Review roundup: Palm's Pre and its fledgeling WebOS

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
The embargo on Palm?s new Pre smartphone has lifted and multiple reviews are now online describing the highly-anticipated iPhone competitor, which goes on sale this Saturday, June 6 at Sprint, Best Buy, and Radio Shack stores across the U.S where it will fetch $199 after rebates and a two-year service commitment.



Concerns about the keyboard and battery life are common threads in many of the reviews, though most compliment the Pre's multi-tasking ability and subtle notification system. Additionally, it's evident that very few 3rd-party applications will be available at its launch.



The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg

The Pre is "potentially the strongest iPhone rival to date, provided it attracts lots of third-party apps, which it sorely lacks at launch."

Its keyboard is the Pre?s "biggest advantage over the iPhone."

The Pre comes with an over-the-air back-up service that backs up all of your data without requiring any input from the user.

Video and music synchronization is done through iTunes. Palm "figured how to make iTunes think a Pre is an iPhone or iPod, and the software acts accordingly" which "worked perfectly."

At launch, the Pre?s answer to Apple?s App Store ? the App Catalog ? only contains about 12 apps and is the Pre?s "biggest disadvantage." During Mossberg?s testing, downloading an app made his Pre "crash disastrously" causing all of his data to be erased and the Pre was not able to connect to any wireless network.

Mossberg talks about the expected iPhone and the upcoming 3.0 firmware in his review, noting, "the new iPhone to be unveiled next week will have a lot of added features," and "I expect to see an iPhone with up to 32 gigabytes of memory, video recording, a higher-resolution camera, a compass, and a great operating speed."

The least expensive voice and data plan for the Pre matches the cost of the iPhone?s on AT&T at $70 per month, but Sprint includes unlimited text messaging, whereas this is an extra cost with AT&T.

New York Times' David Pogue

The Pre is "exactly the right size. It?s smaller than the iPhone... and therefore more comfortable as a phone."

The unlimited voice, data, and messaging plan from Sprint costs "$240 a year less than AT&T."

Despite having tiny keys, Pogue found it "faster and less frustrating than typing on glass."

The Pre?s new WebOS operating system is "attractive, fluid and exciting." Compared to the iPhone, multitasking is possible.

Though the Pre has a user-replaceable battery ? unlike the iPhone ? its battery life is "the Pre?s heartbreaker." The battery in Pogue?s Pre usually died in the late afternoon or evening.

While Pogue feels that the Pre is a "spectacular achievement," he also notes that the iPhone ?isn?t going away" and that "Apple?s lead of 20 million phones will only grow when the new iPhone 3.0 software (and, presumably, a third iPhone model) come out shortly."

Pogue doesn?t feel the Pre is perfect, describing that "opening certain programs can be very slow," and that "there?s no progress bar or hourglass to let you know that it?s still working." Additionally, it?s not possible to expand the Pre?s internal storage, no visual voicemail to match the iPhone, and the universal search function "won?t look through your e-mail or calendars."

USA Today's Ed Baig

Baig found the Pre "easy on the eyes," and "can?t think of a more comfortable cell phone" in his hand.

Baig notes the touchscreen gesture similarities between the Pre and iPhone, but describes that "what sets the Pre apart is the way it lets you keep multiple live applications open at once..."

The Pre was not without faults, and Baig "encountered occasional sluggishness and bugs." He experienced problems with the clock and icons "dancing around." Despite the Pre?s more subtle notifications method, Baig still wished for visual voicemail, as did David Pogue.

Baig notes that there?s no on-screen virtual keyboard to supplement the physical slide-out one, and that "at times, I would have liked the option..."

Though it?s possible to sync media via iTunes, buying music from iTunes on the Pre is not possible. However, the Pre is "integrated with the Amazon MP3 store, so you can sample and purchase songs on the fly." Similar to behavior in earlier iPhone firmware versions, the Pre must be on a Wi-Fi network to download music, though it can be previewed while on Sprint?s cellular network.

At launch, the Pre doesn?t have a leg up on the iPhone in one area: "The browser doesn?t support the Adobe Flash video standard. Palm and Adobe hope to deliver the capability in the future."

Overall, Baig feels that "Palm has delivered a device that will keep it in the game and give it a chance to star in it."



The Associated Press' Peter Svensson

The AP review of the Palm Pre is replete for praise for the device, claiming it is a "remarkable achievement" and that it "makes the iPhone look clunky."

The Synergy concept that pulls your PIM data from sources such as Google and Facebook is described as "very cool." Hardware-wise, the Pre is "well put together, but not exceptional."

Battery life was seen as an issue, prompting dismay after the battery died with "less than 24 hours of light use out of it." One cause is a "bug that drains the battery if your Google instant-messaging account is connected to your AOL Instant Messenger account." Palm is planning a fix for this bug.

The Pre?s keyboard "isn?t the best" but is "much easier to use than the iPhone?s onscreen keyboard."

Amazingly, the AP preferred the Pre?s 3-megapixel camera "over the 8-megapixel one in the Sony Ericsson C905" since the Pre?s has "very little shutter lag."

CNet's Bonnie Cha

Overall, CNet was "impressed with the Palm WebOS" but found that there were "some hardware and performance issues" as well as "a few missing features."

Most notably missing are video recording and voice dialing, though "Palm has said that these features can be added later through an over-the-air update."

The Pre?s multi-tasking ability with its cards concept and its unique notification system are "what makes it special and they are areas where the Pre beats the iPhone or any smartphone on the market right now."

Like David Pogue, Cha found the battery life to be poor, which, combined with the Pre?s sluggishness, causes her to think it?s not "the best device for business users or road warriors."

Cha praised the Pre?s screen, claiming that it?s "one of the main highlights of the phone." Though it?s slightly smaller than the iPhone?s at 3.1 inches measured diagonally, Cha says it?s "on par with, if not just slightly crisper looking than, the iPhone?s screen."

Though its user interface is "very sleek and fresh," the Pre "isn?t the most intuitive device to use, at least at first."

Like other reviewers, Cha found the Pre?s keyboard to be small and "clearly not as easy to use as a Blackberry or some of Samsung?s and Nokia?s QWERTY devices..."

Users who want to sync PIM data from a Mac or PC desktop client will need to take a few additional steps to first sync their data to a Google account, which will then need to be linked to the Pre. Current Treo or other Palm phone users can take advantage of a free download from Palm, the Data Transfer Assistant, that will do a one-time transfer of data from your desktop PIM application.

Other reviews



For those interested, Gizmodo, Engadget and PCWorld have also weighed in on the Pre with their own reviews.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 275
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Can't wait to get one in the palm of my hand. Muuuuuooooaaaaaahhh!
  • Reply 2 of 275
    postulantpostulant Posts: 1,270member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    Can't wait to get one in the palm of my hand. Muuuuuooooaaaaaahhh!



    haha... I knew all the clamoring about video capture was a stunt.
  • Reply 3 of 275
    roos24roos24 Posts: 170member
    I've quoted this article here before:



    http://247wallst.com/2009/04/15/twel...ill-disappear/



    so let's see who will be laughing at the end of the year.
  • Reply 4 of 275
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    i've read they are still having a lot of problems with the SDK that accesses the hardware for things like games. supposedly it crashes the phone to the point where you have to restore your phone.



    Apple has it's problems, but it's pretty close to Blizzard in that they don't put out beta products most of the time. or they don't hype features they don't plan to fully implement for another year or so
  • Reply 5 of 275
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Postulant View Post


    haha... I knew all the clamoring about video capture was a stunt.



    No video capture, no Adobe Flash. If a 600GHz device with 256MB RAM from a company with a long history of smartphone and PDA knowledge can?t do it, it makes you wonder how Steve Jobs was able to keep that from appearing in the Pre. He must have since we?ve been informed for 2 years by certain people here that it?s super easy to do. That must be why he took a 6 month hiatus, he was on a secret mission to sabotage the Pre?s super easy video recording and Abode Flash plugin.
  • Reply 6 of 275
    hattighattig Posts: 830member
    Well it's good to know that Palm have stopped totally messing up.



    Also Mac users should feel comfortable with the rounded corners on the UI



    As a new system the software will have flaws, as did/does the iPhone. Sadly all that matters is right now, and in a month or two that will put webOS some way behind. Not as behind as the awful WinMob based devices, but Android and Symbian will be kicking around.



    Palm ought to license webOS for money, it might create a bigger market, and thus more software would be written, more people would buy, etc, etc.
  • Reply 7 of 275
    meelashmeelash Posts: 1,045member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Roos24 View Post


    I've quoted this article here before:



    http://247wallst.com/2009/04/15/twel...ill-disappear/



    so let's see who will be laughing at the end of the year.



    Ouch! You didn't have to kick them, everybody already knows they're down. Maybe I have a thing for underdogs, but I'd like to see the Pre at least keep Palm alive. They have made some good products in the (distant) past, after all.
  • Reply 8 of 275
    meelashmeelash Posts: 1,045member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    No video capture, no Adobe Flash. If a 600GHz device with 256MB RAM from a company with a long history of smartphone and PDA knowledge can?t do it, it makes you wonder how Steve Jobs was able to keep that from appearing in the Pre. He must have since we?ve been informed for 2 years by certain people here that it?s super easy to do. That must be why he took a 6 month hiatus, he was on a secret mission to sabotage the Pre?s super easy video recording and Abode Flash plugin.



    lol, nice!
  • Reply 9 of 275
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,562member
    Engadget by far had the best review of them all. It was VERY thorough.



    The operating system/interface appears top notch and the multi-tasking is the big seller for me. Too bad the build quality/materials aren't up to snuff.
  • Reply 10 of 275
    iworkiwork Posts: 6member
    Pre also comes free with Sprint Navigation (Telenav Maps) which provides turn-by-turn GPS navigation. Sprint TV is also included, though the channel selection is rather basic.



    I wonder whether AT&T would provide its Telenav turn-by-turn GPS for free, seeing as we are paying more than Sprint customers will be paying. Unfortunately, I doubt AT&T would make such a move as it would kill the market for alternative turn-by-turn apps.
  • Reply 11 of 275
    johnqhjohnqh Posts: 242member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    No video capture, no Adobe Flash. If a 600GHz device with 256MB RAM from a company with a long history of smartphone and PDA knowledge can’t do it, it makes you wonder how Steve Jobs was able to keep that from appearing in the Pre. He must have since we’ve been informed for 2 years by certain people here that it’s super easy to do. That must be why he took a 6 month hiatus, he was on a secret mission to sabotage the Pre’s super easy video recording and Abode Flash plugin.



    I will give you my guess.



    Video encoding and Flash playback requires heavy CPU usage, which Pre can handle, but will drain the battery in 40 minutes.



    So, the only elegant solution is to do it in hardware. I will bet the new iPhone will have a MPEG-4 encoding chip in it.



    Steve won't allow iPhone to do Flash for that reason. No other phone will do Flash (no matter how people moan and complain) for the same reason.



    Pre costs more than iPhone to make. Apple gets the volume discount, and hardware keyboard costs extra. Palm/Sprint set the price at $199 (AR) at the last minute and hope some people won't send in the rebate forms. I will also bet there is no video encoding chip in Pre, and thus no video recording.
  • Reply 12 of 275
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Postulant View Post


    haha... I knew all the clamoring about video capture was a stunt.



    Funny- right? No I just want to see it . Seems like it's decent for a first gen- you must agree. We can certainly give it a 2 year slack for video like the iPhone can't we?
  • Reply 13 of 275
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,103member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post


    Engadget by far had the best review of them all. It was VERY thorough.



    The operating system/interface appears top notch and the multi-tasking is the big seller for me. Too bad the build quality/materials aren't up to snuff.



    I agree, the Engadget review was fantastic. Very much enjoyed that read, as it was extremely well written.



    Honestly, all things considered, this looks like a fantastic device. I love my iPhone, but am objective enough to realize that the Pre does have it beat in many areas (just as the Pre is inferior in other areas). We'll see how the next iPhone changes the equation.



    But for now, I salute Palm for coming out with such a device. It makes a mockery of both WinMo and RIMs OS.
  • Reply 14 of 275
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    No video capture, no Adobe Flash. If a 600GHz device with 256MB RAM from a company with a long history of smartphone and PDA knowledge can?t do it, it makes you wonder how Steve Jobs was able to keep that from appearing in the Pre. He must have since we?ve been informed for 2 years by certain people here that it?s super easy to do. That must be why he took a 6 month hiatus, he was on a secret mission to sabotage the Pre?s super easy video recording and Abode Flash plugin.



    Apple the company that invented Quicktime - is that their excuse why they haven't had it?
  • Reply 15 of 275
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iWork View Post


    Pre also comes free with Sprint Navigation (Telenav Maps) which provides turn-by-turn GPS navigation. Sprint TV is also included, though the channel selection is rather basic.



    I wonder whether AT&T would provide its Telenav turn-by-turn GPS for free, seeing as we are paying more than Sprint customers will be paying. Unfortunately, I doubt AT&T would make such a move as it would kill the market for alternative turn-by-turn apps.



    I doubt it for TbT GPS, but U-Verse seems likely at some point, though for a fee. AT&T and Verizon don?t have to offer the same low-cost deals that T-Mobile and Sprint are doing just to stay afloat. With T-Mobile being so big outside the US, it?s really just Sprint that is in trouble here.
  • Reply 16 of 275
    johnqhjohnqh Posts: 242member
    How many Smart Phone OS do we have now? iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, WebOS, Android, Symbian.....



    Six major brands. It will get down to two or three in 5 years. All markets go through this consolidation.



    Which three will survive? Blackberry and iPhone will, and the rest will fight for the last spot.



    My prediction. Google will buy Palm and integrate the WebOS layer to Android, Both of them hare Linux based. Developers will have two ways to write apps for it - either through Google's Java SDK, or through WebOS's HTML/CSS/Javascript. The OS UI will use WebOS (since it looks much better than current Android).



    If that happens, Android/WebOS will have a very good chance. If not, separately, neither of them will survive.
  • Reply 17 of 275
    postulantpostulant Posts: 1,270member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    Funny- right? No I just want to see it . Seems like it's decent for a first gen- you must agree. We can certainly give it a 2 year slack for video like the iPhone can't we?



    Nice logic. Give the new guy on the block hell for not having video. Give the guy who has been in the game for ages a pass.

  • Reply 18 of 275
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by johnqh View Post


    How many Smart Phone OS do we have now? iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, WebOS, Android, Symbian.....



    Six major brands. It will get down to two or three in 5 years. All markets go through this consolidation.



    Which three will survive? Blackberry and iPhone will, and the rest will fight for the last spot.



    My prediction. Google will buy Palm and integrate the WebOS layer to Android, Both of them hare Linux based. Developers will have two ways to write apps for it - either through Google's Java SDK, or through WebOS's HTML/CSS/Javascript. The OS UI will use WebOS (since it looks much better than current Android).



    If that happens, Android/WebOS will have a very good chance. If not, separately, neither of them will survive.



    I like your prediction about Google buying WebOS and integrating it as an option part of the Android platform. Though I think that WinMo will live on simply because MS has the means to push it regardless of sales and that Nokia will either keep Symbian or move to a new OS that they create in-house. Nokia isn?t out of this by a long shot and I respect their CEO for admitting that the iPhone took them by surprise and that they need to focus on a better OS and UI. I think that lack of hubris is a good omen for Nokia?s future.
  • Reply 19 of 275
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Postulant View Post


    Nice logic. Give the new guy on the block hell for not having video. Give the guy who has been in the game for ages a pass.





    Apple invented Quicktime for god's sake! What the hell has Palm ever had to do with video?
  • Reply 20 of 275
    coffeetimecoffeetime Posts: 116member
    So, the Pre's battery life sucks. What a surprise! Didn't Apple say all along that they could do multitasking on the iPhone, but battery life would be severely impacted, and that was a compromise that they didn't want to make? As Mr. Spock once said, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." In this case, Apple is betting that "the many" represents basic phone use over the course of a day or two, and "the few" would be the few times that the ability to multitask would be handy. I think that's a reasonable bet. Also, the iPhone CAN multitask to a certain degree - how else can you listen to music in the background while playing a game or surfing the web.



    Having said all of that, I'd like to see Palm succeed and stay in the game. More choice is always good for the consumer.
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