As I returned to the office today freshly rejuvenated from celebrating America’s anniversary during this three-day Fourth of July holiday weekend, it occurred to me there was another important anniversary warranting attention – today marks one month since the Palm Pre was officially released!
With thirty days of Pre usage in the books, it’s now time to look back and evaluate how Palm and Sprint fared in this flagship offering. Let’s take a closer look at some of the highlights:
- Slim, polished, curvy, lightweight – one can’t ask for much more aesthetically!
- The keyboard is ever so slightly on the small side; it’s still completely functional once you get used to it, but it is a few degrees smaller than those commonly used on traditional Blackberry devices.
- Also, the Touchstone induction charger is a nice, yet pricey, addition that increases the overall coolness factor.
- Multi-tasking! Multi-tasking! Multi-tasking! The real beauty of the device is its “Deck of Cards” operating system that permits users to open up multiple applications simultaneously and shuffle through them at will. Power users will love this feature! The phone finally meets the PC!
- If the multi-tasking makes you think Windows, the rest of the interface will make you think Apple. Like the iPhone, the interface is very smooth and using the device is quite intuitive. Occasionally, applications can be a bit slow to open, but overall, the user interface is very well done.
- Perhaps most importantly, in less than 30 days, Palm has already delivered two OS updates to the platform. Contrast this with the cumulatively meager four updates released over the entire life of the Instinct. If Palm truly continues to put development resources into the WebOS as promised, the future will be bright for Pre owners.
- Audio Quality
- Call quality is great on this phone; I have not experienced any issues hearing the called party, nor have I received any complaints of difficulty in hearing me despite my proclivity for using the Pre on noisy city streets.
- Display Quality
- The screen on the Pre is amazingly sharp. Very, very crisp! It simply must be seen to be fully appreciated.
- By far, the most disappointing feature of the phone. Battery life is mediocre at best. Simply put, if you are an active text messenger and often use the phone to surf the Internet, not to mention placing a few calls during the day, you had better plan on charging the phone during the day or you’ll risk full battery depletion by nightfall.
- Synergy – a very nifty, if cumbersome, contact synchronization tool. This application synchronizes with your GMail, Facebook, and AIM accounts upon initial sign-in, leaving you with a plethora of contacts in your address book. While the application does a decent job of combining profiles, users are certain to encounter situations where multiple contact profiles exist for the same person – for instance, think how many AIM ID’s bare no resemblance to one’s email address or Facebook user name. To take full advantage of this Synergy application, Palm will need to release an online or PC-based utility to allow for manual off-Pre contact management to correct these situations.
- E-mail – Pre comes with a built-in email management application that works with all the popular web-based email systems, as well as a synchronization option for corporate users with Exchange-based environments. Overall, the email management application works very well, but there is presently no way for Exchange users to synchronize their corporate e-mail over-the-air via a desktop agent. Hopefully, this shortcoming is addressed as new applications are developed.
- Application Potential – 30 days, 30 apps. Not terrible, but not great either. Like Apple, the continued success of the Pre will heavily depend upon a strong application base to stay relevant. Palm is promising to release their officially supported software development kit (SDK) in the near future, possibly as soon as September (even though leaked versions are already making their way online). The release of this SDK to enable mass application development and sustain the Pre’s momentum is critically important to it’s overall success.
And the results are in… Ding, ding, ding – we have winner! I am very pleased to report that Sprint and Palm combined for a real winner here! I was one of the many Instinct owners that felt underwhelmed by the device shortly after purchase, and I am remarkably pleased with the Pre feature set to date. I definitely believe this is far and away Sprint’s best cell phone offering, and I highly encourage any Sprint customers craving an iPhone-like experience to check out the Palm Pre – some of its features might even leave your iPhone friends drooling!