It’s a phone, it’s a music player, it’s a camera, it’s a Palm Pre. Is it good at any of those tasks? I have been trying these feature for the past couple of days and here are the results…
Before I get into anything else, I did want to mention that I haven’t experienced any more weird battery suckage issues like I did the other day. No major hardware issues lately either…
The Palm Pre as a… phone
Today let’s make some calls, receive some calls, play some music and take some pix with the built in 3 megapixel camera.
Initiating a phone call requires two steps at a minimum. If the Pre is already awake and in the card view, you can just press the Green call icon and then start tapping the number you want to dial. If you want to search by name, slide open the keyboard and a list of matching contacts will appear and filter as you type. You can also assign speed dial numbers to the numbers on the touch pad and hold them down to call.
If your phone is idle and a call is received, the display will look like the image above. I assumed by the image that I would be able to press the hardware button to answer the call. Ummmm…. nope. So ok, I thought then just tap the call button on the screen to answer the call. No again. You have to slide the call button up as you would do to unlock the phone. Argh… I hate this as it’s sometimes hard to do with one hand and your thumb. Especially while driving. Yeah, yeah, I still don’t use a Bluetooth headset all the time.
If the phone is awake, this is what you’ll see. A simple tap of the Green or Red buttons will answer or end a call.
If I had an image set for myself, it would show up, but otherwise, you see the little person shape. This is the during call display. You can switch to speaker phone, mute, go to the dial pad or add another person to the call for a conference. The Pre has a proximity sensor, so when you have the phone up to your face, the screen will turn off. Pull it away and it turns back on. Wonder where they got that idea? Hmmmm 😉
If you miss a call and turn on your phone, you’ll see something like this. I thought the notification system was really nifty for about 1 day. Now I’m over it. It seems to get in my way more than help me.
Tap the missing call button to see more info and call the person back if you desire.
Small icons in the bottom right corner will also remind you of missing calls, voice mails and other notifications. BTW, I can’t get rid of the darned alarm icon no matter what I do. I had set a timer the other day to remind me when to take a lasagna out of the oven. Now it’s stuck there even though I’ve deleted the alarm. Grrrrrr…
There’s a standard call log screen that lists outgoing and missed calls.
Call quality with the Pre, even while roaming, seems to be much better than what I’m used to with my GSM phones on AT&T. My calls with the Pre have been significantly better sounding. That said, Sprint reception here isn’t very good. At my home, it’s roaming 100% of the time. At my work I’m not roaming, but I have had numerous times when I would call the Pre with my desk phone or AT&T phone and the calls would go to straight to voice mail even when the Pre shows 2 bars. I don’t know if this is a Sprint issue or a Pre issue.
Update: I figured out that this only happens when I’m doing data on the Pre. If I’m loading a webpage or doing something that is accessing data, incoming phone calls go straight to voice mail. I’m wondering if this is because I don’t have 3G here.
For any iPhone users out there thinking of jumping ship to get a Pre, you should know that the Pre doesn’t have visual voice mail. Not that the lack of that feature would be a deal breaker for me. But once you’ve used it, you realize just how handy it is.
So for phone calls, I’m not real impressed with the Pre. Although call quality is very good, I hate not being able to make or answer a call with a actual physical button. I guess I’m just too old school about some things 😉
The Pre as a digital audio player
Loading and playing your favorite music on the Pre is easy.
Just plug the Pre into your computer with the USB cable. Then tap the USB Drive button and the Pre will mount like a flash drive. Drag and drop folders of your music onto the Pre. Unplug and then launch the Music player.
You can also use the Media Sync option, which will load iTunes on your computer and allow you to sync with that.
The music player is not unlike other media players. In other words, you’re not going to have any problems figuring out how to use it. You can view music by artist, albums, songs, genres or playlists. There’s also a link for the Amazon MP3 store in the player. More about Amazon in a bit…
If you have album art with your music, it shows up in the various lists.
The now playing screen can be seen in album art view…
Or song list view. That light blue progress bar to the left of the top song will fill in the whole row as the song plays.
Since the Palm Pre multitasks, you can play music while you surf or do other things. Nifty.
If you need a new song fix, you can go to the Amazon MP3 store and buy some with your Pre.
The interface for the store is easy to navigate.
It has a search feature – of course.
You can buy albums or songs, which will be charged to the credit card that you have on file with Amazon.com.
The Pre as a camera
I was anxious to try out the Pre’s built in 3 megapixel camera. I was encouraged by the fact that it has a built in LED flash.
When you launch the camera application, you’re put in viewfinder mode by default. My screenshot didn’t capture the live view finder, but you get the idea. The interface is very simplistic. There’s a green shutter button and the flash button that toggles between always on, never on and auto on. The other button launches the photo viewer.
Photos are separated into photo roles, all images, screen captures and wallpapers.
Images are shown in thumbnails that can be then shown full screen, zoomed, etc.
Here are some sample pix that you can check out. Click on them to see the full sized images.
The camera takes ok pictures indoors and outdoors, but you can forget macro shots. Darn. I always like a phone with a camera that can take good close up pix because I sometimes like to snap pictures of product labels, magazine ads, etc when I’m at a store.
The camera also doesn’t record video… boo. You can’t change the resolution (which is 1520 x 2032), zoom, etc. either.
I’ve had the Palm Pre for 5 days now and so far I have to tell you that not in love with it. I am still loving the size and the display, but the rest is just ok for me. I was hoping to be wowed the way I was when I first tried an iPhone. That’s the whole thing, so far the Pre is too much like an iPhone for me. Yeah, it has some features that the iPhone doesn’t have like a real keyboard and multi-tasking. But other than those two main features, I’m not yet thinking that I can’t live without this phone. Maybe I’ll change my mind before the week is over though. We’ll see…
I plan to cover quite a bit in my next post:
- Built-in video applications
- App Catalog
- Classic emulator
- PIM syncing