updated 09:15 am EDT, Thu June 4, 2009
Palm Pre Review Roundup
Reviews have surfaced today for the Palm Pre that suggest the device is the closest rival to the iPhone but has drawbacks that may limit its scope. The New York Times' David Pogue describes it as the "iPhone remixed" and an "elegant, joyous" device. He praises webOS as very smooth and particularly highlights app multitasking, which isn't possible with iPhones. He also singles out Synergy, which merges offline and online contacts, as well as the native iTunes sync, as strong points.
However, Pogue has significant concerns about the hardware itself. While the Pre is comfortable to hold, the writer notes that the keyboard is "tiny," if still easier to type on than an iPhone's glass touchscreen. He also compliments the ability to swap the battery but says it's virtually necessary for the phone, which can run out of energy as early as mid-afternoon. Palm responds to this by claiming that his phone was unusual, a claim which has been supported by some reviews.
Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal echoes some of the statements and says the Pre is "potentially the strongest rival" to the iPhone and believes the interface "matches or exceeds" the iPhone's, while its design is "beautiful." He nonetheless warns that the Palm App Catalog is a weak point and not only has roughly a dozen apps on launch but is in a beta state that, at one time, wiped out the Pre's stored data; one of Palm's advantages, Internet-based backups, was necessary to restore the phone.
He adds that a new iPhone next week is likely to erode some of Palm's current advantages, including software features like MMS and copy-paste text but also the 8GB of built-in storage.
Ed Baig of USA Today takes a similar approach and says the Pre "stacks up well" against the iPhone, in some cases offering better features and a very ergonomic design. Sprint's smartphone plans are also less expensive in practice than AT&T's iPhone plans, he adds. For him, though, webOS was at times buggy or slow to respond. The App Catalog's small size was again an issue as well.
These and other reviews paint a cautiously optimistic picture for Palm, which is poised to depend almost exclusively on the Pre and future webOS phones for the future of its company. Both Palm and Sprint are struggling financially and are looking for a "halo" device to return attention to brands that have fared poorly with predominantly PalmOS and Windows Mobile devices at the high end. The Pre goes on sale June 6th for $199, either after a rebate at Sprint or with an immediate discount at Best Buy and Radio Shack stores.