There aren’t too many mornings that I wake up excited about a particular gadget. The last time I remember such a morning was June 29th, 2007. That was the day the first iPhone went on sale. My alarm was set early this morning so that I could get to my local Sprint store by 8am to buy a Palm Pre. Anticipation for a new gadget and anticipation to see something new and exciting from Palm, both made it worth the effort to wake up at 6:30am on a Saturday morning. I’ve been waiting to get my hands on this phone for months. My plan is to bring you along for the ride as I use it for a week. Let’s see if Palm has a winner with the Pre or if it’s too little too late for the once king of the PDA.
I should start out by telling you that I’ve been a diehard fan of Palm since their first PDA (the Palm Pilot 1000) back in 1996. For years, my love for the OS caused me to buy each new device as they were released. Then at some point, the OS became stale along with the hardware. The once leader of this genre of devices started to fall behind. Remember when Palm started putting Windows Mobile on their Treos? It was like stumbling into Superman’s Bizarro world. Although I never lost my love for the Palm platform, I did almost lose hope that they would never again be as successful as they once were. Then the Palm Pre was announced and the flame of hope flickered for me again.
Operating System: Palm webOS v1.0.2
Processor: TI OMAP 3430, 600MHz CPU
Memory: 8GB flash storage built-in, 7.2GB available out of the box
Display: 3.1-inch touch screen with a 24-bit color 320×480 resolution HVGA display
Wireless: 3G EvDO rev A, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with A2DP stereo Bluetooth support, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g with WPA, WPA2, WEP, 802.1X authentication
Digital Camera: 3 megapixel camera with LED flash and extended depth of field
Expansion Slot: none
Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion
Size: 3.9 x 2.3 x 0.67 inches
Weight: 4.76 ounces
Palm Pre Smartphone
USB AC Adapter
Getting Started Guides
This Day 1 post will mainly be my first impressions of the hardware. I won’t be able to report accurately on call quality, reception, etc until Monday as Sprint coverage here at my house is weak. Actually it doesn’t exist… I’m in the grey / roaming area. Another caveat of this review is the fact that we don’t even have EVDO for Sprint here yet. That said, let’s get started.
Here’s a stackup view of the Pre in between the iPhone and Centro.
In hand it feels pretty light, but solid. The smooth rounded edges make it comfortable to hold. Shaking it reveals no rattles and squeezing it didn’t crack anything 😉
The size is very pocket friendly. The only thing I worry about is the durability of the front display. Since it’s not glass like the iPhone, I’ll probably want a screen protector to avoid scratches.
The Pre is made of Black plastic and is very shiny. You know what that means… fingerprints and smudges. Argh. The front has a pleasing minimalist design that I like. A flush display, earphone, microphone and center button are all you see.
Flip the phone over to see the rear side. The back cover that comes with the Pre is made of the same shiny Black plastic as the rest of the phone. In the image above, I have the back cover that came with the Touchstone charger installed. It has a soft matte finish instead of a shiny hard plastic finish. You can also see the built in speaker, camera lens and the LED flash above it.
A side view reveals the slightly curved bottom of the phone. The Left side has a one piece volume adjustment rocker switch.
The Right side has a covered micro USB connector.
The micro USB connector cover is tethered to the phone and swivels to allow you to connect the included cable for charging. It’s kind of a pain in the butt to unsnap the cover and move it out of the way when you want to charge the device. Covers like this one annoy me and I’d probably permanently remove it. Luckily there’s the Touchstone charging option. More about that later.
The top of the Pre has a standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack (yay!), mute switch and the Power / wake up button. The mute switch has ridges across the top that make it easy to toggle on and off. The phone will vibrate to let you know that you’ve switched states. The power / wake button is on the corner of the phone and is slightly raised, making it easy to find with your finger.
The only thing on the bottom edge of the Pre is the back cover latch.
The face of the phone slides up to reveal a backlit QWERTY keyboard. If you turn the phone over when the keyboard is visible, you’ll notice a handy mirror. Great for self portraits or primping 🙂
Here is a side view with the keyboard exposed. The actual sliding mechanism is just so-so in my opinion. It’s not as effortless to operate as the dual slider on the Pantech Matrix Pro that I’ve been using lately. Sliding the top half of the phone up requires you to press up on the display with your thumb. Since the front is so slick, it’s sometimes hard to get enough friction to open it one handed. I have the same issue with closing it.
The keys on the Pre are somewhere in between the Treo 680 and the Centro. The size of the keyboard is similar to the Treo and has a slight curve/smile layout. But the Treo has hard keys, and the Pre has soft plastic keys like the Centro.
The keys are quite flat, but the size and layout feels roomy enough for thumb typing.
I have noticed that the keys have a slightly squeaky, creaky, plastic sound when you press them.
I also wanted to mention that the round select button below the display is not a scroll ball like you find on Blackberry phones or the Android G1. Unfortunately it’s just a button.
Ok, those are my super fast first impressions of the new Palm Pre. Just enough info for you stick around for my next post. The next installment will cover:
- The user interface, touch screen, gestures, etc.
- Web browser
- Touchstone charger