December 21, 2009
Diana McDonough was once a staunch Palm user, but has started flirting with many other hand-held operating systems and devices. Read what she has to say!
Well, I’ve had my Palm Pre for five months now. After that amount of time, here’s how I feel about the device.
All in all, I LOVE WebOS. It’s simplicity and native integration with Facebook and Google are not to be beat. The OS is exceptionally stable. In the time I’ve had it, it has only spontaneously rebooted twice. The text messaging app integrates with GoogleTalk and AIM all in one. Hooking the device up to a USB cord on the PC turns it instantly into a USB drive; no additional software needed. I love the fact that it has a separate 3.5mm headphone jack (no more sharing headphone jack with charger jack like on the Treo 800 and the HTC Touch Pro). The device is pretty zippy, and it is easy to run multiple applications at once and switch back and forth between them with a simple finger swipe. The camera is decent, and has a built in flash, however, it still does not do video (dispite being oft-promised in a ‘soon to be released update’). The web browser on the Pre is pretty nice. The multi-touch screen makes it nice to zoom in and out. The email application has by far the easiest configuration steps of any device I’ve ever had.
Now for the down side(s)
Classic works well enough, but it is a little laggy. If the Palm application you are running requires really accurate control, it won’t work well. Capacitive screens are more sensitive than resistive screens, but less accurate. Agendus and Butler don’t play well coming “through” to the base OS. If you have to restore your device, you will have to re-install all the apps you had in Classic. If you change the settings in Classic, it is prone to crashing.
You cannot tether a Pre out of the box. You have to hack it, which is something I haven’t tried to do.
Copy and Paste is…well, it almost isn’t. The latest update will allow you to copy and forward SMS messages, but otherwise, you can only copy and paste text in active, editable fields.
DocsToGo is not yet available for WebOS. The built in document application is unreliable. Sometimes it will open a document, other times it won’t.
Applications have been far too slow in coming. There are only about 500 apps available in the app store. While there are many more available through PreCentral and other sites like it, many of them require “rooting” your Pre (the afformentioned ‘hack’). If you restore your Pre, you might not get all your apps back. On a similar note, although the device is automagically backed up every night (unless you change the backup settings) it does not restore wall paper or application icon arrangement on the Launcher screens.
As with the Treo 680 and on, battery life is a problem. I cannot go a full day on moderate usage without charging.
Ringtone management could be way better. While it is fairly easy to set an MP3 as a ringtone, if you do, the device makes a complete copy of the file in your ringtone folder…big waste of space on a device that does not have external storage capability. You also can’t customize some sounds without hacking the device (SMS notification sound, for example, which is the same sound for when you place the device on the charger).
All that said, while the Pre is a fun device, long term, it is not a keeper for a high-end geek like myself.
So, now for my new love affair:
I have recently added a second line to my account. The phone I got is the HTC Hero, which runs Android (Google) OS. Android OS came out just shortly before WebOS. Whereas the App Catalog for the Pre has only around 500 applications, the Android Market has almost 10,000. Most are free (but ad supported). The rest are pretty cheap, $.99 – $4.99 for the most part.
The Hero supports up to a 32GB microSD card…which I don’t even think are out yet.
The ability to customize the display on Android is waaaaay cool. It does what I wish Windows Mobile did, but better. Basically, you have 7 rotating screens on which you can place various widgets and application short-cuts to your heart’s content. Each configuration can be saved as a “theme”. There are several built in themes as well.
It has a 5.0 megapixel camera, which takes GREAT pictures and video, but it has no built in flash.
It has a lanyard hook (YAY!)
It uses Mini-USB, the same as many BT headsets.
The device has a little track ball, which is fun and convenient, but it takes a little getting used to. You can use it or finger-swipes to switch between screens on your “theme”. The finger-swipe gesture to unlock the device is easier than either the iPhone or the Pre. Alarms can be snoozed without unlocking the device, which you couldn’t do on the Pre.
The built-in IM application does Yahoo!, MSN Messenger and AIM.
The negatives I’ve seen so far (I’ve had the device almost a week, so the honeymoon is still going strong, but…):
The battery life isn’t great. No big surprise there…nobody has been able to match Blackberry for power management.
The virtual keyboard takes some getting used to. The spelling correction is overly zealous. I typed “lmao!!!” to a friend, and the spelling correction turned it into “knapsack!!!”. Needless to say, my friend was confused.
When you sign into the device, you are prompted for an email address as your primary email. I used my GMail address. I’ve also set up other email accounts, but they are in a separate application from the primary GMail account.
As with Windows Mobile, most apps don’t “close” when you leave them. However, unlike WM, it is not easy to switch back to a running application.
Some applications load kind of slowly.
I haven’t found copy and paste on the device.
Google Maps doesn’t have an option to show traffic (GRRRR!!!). (It does do Latitude, though, which the Pre did not.)
I miss the sound toggle-switch from the top of the Palm devices, but at least there is a (free) widget that I put on my home screen to switch between sound, silent, and vibrate.
While it logs into my facebook automatically, it doesn’t download my facebook contacts like the Pre did. It does do GooSync natively.
It does not support BT voice dialing, and word is that the available voice dialing (apparently only on the US Hero) is gimpy. Not a big issue for me, because my car has BT and it does voice dialing, even though the phone doesn’t…weird, but nice. Holding the green phone button brings up a voice activation option, but I haven’t played with it.
Out of the box, the device does GPS based time and weather. Unfortunately, it has a strange habit of showing my current location as something vastly different than where I am. Right now, as I sit in downtown Cincinnati, my weather and time say “Dayton”. Whether that is Dayton, Ohio or Dayton, Kentucky, I’m not sure, but either way it is off by a minimum of 10 miles. Refreshing the weather does bring it back to my correct location.
For at least the next few months, I have found my “forever phone”. The Android OS has great potential; only time will tell if it continues to mature and develop as promised. Such is the price for staying on the bleeding edge of technology!