. This bug has been around long enough that I figured it would be fixed by now.

No onscreen keyboard! I know what your saying, "But you said you prefer the physical keyboard!" and I did say that. However if you turn your phone and try to use it sideways you have to turn it back around to use your physical keyboard. I say give us both, and it's not hard to do it. I find that I only use the phone in a verticle position and almost never sideways except to view pictures.

Text editing is a dog on this thing. Typing is no problem, it's easy and it's fast. But lets say you want to change that line above, or something several lines up or a few words back. You have to take your finger and put it into the position you want to start editing. There is no real easy way to do this. I mean sure the act of putting your finger on the screen is simple, but the precesion you need will cause you to go a few letters off or a line up. I find myself have to do it two or three times before I am exactly where I need to be. This can be fixed either with hardware or software. On the Treo 650 when you entered a large text field it would "zoom" in on it so to say. Meaning that it was the only thing showing when you clicked on the field and started typing. The software on the Pre could do this when you start typing in a field, where it zooms in on the field and makes the text roughly twice the size it normaly is. This would make the editing much easier as less precision is needed. The hardware solution would be some kind of cursor naviagtor. The Pre tries to do this already, but you still have the precision issue. If you hold the orange key in a text field you can scroll or move your cursor by sliding your finger on the screen. Again this works, but it's hard to be precise to get to just one character.

Stupid built in apps I don't want! I don't care about Nascar, I know some people do and that's cool, but I don't. I don't need a Nascar app on my phone, I don't want to see it on my phone. I don't care about Amazon MP3 store either, I won't use it and don't want to. However it's built into my phone and I can't get rid of it. So I have to make a page for these useless apps to "hide" them. 

Charging port is a pain to open, and makes you want to buy a Touch Stone. It's true, the charging/usb port on the phone is a pain to open, as you feel you are going to break the cover off by getting at it. Normally with stupid covers like this I just pop them off and never put them back on, but this one is on the side of the phone, where my hand is going to be pressing against it alot, so I need that cover. I actually went and got a touch stone to prevent this from becoming an issue.

It's a little hard to use with just one hand. Supposedly Palm spent alot of time to make the phone easy to use with just one hand, which I like. I can be typing on the computer and my Pre at the same time, using the desktop mouse, holding a desk phone, etc, etc. However some things are still hard to do with only one hand. Such as zooming in the browser, it can be done, but you have to kinda trick the phone. Text scrolling and highlighting are next to impossible as well. However zooming I use the most and would have to say is my real issue here. A simple fix here would be to remember the zoom levels on the pages you visit in the future, or to specify a zoom level for certain domains to save the trouble.

The Cons

Every cloud has a dark side, the grass is always greener elsewhere, and some things on new gadgets are worse than before. These are my issues with the Palm Pre as it is today.

Horrible battery life that lasts less than a day. Yes I can go through and adjust the settings on my phone to save some power, but I still find I barely can get a full 24 hours if I use the phone conservatively. I am pretty sure something must be running on the phone to eat up that much battery life so fast.

Browser runs Webkit, but still does'nt work with FCKEditor! I use FCKEditor in my CMS for editing this website. I would like to update the website more, but I can't while I am on the road so easily. FCKEditor does'nt work on my Palm Pre, and it did'nt even show up on my Treo 650. I can see the editor, but I can't type in it, the Pre just acts like I am trying to type a webpage in. I suspect this is an issue with the Pre more than it is FCKEditor being that it is most a javascript thing.

Discoloration of the screen in a few locations. I've seen the photos that people have taken, and I've seen it on my phone as well. It seems that at the bottom of the screen there is a discoloration that starts after a week or two of use. It seems to be a lighter spot. From the look of it, and how it acts I almost have to say it's burn in. Take a good look at all the screen shots and you will see the circles are right where the launcher icons are at.

The Touch Stone leaves your screen on 24/7 while it is connected to the phone. This is just stupid. sure you can call it a "feature" to turn your phone into a clock, but I don't want my phone's screen to burn out to be a clock. That is what my watch is for, my computer clock, my VCR, and hell the clock on my wall are for. The next software update needs to have the choice to put the phone to sleep when on the Touch Stone! I have to let my phone charge and shut it down so I don't burn my screen out faster.

No software to sync the phone with your desktop. I don't care about using Google contacts to sync my phone. I have customer and personal information I want to stay on my phone and my desktop, no where else. I want to be able to update one, and have it update the other. If there is a way to do this is sure is'nt obvious, and they only allow a single once time sync from your old palm desktop to your new Pre. I want to see an API where I can either update my contacts through my own website via web services calls, or a program to sync it with a desktop application, because I just don't trust third parties with my customer information PERIOD.

Finally the one I can across the other day, that ticked me off the most...

I cannot select text from a webpage! That's right I want to highlight information on one web page, and paste it into another web page. For example if I find a phone number, a name, address, etc. on a web page I might want to put that as a note in another web page, or memo, etc. However I don't want to remember all that info, or risk mistyping it. So I want to copy and paste it. However when I try to select the text nothing happens, or the web page slids in one direction or the other. I need this functionality for updating work orders on the web! Yes I can copy and paste from text fields, but not the actual page content itself. This is actually a downgrade for me and enough of one that I have thought of returning the phone.

Now beside all these negatives, and the neutrals... I am pretty much for the Palm Pre still. The lack of copy and paste between web pages is hurting how much I can use the phone, but I am probably going to make up for it in less down time from crashes and restarts from my buggy Treo 650.

Overall I would say an 8 out of 10.

Keep an eye out for the video review, in that I will show you the odd "delete" the builtin app bug.

Last Updated: 07/25/2009 01:12 AM

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