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Summary:

After six long months, Palm’s Pre is here. And I do mean here — I woke early and headed to a local Sprint store this morning. Availability reports vary by location; some stores have large lines and small quantities of stock, while others (like mine) have […]

palm-pre-gigaomAfter six long months, Palm’s Pre is here. And I do mean here — I woke early and headed to a local Sprint store this morning. Availability reports vary by location; some stores have large lines and small quantities of stock, while others (like mine) have short lines and plenty of Pre to go around. Our early impressions are generally favorable: In what may be the bottom of the ninth, Palm has delivered the beginnings of a comeback with the Pre and WebOS. Here are three things we like and dislike about Palm Pre. 3 things to like:

  • Overall experience: You can tell that Palm took a page from Apple’s playbook here. The well-designed hardware meshes with the efficient software like a fine Merlot paired with a perfect filet. The packing offers an elegant and refined first impression.
  • Synergy: Setting up accounts for email is a breeze, and once completed, Synergy kicks in to grab contacts and calendars from the cloud. The sync is fast and flawless from my initial observation.
  • WebOS multitasking and notifications: Once I started running multiple apps and switching among them, I started to wonder how I lived without this for nearly two years on my iPhone. And when emails started to arrive, my multiple app workflow wasn’t disrupted at all. Notifications are effective but don’t nag.

3 things not to like:

  • App Catalog: Similar to the initial iPhone and Android launches, the software cupboard is bare, with only a dozen apps or so. Smartphones without apps are just expensive feature phones these days, so Palm needs to get the Mojo SDK out the door.
  • Heat: I’ve noticed that the Pre gets hot much faster than any other phone I’ve used. Then again, this isn’t uncommon with CDMA handsets. In addition, keep an eye on the battery life.
  • A 1.0 product: Like first versions of many products, the Pre needs time to mature. It’s a beauty on the surface, but doesn’t yet offer the breadth or depth of competing products. Pre is a hot rookie pitcher called up from the minors: plenty of potential if realistic expectations are kept in check.

The Pre is by no means perfect, but Palm has laid the groundwork for what could turn out to be the closest competitor to Apple’s iPhone yet. And in some ways, the Pre already exceeds it. You can read our detailed impressions on jkOnTheRun. Be sure to follow up in order to read our rolling coverage of Palm Pre.

  1. [...] Interesting bit Gigaom says about Palm Pre in its discussion on 3 ups and 3 downs of the phone. [...]

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  2. Going by the numbers, I think it’s a little inaccurate to say that the Pre’s selection of add-on apps is “similar” to the iPhone’s initial catalog. The discussion about quality vs quantity notwithstanding, I believe Apple had around 500 apps reader when the App Store opened in July 2008. The App Store has its fair share of problems (and then some), but Palm doesn’t seem have organized its app catalog launch very well at all.

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    1. “reader,” or “ready,” same difference. That’s what I get for commenting at 1:30am after a long day. :)

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      1. You could have just said you were using your iPhone to comment on the article. That would explain the bad grammer. :-)

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    2. David,

      When exactly did the App Store launch in relation to iPhone’s launch?

      How long were early iPhone adopters only able to use high-angled webpages and call them “apps” and nothing more?

      Seriously, compare Apples with Apples. When the iPhone launch, there was no App Store. Not for a while.

      At least in its launch, the Pre can multi-task and copy and paste. It’s almost as good in basic features as my old Treo 650. (what the hell happened to video?)

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    3. David, I think Kevin means to compare to the original iPhone’s launch back in 2007 (hard to believe it’s been 2 years already!)

      Anyone who doesn’t have an iPhone yet will no doubt pause & look @ the Palm Pre unless Apple once again changes the game (which I fully expect them to do on Monday). They could go for the jugular by dropping the price :-/

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    4. David, as a first-gen iPhone owner, I’m talking about the lack of standalone apps when the original iPhone launched. Just clarifying.

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    5. The App Catalog is a BETA

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  3. Joseph Stiles Sunday, June 7, 2009

    David remind me how many Apps Apple had when it first launched the Iphone? How long before it finally even got an App store? Your arguement is disengenious to say the least Well we could always add in the 30,000 legacy apps Pre has already, many which are far better then a great deal of the thousands of crap me too apps in the APPLE app store. 10 or 15 of the same idiotic app is well Idiotic.I am not trying to down Apple even but using double standards real sucks so stop doing it.I really hate when these jerk off bloggers push that agenda. OM MALIK is a huge Pre ater and has already used that bullsh1t in his last article.NO wonder not many people read giga

    The battry life has already been talked about and found a bug already in the system that is worked out by disconnecting the Googe im ap from the Aol oneThis increased the longevity of the battery quite a bit.Also seido already has an availabe 1350mah battery that fits the PRE http://software.palminfocenter.com/productaccessories.asp?id=21923&n=Seidio-1350mAh-OEM-Sized-Extended-Battery So people can buy an extended extra battery for those times when youwant to quickly swap them out. How many batteries are made for the Iphone for wapping out are there after 2 years? NONE you say? Oh OK.

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  4. There is one thing that has been bugging me for a while. Why is it so important for the Pre to be a iphone killer or at least comparable to the iphone?
    Yes, the iphone is a very good device and yes it has a great success, but it’s not the only good phone out there.
    I use a curve and don’t feel the need for any other fancy stuff.
    I’ll be happy when someone comes out with a phone that is better than the curve.

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  5. The OS is the Great Unknown – and while Palm’s original success was based on an OS they got right (along with a fan base that created some terrific – and often free – software), they are going to have to do a lot of work to encourage users to use ‘yet another’ OS – and how well that functions in a smartphone and not just a PDA. Certainly they had mixed results migrating their old OS into the Treo.

    But the bigger concerns with the Pre and Palm is the build quality and Support – both areas that Palm has had, well….patchy success with for several years – and whether they repeat the error of spinning off portions of the product to uninterested 3rd parties (as they did with PalmSource and they, ACCESS with the OS and Palm Desktop), essentially leaving no one to take responsibility for the device.

    I wish Palm well on this if it is their intent to really make the effort with the Pre, even if they’ve shown an uncanny ability to shoot themselves in the foot so many times in the past. But I may just not give up on my TX anytime soon.

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  6. [...] tests the palm pre. And here is the unboxing [...]

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  7. Keith Herrington Sunday, June 7, 2009

    iPhone app store launch is a bad comparison, it was late to the game. The Pre, like the G1, had limited apps but at least the G1 had a fully open sdk that had been used by the community and commercial guys alike.

    I have a Pre. I am a current Curve(8330) user and have been hoping the Pre will can replace everything I do on the Curve, SSH/Email/IM/twitter/gmaps/web. In that order. It’s mainly for communication. I have been excited for the Pre and after playing with it all day I have to say it’s pretty sweet. Multitasking is a breeze! With that said the above review hit the nail on the head exactly: iphone converts will grumble since the UI is not as easy to use.

    Once Mojo SDK is out we can see the power, see if an ssh exists. Until then, I don’t think I can give up my Curve just yet, even though the OS feels slow and antiquated, especially after using webOS. Everything else, while might be more limited, is close to my blackberry experience, with the exception of exchange, which won’t work with my funky setup work has.. yet.

    Infosync has a good review as well, but mistakenly thins the button on the front is a trackball. I wish.

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  8. I am curious why an iPhone owner for two years would switch to the Palm Pre mere days before the announcement of the next iPhone. I would tend to think that in that situation most people would have waited a few days to see how the new offerings stacked up. Care to comment?

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    1. The next iPhone is already a known quantity: a 3G iPhone with a magnetometer, and possibly a front-facing camera, more memory, and/or a slightly faster processor (like the iPod Touch already has).

      The details of the 3.0 firmware have already been given, and it doesn’t meaningfully change the Pre v. iPhone value equation. There will still be no multitasking. Exchange support will still be weak, and there will still be nothing to contend with Synergy on the Pre. Still no physical keyboard.

      I’m not saying that one is better than the other, but if you’re sold on the Pre’s features, there’s nothing about iPhone 3.0 that will make a meaningful difference. Sure, the iPhone will have better iPod functionality, and a much richer app catalog. It also have have better 3rd party hardware support (docks, cases, etc.). It will still be on AT&T (for better or worse).

      It’s sort of fun to play the “what will Apple announce” game, but there’s already enough information out there to decide whether a Pre or an iPhone is right for you. The only unknown is whether Apple will announce the low-cost, 10″ tablet that has been rumored for the last year. There won’t be any iPhone surprises.

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    2. As I’ve written at the jkOTR blog and mentioned in our weekly podcast many times over the past several months: I’ll likely be upgrading my first-gen iPhone in July with the anticipated new model. When I bought my Pre, it was a new line and I did not port my AT&T number. I bought the Pre (and will buy the iPhone) for work purposes as a mobile tech blogger. If I were a regular consumer that wanted a single line only, it would be a different story.

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  9. In 2007, no one had an app store. Yes, Palm had an app platform for years on which customers could install any apps they want. But the centralized, convenient app store model that comes straight from the horse’s mouth didn’t exist anywhere. That’s what needs to be compared here. Not extended batteries or copy and paste or whatever feature you’re just dying to have—we’re talking about an App Store.

    The Pre’s App Catalog launch really needs to be stacked up against the launches of Android Market, BlackBerry App World, and iPhone App Store. I don’t own a Pre (yet). But as an iPhone owner who worries that Apple is falling behind in UI and design (two areas the company bases its reputation on, nonetheless), I am extremely interested in checking one out.

    Nevertheless, Apple raised the bar quite high with the launch and success of the App Store. So far, the Pre App Catalog doesn’t sound like it had enough time to stack up to the new competition. I hear Palm is working its tail off to nail this, and that’s great. It’s an extremely important feature of new smartphones, and I’m excited to see Palm take this big chance to rise back to fame.

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  10. Pretty good discussion. Only 1 whining troll.

    Looked at one of these. The heat makes it a No Sale if you intend to carry it in a pocket.

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