Palm Pre, the smartphone that Palm hopes will revive its ailing fortunes and provide a viable smartphone competitor to Apple's iPhone and Research In Motion's BlackBerry, was reviewed by The Boy Genius Report. Apparently, the Pre has some innovative and interesting features, but it also has a few quirks that could prevent it from becoming a full-on iPhone killer.
When the Palm Pre finally makes its much-anticipated rollout on June 6, it
will directly challenge high-profile smartphones from competitors ranging from
Apple's iPhone to Research In Motion's BlackBerry line.
If an early review posted on The Boy Genius Report is any indication, Palm
has delivered a solid entry to the smartphone market with some neat features,
but a few flaws may prevent the Pre from being fully accepted as an iPhone
However, the phone does offer some outstanding qualities, according to the
"The screen is where the Palm Pre shines. Selections take little to no
effort and there's that oh-so-magical water ripple effect when actually
touching the display. It's vibrant, rich and all around really clear."
The overall size of the device was also praised, even though the keyboard is
apparently small to the point of making typing difficult, even for an
experienced smartphone user. As for the phone's overall "feel," the
report felt there was something to be desired:
"It really seems to be constructed with lower-grade materials compared
to other flagship phones. One of the things that might be throwing us off is
that it just feels so light."
And while the test phone came without some functionality loaded, the Pre's
OS is "off to a great start." Battery life is
"decent," capable of running for 2.5 hours on a 30 percent
Jon Rubinstein, executive chairman at Palm, said during the seventh annual
D: All Things Digital conference in California
that Apple was an influence on the design of the Pre.
"I worked with [Apple co-founder] Steve [Jobs] for many years and
learned a tremendous amount from him, the value of user experience and design taste,"
Rubinstein said, according to the conference's official site. "On the
engineering side, I helped create the engineering culture at Apple, so
obviously, the engineering culture at Palm bears some similarities to
During an onstage discussion during the conference, Rubinstein was careful
to draw differences between the Pre and the Apple iPhone, referring to Apple's
device as a feature phone as opposed to an integrated device. The Pre, he
suggested, is a truly integrated device.
In April 2009, Palm
finally released the specs for the Pre. In addition to the Palm WebOS
operating system, the phone features a 3.1-inch touch-screen with a 320-by-480
resolution HVGA display, a physical QWERTY keyboard, built-in GPS,
and a 3-megapixel camera with LED flash and extended depth of field.
For wireless connectivity, the 4.76-ounce Pre supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g with
WPA, WPA2 and 802.1X authentication. It has 8GB of user storage and USB
mass storage support, a microUSB connector with USB
2.0 high-speed, and can be wirelessly charged.
For music aficionados,
the Pre's MP3 player will sync with Apple's iTunes software on the user's PC or
Mac via a USB cable, and transfer any DRM-free music, photos and video onto
the mobile device. That same USB connection will also allow the Pre to function
as a hard drive, with users able to drag-and-drop content from desktop or
laptop to phone.
When questioned at the D: All Things Digital conference on May 28, Roger
McNamee, managing director of major Palm investor Elevation Partners, seemed
somewhat unconcerned about the prospect of Apple attacking Palm for having an
iTunes sync feature.
"We're recognizing their market dominance," McNamee said onstage,
"and they can't tell people what to do with their music."
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.