Preamble: INNTW reviews the Pre 2
I had an rough relationship with the Palm Pre last year, I loved the platform but in the end swapped it for an iPhone 4. The reasons were simple, poor quality hardware and sub par performance.
As highlighted in my earlier posts, I dont tend to use many apps, sure on my iPhone I have plenty installed but my core are twitter, facebook and safari. Secondary Apps are lightbike and kindle. Shocking I know, but those are my main uses of both my iPhone and my iPad.
Kindle is coming to webos but sadly I think light bike is but a dream…
Still I had the Pre – for around two weeks and it went from being a techno joy to being just plain annoying, I suspect that the fact that although my app need were satisfied, ‘this was as good as it gets’ put a dampner on things. Combine this with the dissapointing build quality and sluggish performance (I did overclock it but I feel it should be optional rather than mandatory) meant that the Pre and I were doomed.
So why am I posting about the Pre 2? Well as said I’m a big fan of the WebOS platform and when Palm announced it was setting up a developer device program, I signed up immediately. A couple of months later (due to the overwhelming popularity of the program) and I recieved my Pre 2.
So what’s it like? Pretty impressive.
It corrects many of the Pre’s deficiencies, the touchstone coating over the entire surface of the Pre makes it much nicer to hold, I suspect it will pick up less scratches that the hard plastic of the Pre -. Further enhancing the Pre 2 is the redesign of the front of the phone. These consist of two changes, first (and arguably most importantly) a change to a Gorilla Glass screen. The plastic screen of the Pre – was a real let down for me, it just made it feel cheap and it scratched incredibly easily. The other major change is recessing the ear piece, it’s a simple change but it creates a very iPhone like appearence and brings the Pre 2 closer to a premium device.
The keyboard is much improved, I had found myself getting more and more frustrated with the onscreen keyboard of the iPhone 4, so the transition was welcome. The key action is more satisfying and I find myself making far less mistakes, the cheese grater edge is still present. However, the slider seems to be the same sadly and there is ‘Oreo shimmy’ present, which jars slightly with the rest of the improvements, I don’t have great confidence that the Pre 2 will handle a short fall any better than the original.
Performance is a strange combination of improved and sluggish, launching apps is much improved and TMC has not reared it head just yet. The touchscreen seems to be far less accurate than that of the iPhone 4, I’m not sure of the reason but I find that in some instances, multiple presses are required to make the phone recognise the button press. There are also noticeable pauses when using the gesture area, especially if you switch on ‘advance gestures’.
Now lets get on to the important bit, software.
The changes in WebOS are stunning, I love just type.
It enables me to quickly and easily find/search both locally and on the internet. For example If I wanted to find out where Pecroino Sardo came for, I simply swipe up and start typing and I can choose to search for it using twitter, wikipedia and the internet. I can also instantly see how many emails and messages contain that term. You can also add custom search engines (e.g. WordPress), if a website supports just type a notification will pop up at the bottom of the screen and you can install it.
Stacks, are a simple but very well thought out idea. As we know WebOS is a true multitasking OS but having multiple cards open can make linked information hard to track. Stacks solve this by stacking (shocking I know!) related items on top of each other. So if I have an email with a hyperlink in it, if I choose to open that link it will stay with that email rather than go to the end of the card list. Both are brilliant ideas and available no where else, these are the features that HP need to be screaming from billboards, but that’s a different subject for another time.
Overall the Pre 2 is an improvement, its not perfect but I am making it my main phone, which is as close to a ringing endorsement as you can get.
This post is a day late, mostly as I was nursing quite a large hangover which meant the creative juices weren’t exactly flowing.
So how has it gone?
So far so good, I managed to get the phone set up play with the gesture tutorial and then I started with Synergy. Big mistake on my part as I had forgotten to sync my contacts to my sim card prior to resetting my iPhone which meant that the ones the Pre now had were at least a year out of date.
For those unfamilar with ‘Synergy’ its Palm ethos that you should be able to sync all of your contacts from a range of different sources(Facebook, Gmail, Sim card etc) which is great in theroy but can lead to frustrations. Namely the fact I have ALL of my Facebook friends on my contacts list, which is fine for me as I’m a big proponent of ‘Friend Culls’ meaning that most of my friends in Facebook are actually people I physically know. The big drawback is that once you’ve added your facebook contacts, you can’t delete them from your contact list without deleting them from facebook first. This is further compounded by the fact that not everyone has their mobile numbers in Facebook (I certainly don’t) which creates a fair number of useless entries that just seek to take up space in your phonebook and you can’r remove.
So the first half hour of the my life with the Pre was spent sorting out the large mess of contacts into one list (lots of clicking, copying pasting and deleting), not the best way to be introduced to the phone.
Afterwards I setup my App Catalog account and put a card onto it, which almost didn’t work because the App Catalog only appears to accept Visa and Mastercard, luckily it seem to accept my Visa Debit card and all was well, I’m getting a feeling that this lack of clarity on certain sections is going to be an every present theme during my time with the Pre. So now I was all set up and good to go, it was time to get some Apps, now I know the App Catalog is threadbare in comparison to the iPhone and I had indentified that I only really use three core apps (Facebook, Twitter and Web browsing), all of which are easily available via the Pre (I’ve selected Bad Kitty as my twitter client of choice). I haven’t really spent much time looking at other apps although I may later on today.
I should take a minute to talk about the keyboard, its not great but I’m certainly getting used to it although I’m not nearly as fast as with an iPhone and the lack of autocorrect is a major oversight by Palm. On a side note its a lot harder to type on when you’re in bed as the slider makes the phone top heavy leading to potential a TKO as you inevitably drop the phone on your forehead.
But this all sounds a bit negative right? There are many things that I love about this phone. I love the feel of the phone in my hand, many reviews have made mention of the polished stone feel of the Pre and I heartily agree, its very satisfying to hold. Another is its beautiful approach to multitasking and the coup de grace, its notification system. Now I can understand if you don’t quite have a passion for smart notifications that I do, but that’s because you may not have been an iPhone user. Let me explain, Palm and Apple have two distinctly different approaches to how they think you should be informed of something happening on your phone. Palm method can be equated to being gently tapped on the shoulder and discretely informed that you have a new text message by popping up a small notification at the bottom of the phone. Apple prefer to use a modal pop up that is akin to being grabbed by the shoulders and told HEY YOU HAVE A MESSAGE, READ THE MESSAGE, COME ON READ IT NOW!!!!!!! It will also not release control of the screen until you’ve either read it (closing your existing app and opening the message one) or dismissing it and returning to whatever it was that you were doing. Nothing makes me angrier than crashing during a race just because someone text me and that’s the reason I switched from the iPhone.
So at the end of the first day I’m up and running but apart from the notifications system, I’m not bowled over but that’s not to say I don’t like the phone, far from it. It currently satisfies most of my smartphone requirements, the question is can I find something to keep me here as the iPhone 4 is looming large in my mind.
That’s the mission kids, we’re about a week and a bit away from the iPhone launch and I’m still tempted but I think I will give the Pre a month to prove itself.
After all the iPhone will always be there.
Finally got back from Belfast at 11pm, I treated myself to 2 double cheese burgers, small fries and a small coke at the airport (about a million calories, but I’m going running tonight so it should balance out), 19 hour days on 2 hours sleep are awesome!
Anyhow, moving on.
With yesterdays post about app stores being the ties that bind us to a particular platform I decided to put my money where my mouth is.
As you may know I sold my iPhone 3G a couple of days ago and am now phoneless (save for a work blackberry), my plan was to get this:
As it would do for now and the plan was going really well until I got the o2 shop and they said they wouldn’t sell it without £10 credit, which means the phone becomes £20 and much less tempting. I then played with a couple of phones, including the new Pre Plus and left the store, resolute in my new plan, to not have a phone.
But during yesterdays trip to belfast, it would have been nice not to have to bring out my laptop just to check my email (I know a stunning observation) and a BlackBerry Curve isn’t the greatest phone to use. So I then thought of a third plan: I could get a new smartphone on contract, use it for two weeks and then return it during the cooling off period and get an iPhone, genius eh? Except that the week of the iPhone launch I’m in Blackburn doing training meaning I wouldn’t be able to send the phone back.
I’d just got into bed last night and was at that point where I was so tired that I couldn’t sleep, so out came the hackintosh for some idle surfing.
And lo I surfed high and low, forums, blogs, wiki’s and then inevitably to eBay. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Pre of late, no phone has really captured my ADD attention like it, but they are all too expensive £160-170 (far too much to play around with) and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to sell it on for the same price. So I do what anyone would do, I started messaging people on ebay asking them for BIN or if they would reduce their asking price.
I wasn’t expecting any takers at my offer of £120 + pnp but you gotta chance your luck sometimes.
And then, something unexpected happened, I got a bite. I knew it was worth a shot being that the Pre is deffinatly a phone unloved by the masses (but with a solid if tiny hardcore developer community) and with the new iPhone coming people are probably looking to shift handsets quickly but still.
So I’ve got a 2 month old Pre £120, its coming tomorrow and no doubt you think I’m crazy but lets look at the TCO:
LG dumbphone £20 (£10 phone with £10 useless credit as I’m on contract)
Palm Pre £120
Now, on looking at it the Pre is far more expensive but I did get it cheap and I know I can sell it for at least £100 in three weeks time. Making the total cost of ownership (less shipping and app purchases), £20.
And I don’t know about you but I think that’s pretty decent price to pay.