Palm Pre: 3 Things We Like & 3 Things We Don't

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 (s S) 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.┬áHere 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 (s AAPL) and Android (s GOOG) 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.