We had our one-on-one time with the folks at Palm and the new Palm Pre today. In person, it looks lovely; like a polished river stone, with gentle curves on the front and back faces. Yes, the screen itself has a subtle convex curve. That display is capacitive like the iPhone and T-Mobile G1, and it?s made of plastic with a hardened layer on top to obviate scratching. The display is vivid, bright and stunning, and the UI speed is crazy fast. Palm said they hadn't gotten to the power management tweaking stages yet, so we?re not sure if screen brightness and CPU speeds will be throttled back in the interest of battery life.
What do we think so far? Absolutely fantastic! Perhaps even iPhone-level in terms of ease of use, attractiveness and utility. While the Pre focuses on the web, email, messaging and social networking, the iPhone focuses more on media consumption (iTunes content and other music and video sources), so they're different, devices in that respect.
More factoids garnered from today's interview and hands-on demo:
The OS is Linux-based and both Palm webOS and the the Palm Pre were developed completely in-house.
The phone will support, Exchange, gmail and multiple email accounts. It can sync with several PIM sources simultaneously, including Google?s contacts and calendar applications, Facebook and deskop (i.e.: Outlook).
Like the G1, the Pre has an Amazon MP3 store application and you can buy tunes over the air (and listen to a 30 second clip). There is no DRM or MTP mode on the Pre, so it handles only non-DRM content.
Third party developers will handle an MS Office compatible suite.
The IM on the Palm Pre will support AIM and Google Talk.
We asked a slew of questions, many of which were met with ?we can?t talk about that yet?. These include:
There will be Sprint applications - we asked about Sprint TV and Navigation and were told that they can?t talk about that but there will be stuff and TeleNav who powers Sprint Navigation, is a partner. Hello turn-by-turn directions!
Here are some live photos we took at the hands-on session:
The web browser is Webkit-based, as is the iPhone's, Android's and Nokia S60. It's an excellent browser that from what we've seen today in person, certainly compares well to the iPhone's Safari browser.
Yes, the name "Pre" is pretty weird. So far it's the only thing I don't like about the device .
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview