Sun, 12 Jul 2009 Palm Pre (US) review
New operating system has a lot to like, but is coupled with sub-standard hardware
- Manufacturer: Palm
- Distributor: 02
- Pros: Multitasking card interface lets you run many programs at once; unified email Inbox; message flagging; iTunes media syncing; excellent notifications system; multitouch gestures; Synergy contact system good when it works.
- Cons: Often unintuitive interface; cheap-feeling hardware construction; poor hardware user interface design; physical keyboard is difficult to use; Synergy contact system doesn't always work as advertised; touch screen is not always responsive.
- Min specs: UK pricing to be confirmed, Palm Pre will only be available on O2.
- Price: TBC
- Star rating:
The good, the bad, the ugly
I could run down every single feature the Pre has, but as several other venues have taken the time to do that, let me focus on a few specific things that the device does well and a few it does poorly. For the most part, the feature list of the Pre is pretty close to the iPhone and the G1. But there are some places where I found the Pre to offer functions that the iPhone did not, and vice versa.
The Pre’s mail client is pretty similar to the iPhone’s, but it adds in a couple of features I’ve been longing for on the iPhone. For one thing, if you have multiple email accounts, you can choose to display a unified inbox that collects the new mail for all of those accounts into one.
You still have the individual inboxes for each account as well, but if you just want to skim all the mail you've recently received, it’s easy to do so. The mail client also allows you to flag messages you might want to go back later and it provides a single mailbox that lets you easily view flagged messages in all your accounts. Even better, the flag-state syncs to your other clients, so when I looked later, the same messages were flagged in Mail on my MacBook.
I did run into one major problem with the mail program, however: despite much playing with configurations, I could not get it to talk to my work email account, which uses an IMAP server based on Notes. I added several other accounts, including Gmail, MobileMe, and a personal IMAP account, all with no problems.
I also like the Pre’s integrated search feature. Start typing when you’re in the card view and it’ll bring up search results from your contacts and applications. If it doesn’t match there, it’ll pop up buttons to let you search Google, Google Maps, Wikipedia, and Twitter. It would be nice if this was a little more extensible—I’m always looking up things on IMDb, for example—but it’s handy.
The Pre’s got a nifty reminder feature, where you can add a reminder onto a person’s contact information. Sure, the iPhone lets you do that with notes, but the Pre actually pops up that reminder the next time you call or message that contact (or get a call or message from them), so you can remember to ask about, say, that recipe you wanted.
The calendar program has a neat feature where it compresses unused time accordion-style so you can see more of your appointments; I also appreciated that the Pre lets you easily use any song in your media library as a ringtone, a feature it seems like the iPhone should have had from day one.