Palm Pre Review Roundup

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David Pogue, leaked by the Financial Chronicle, at The New York Times:

So do the Pre’s perks (beautiful hardware and software, compact size, keyboard, swappable battery, flash, multitasking, calendar consolidation) outweigh its weak spots (battery life, slow program opening, ringer volume, Sprint network)? Oh, yes indeedy. Especially when you consider that last weak spot might be going away. Verizon Wireless has announced that it will carry the Pre ”in the next six months or so.”

Steven Levy, at Wired:

It’s a huge win … The Pre emphatically shows that Palm has not reached the stage of suffixes. And multitasking rules!

Walt Mossberg, at the Wall Street Journal:

The Pre is a smart, sophisticated product that will have particular appeal for those who want a physical keyboard. It is thoughtfully designed, works well and could give the iPhone and BlackBerry strong competition — but only if it fixes its app store and can attract third-party developers.

Joshua Topolsky, at Engadget:

To put it simply, the Pre is a great phone, and we don’t feel any hesitation saying that. Is it a perfect phone? Hell no. Does its OS need work? Definitely. But are any of the detracting factors here big enough to not recommend it? Absolutely not. There’s no doubt that there’s room for improvement in webOS and its devices, but there’s also an astounding amount of things that Palm nails out of the gate.

Jason Chen, at Gizmodo:

The software is agile, smart and capable. The hardware, on the other hand, is a liability. If Palm can get someone else to design and build their hardware–someone who has hands and can feel what a phone is like when physically used, that phone might just be one of the best phones on the market.

Mark Spoonauer, at Laptop Mag:

We’ve seen many smart phones come and go since the original iPhone, and the $199 Palm Pre is the first device we’ve tested whose user interface not only matches up well to Apple’s offering, but also beats it in some areas. … Palm and Sprint have a hit on their hands with the Pre, and the webOS is a smart phone platform to be reckoned with.

Boy Genius Report:

The OS is great. There’s no ifs ands or buts; it’s really refreshing to see something that’s brand new with a UI unlike anything else out there. The only problem with this is, Palm’s never been a hardware company that anyone’s really cared about. … Couple that with the nation’s underdog carrier at a $299 price-point (before rebate), and we’re not sure how many people are going to be lined up overnight, yet we’re pretty confident once people are able to play a real unit themselves, there will be more than a lot of happy Palm Pre customers.

Bonnie Cha, at CNET:

Despite some missing features and performance issues that make it less than ideal for on-the-go professionals, the Palm Pre offers gadget lovers and consumers well-integrated features and unparalled multitasking capabilities. The hardware could be better, but more importantly, Palm has developed a solid OS that not only rivals the competition but also sets a new standard in the way smartphones handle tasks and manage information.

Ginny Miles, at PC World:

The long-awaited Palm Pre lives up to the hype with a responsive touchscreen and an engaging interface, but a few hardware design flaws keep it from being the perfect smartphone.

Stephen Wildstrom, at at BusinessWeek:

If the Palm Pre had appeared a year ago, it might have turned the smartphone market upside down. It would have beaten out Apple’s iPhone 3G and the iTunes App Store, Google’s Android, the BlackBerry Bold and Storm as well as BlackBerry App World, and possibly taken the spoils. But the field has grown so crowded with clever entries in the past 12 months that the Pre, ingenious as it is, seems evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

Sinead Carew, at Reuters:

The long-awaited Pre has nice new touches, but Palm Inc has a lot of work to do if the device is to be a serious competitor to the iPhone.

Om Malik:

…it is a pretty good-looking device, but it feels a little plasticky and is lower in build quality than a BlackBerry. It is squat, has a nice screen, and is easy to grip. It is round in the right places. However, the slide-out keyboard seems flimsy and cluttered.

Peter Svensson, at the Associated Press:

Move over, iPhone. You’ve had two years on top of the smart phone world. Now there’s a touch-screen phone with better software: the Palm Pre. In a remarkable achievement, Palm Inc., a company that was something of a has-been, has come up with a phone operating system that is more powerful, elegant and user-friendly.

Ed Baig, at USA Today:

The first Palm Pre will certainly give the iPhone and other rivals a run for their money. To be sure, there are areas where it could improve: Bring on the apps. But Palm has delivered a device that will keep it in the game and give it a chance to star in it.

About Rob Beschizza

Rob Beschizza is the Managing Editor of Boing Boing. He's @beschizza on Twitter and can be found on Facebook too. Email is dead, but you can try your luck at besc...@gmail.com
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16 Responses to Palm Pre Review Roundup

  1. scaught says:

    I’m a little surprised that Apple has stampeded out some 3gen iphone news in retaliation of all this Pre stuff. I know it’s like a week away but still…

  2. Another James says:

    I don’t care how many apps you have iPhone, I need a mobile telephone that does not sound like I am calling from Mars. The horrible call quality, dead zones, and dropped calls are enough to make me switch back to Palm.

    It’s not cute anymore to tell clients, “sorry for the dropped calls, it’s an iPhone.”

    The PRE is enough for me to switch back to a mobile carrier that realized people want to hear what each other are saying. 99% of apps are time sinks, now get to work and build this economy and stop playing silly games.

  3. dculberson says:

    Yeah, thanks for the run-down, Rob! Nicely encapsulates a lot of opinions.

    Steve, it seems a bit premature to ding a phone for a light app store when the phone’s not even out yet. As Anon7 said, the iPhone didn’t have an app store when it launched. Give it a few months.

    Halloween Jack, the app store is, as far as I can tell, for WebOS native apps. The Pre can run at least some old Palm apps, so you can get them from elsewhere and put them on the Pre, you just can’t get them from the Palm app store.

  4. gwax says:

    I think that I’ll keep using my bluetooth tethered N810 until Nokia gets around to releasing the N900.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’ve read different stories saying that it’s going to be on Verizon by the end of this year or the early part of next year.

  6. joebrown says:

    The thousand quips I’ve heard against the development platform and all of the awkward hardware design decisions make me want to wait for Pre 2.0, but I’m afraid that if I don’t give poor Palm my money now, they won’t last that long.

  7. Steven Leckart says:

    I hear there are tumbleweeds in the Palm app store. I’m gonna pass. New iPhone, please.

  8. Anonymous says:

    For a 1st generation WebOS phone, the Pre is already a winner. There are few apps available right now on their app store, but remember that when iPhone first came out, there was no app store at all.

    There are a lot of innovative software features on this phone, that when we start using it, I think even the hardened critic may stand amazed.

  9. Halloween Jack says:

    There were some great Palm apps back in the day (well, great for their era). Wonder why there aren’t more apps in their store?

  10. technogeek says:

    I want the Pre to succeed enough that I’d consider going to a smartphone just for that purpose… if I could get an unlocked version (or one that ran on my carrier) at a reasonable price.

    I just don’t want to get into the “switch carriers because the hardware has marketing ties” game.

  11. AlexBB says:

    Pre is best possible phone Palm can make to challenge Apple given their budget. Though it can’t replace iPhone, it will be successful somehow!

  12. bkd says:

    The spousal unit and I are locked into Verizon, not for any technical reason, but simply due to the fact that they give coverage where we need it.

    My favorite form factor to date is LG’s Env2. The landscape format plus fliptop means that there’s room for a four line qwerty keyboard inside, the screen is spacious enough for web browsing to look relatively normal, the front panel has a tiny display plus hard number keys, so You Can Just Make A Phone Call, Dammit, micro B USB connector, MicroSDHC slot, and a pair of speakers flanking the internal screen. It’s also denser than average, which is a plus, because that means you keep a tighter grip on it than with a less dense phone. The camera is functional. I just wish it was maybe a qurter inch to a half inch longer for a bit more screen space, and a bit more room on the keyboard.

    Unfortunately, given the proliferation of portrait mode qwerty pads, touchscreen front panels, and slide tops with their three line keyboards, I don’t foresee a long future for that particular form factor.

    As for the BREW platform on there? That can also be described as functional. Given half a chance, I’d load up Android or OpenMoko on that thing, or even WebOS. Really, anything that would let me do my own development. Stock firmware is for suckers. Naturally, the browser dumps you into Verizon’s portal, but your favorites are only one button away, and from there, I use Google’s mobile options as my portal, namely Reader, Gmail, and iGoogle, as well as the mobile versions of some other sites, like Facebook. Not like True Web(tm), but good enough to get the job done.

    So, in short, Env2 phone + any other firmware. Please.

  13. BillyShears says:

    Apparently the dearth of apps available for Pre built for WebOS is partially because the App Catalog is still in beta and Palm doesn’t want to be overwhelmed. (At least, that’s what I’ve heard.)

    I did some digging on their SDK. It’s available, but to a super-limited amount of people at the moment. I’d really like to get my hands on it myself; as a front-end web developer I’d pretty much be able to jump right in.

  14. ian Garrett says:

    Sadly they missed the marketing lecture:

    Rule 1. It is better to be first than it is to be better.

  15. kosmonautbruce says:

    I’m still loving my Android G1, but just wanted to give a hat tip to Rob Beschizza, this post was a great way to quickly get the run down on critical reception! Very, very nice work and much appreciated.

  16. strider_mt2k says:

    Sorry Palm.

    In the time you took to get your stuff together I found some awesome alternatives.

    Good luck though.

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