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  1.    #1  
    So there are a million threads that I could add my personal opinions to, but I figure, hey, I'm an old-timer here so I'll pretend I'm extra-special important and start up a new thread. I've been a long-time defender of the Palm OS and I still think that the version of Palm OS in the "classic" Treo's is a highly efficient and usability OS that still ranks right up there with the current crop of devices. It's quite long in the tooth these days, and looks and feels antiquated, but it works well from an efficiency/usability perspective, has a ton of 3rd party apps, and the combination of the Palm OS, always-available thumbboard, D-Pad, and touchscreen is a special combination that no one else offers.

    Sadly, Palm didn't quite appreciate how those features, when combined, made for such a special combination, and decided to start from scratch with the pre. With the pre, I think they've spent a lot of effort trying to one-up Apple, but have fallen short. Today, I finally had some time to run out to my local Sprint store and play with a pre. Here are my observations about today's experiences, along with my thoughts about how the device stacks up against some of the competition...

    So first the hardware itself. The plastic had a cheap feel to it compared to my old (or just about any?) Treo, specifically in terms of the buttons along the outer rim. The power button was hard to spot and press, I didn't even spot the mute switch, and of course there's no SD slot, which sucks IMO. The device was tied to a security cord, so I couldn't get the optimal feel for it, but I pulled and held some extra slack on the security cord with one hand while holding the pre with the other, so I could at least get a decent feel for the weight of it. I slid down the keyboard early on, because I knew I'd want to be using that. The lack of an always-available keyboard is a major downer for me. Contrary to other reports, when actually using the device, I didn't detect any issues with the sharpness of the plastic edges. Because I read the Gizmodo review, I later made a conscious effort to feel the edges and they were, indeed, very sharp, but when holding the pre normally, the edges never pressed against my skin, so it was a non-issue for me.

    I've always complained about the Treo keyboards. I owned a Treo 300 (still have a brand new one in a box, as a matter of fact, which I was going to eBay long ago and never got around to it - wonder what that's worth on eBay now), and I complained about that keyboard, but the original Treo's keyboard was *HUGE* compared to every Treo since which seems to have gotten progressively worse. I use a Treo 700p as my daily-driver these days (for the past couple of years now, really) and because the keyboard is so small, I often find myself using my fingernails on it, but the hard keys make this uncomfortable and I end up sometimes "slipping" off the keys. Using my thumbs is frustrating in a different way because the hard keys are more suited for that, but they're too small and close together, so using the pad of my finger results in accidentally hitting nearby keys. So if you figure that the keys are going to be super tiny, then for optimal accuracy, you probably want to use fingernails. That's where the pre takes a bad situation and makes hte most of it. The gummy flat keys are ideally suited for fingernail pressing. I found it to be quite comfortable and accurate for that, so I think that they made the right choice here. Now, if they had made the device larger (or had a landscape-mode hard keyboard) non-gummy keys might have been the wrong choice.

    I was also pleasantly surprised that the device seemed like it would feel pretty comfortable to type one-handedly. It seemed light enough and balanced right for that but, again, it was tethered to the Sprint counter, so I'm not 100% sure about how it would really balance in my hand normally.

    As for the UI, I was a bit confused on occasion. I thought that pushing the silver button would always bring up the app launcher screen, but instead it seemed to bring up a cards view. So sliding up my thumb and bringing up something with that arrow icon (for home launcher - that doesn't seem intuitive) seemed like my only approach for getting back to the app launcher. The app launcher seemed busy. I don't know about the rest of you who have come from Treo's, but I never use the big-icon view on my Treo. Now, I am a purist with simple needs, so I don't really use a 3rd party launcher either. The Treo's list view, combined with tapping a single letter on the Treo's keyboard to jump down to an app that begins with a certain letter, has worked well for me. With the pre, though, I'm stuck with the big-icon view, and I just have to shake my head. Here's a great example where they learned nothing from past experience. This smacks of copying Apple (where Apple seemed to be copying the Treo and copying it in a short-sighted way). A big-icon view works well if you've only got a few apps, but once there are a lot available, that view won't cut it. Swiping left or right to other pages of big-icons is really lame, too. It's lame on the iPhone, and it's even lamer here, since Palm should know better. The categories concept worked well in a free out-of-the-box app launcher, yet it's like the new owners never even bothered to use/learn/appreciate the old Treo and, instead, they copied the iPhone's sucky multi-page big-icon app launcher. Absolutely pathetic.

    I tried out the web browser (after spending too much time trying to find it...on the iPhone I think it's by default on the quick-launch bar of the home page/launcher, but on the pre it's mixed among all of the other apps). It was fast, so that's great. But it immediately brought to the forefront a disadvantage that the pre has against the iPhone: the screen is too small. A desktop-optimized web page looks pretty and loads fast, but good luck reading anything on it without having to stretch it with your fingers. Stretching and re-positioning web pages gets tiresome when you have to do it with just about every web page you load. Here's another couple of advantages that the iPhone has: 1) If you load a desktop-optimized page, the larger iPhone screen gives you somewhat of a chance of reading things without having to zoom in, and 2) Because the iPhone has established itself we now have lots of web sites that recognize that you're viewing it on an iPhone and load an iPhone-optimized view.

    I've rambled on enough for now, and will continue to share my thoughts here later. But I'll leave you for now with the other big concern I have with the pre, as compared to the iPhone: apps. In some respects, I wonder if Palm might not have been better off releasing a new Treo with super-advanced CPU and storage capabilities, a super-fast web browser, and a Garnet-compatible OS, even if it meant that the OS maybe couldn't multitask and wasn't quite as slick as web OS. Here we're starting from square one, but Palm hasn't given all developers access to "the good stuff." Regulard developers will have to developer apps with HTML, JavaScript, and whatever API functions that Palm chooses to make available. Special big-name developers (e.g., Adobe, Pandora, etc.) will get access to the really good stuff, but regular developers will be limited. Don't expect a virtual keyboard app, home screen replacements, etc. And today we've got a tiny number of 3rd party apps available, compared to a *HUGE* number of iPhone apps. Honestly, I think this is the big deal-breaker for me. If Palm had released a full-access SDK for any and all developers, I could probably get behind the platform. But I'm skeptical that we'll see a large number of truly impressive apps on the pre if Palm continues to offer only this limited SDK to regulard developers.

    Anyways, those are my thoughts. I will most likely be dropping my SERO plan and two Treos (one for the wife) and getting a couple of iPhone 3G[S]'s soon. I'm not happy about the big monthly plan increase I'll be dealing with, but getting a pre would mean practically doubling my monthly costs anyway, so I may as well go with the device that I think will make me happier. I do hope that Palm rebounds and offers some great competition for the iPhone, just as I also hope that Android matures (which I may write about more later, as I see Android as being more like a modern-day Palm OS than I think web OS is, thanks to its D-Pad support), and even hope that Microsoft finally delivers on a decent mobile OS/GUI.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  2. #2  
    Now that is a well thought out comparison. Glad you still will end up with something you like. I never found the plastic cheap feeling but I will honestly say that it isn't as slick feeling as iPhone hardware.

    Still, for me, the little bit of extra polish on iPhone isn't enough to make up for the lack of keyboard and the price increase. With my credit union discount I am getting lots of minutes and unlimited data/text/nav for very cheap. ATT would cost me a good deal more--like at least $50+ more a month. My personal budget and preference for hard keyboard don't leave that as an option.

    Still, it's nice that you have so many great devices to choose from these days. Hope things work out for you.
  3. #3  
    So you are basing your thoughts on a 5 minute review at a sprint store with a Pre tied by a security lock. You had no time to read the manual, see the getting started page showing you finger swipes, etc. And from the description you only really tried the launcher and web browser.

    For such a Treonaut, you really have to give a brand new style of device a little more time to adjust. Its a completely new way of thinking. As for the SDK issue, since you are an old timer I would assume you have a ton of Palm apps that you can use with Classic mode on the Pre. Also I am not sure what you were expecting regarding apps for the Pre, its a new phone, they have 28 new apps out for it and more coming and specific developers have gotten the SDK and the new SDK is coming out.
  4. #4  
    Thanks for the great review. I feel the same way.

    WebOS shows a lot of promise, looking forward to some non Pre hardware that uses it. In 1-2 yrs the refinement bug fixes should be done and if Palm is still in business, WebOs should be great contender in the marketplace.
  5. #5  
    I can't seem to pull the trigger on buying the Pre, although I THOUGHT I had decided months ago that I would be getting one, and today I'd been thinking maybe I'll just go ahead and bite the bullet and get one, but then I read posts like this and my doubts creep back up.

    I do have to admit, though, that as a virgin smart-phone owner I'm a little tired of all the comparisons to the previous Palm products and the "Pre should do what this Palm or that Palm device did." As that old car commercial used to say, this is not your father's Palm, meaning the Pre and the company as a whole. I think the Pre may actually be more suited to non Palm owners because they're not making the comparisons and having the expectations of the previous Palm products.

    The bigger concern that you mentioned in your post is the screen size. I've heard a few others mention that, as well. I already had my doubts because of the limited texting features, to go along with a lot of the bugs, so hearing about another major drawback just fuels my doubt. I'm an old fart (44), but my eye sight is just as good as anyone else's. I don't think it's so much of an eye sight issue. A small screen and small fonts are just that, small, regardless of one's eyesight.

    There are no other phones out now, though, that grab my attention enough. The iphone just doesn't turn me on. It's a very plain looking phone and doesn't seem like it would be very comfortable to tote it around. I'm trying to hold out and see what happens with the Android phones. The samsung one I don't like the looks, the magic looks sweet but we don't know what the american version will be like in terms of looks and features.
  6. #6  
    Quote Originally Posted by sleemie View Post
    I can't seem to pull the trigger on buying the Pre, although I THOUGHT I had decided months ago that I would be getting one, and today I'd been thinking maybe I'll just go ahead and bite the bullet and get one, but then I read posts like this and my doubts creep back up.

    I do have to admit, though, that as a virgin smart-phone owner I'm a little tired of all the comparisons to the previous Palm products and the "Pre should do what this Palm or that Palm device did." As that old car commercial used to say, this is not your father's Palm, meaning the Pre and the company as a whole. I think the Pre may actually be more suited to non Palm owners because they're not making the comparisons and having the expectations of the previous Palm products.

    The bigger concern that you mentioned in your post is the screen size. I've heard a few others mention that, as well. I already had my doubts because of the limited texting features, to go along with a lot of the bugs, so hearing about another major drawback just fuels my doubt. I'm an old fart (44), but my eye sight is just as good as anyone else's. I don't think it's so much of an eye sight issue. A small screen and small fonts are just that, small, regardless of one's eyesight.

    There are no other phones out now, though, that grab my attention enough. The iphone just doesn't turn me on. It's a very plain looking phone and doesn't seem like it would be very comfortable to tote it around. I'm trying to hold out and see what happens with the Android phones. The samsung one I don't like the looks, the magic looks sweet but we don't know what the american version will be like in terms of looks and features.
    The hardware on the iphone is not the reason you get an iphone. Agreed it's not very exciting as a design, though not sure what you can really do for a touch screen device as they are all basically a rectangle with touch glass. For the iphone, and all these smartphones, it's the software and OS...that's why you get it.
  7. #7  


    A review and comparison of something you used for a few minutes at a store? You don't own a Pre? You haven't spent a few days with a Pre learning how it works, discovering the little details that you didn't know about the day before?

    If you had, you wouldn't have written a lot of what you did. For example, "it was hard to find the web browser" and "web browser wasn't on the launch bar". Well, you can add it to the bar in about 2 seconds. Secondly, you didn't even need to find and open the browser in order to open a web page - universal search will do it for you - just start typing. I could go on, but it doesn't really matter.
  8. shadrap's Avatar
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    #8  
    There goes another sucker paying an extra $50 a month for less 3G coverage and dropped calls. That apple Kool aid must be some powerful stuff. So, over the life of a 2 year contract you are willing to pay an extra $1,200 for inferior phone coverage? No wonder Sprint is loosing customers they market to people with good common sense. I guess there aren't many of those left.
  9. #9  
    A little off topic but the OP is the perfect example of why SERO was a big mistake for Sprint. Any slight hint of having to pay more for any reason would result in "it's my ball and I'm going home." In this case being why should the OP stay with Sprint since he will have to pay more anyway.
    Phone history with Sprint since April 2001: Kyocera QCP-2035, LG Touchpoint 1100, Samsung i500, Treo 650, Treo 700p, Treo 755p, HTC Mogul, Blackberry 8830, Samsung A900M, Motorola ic902, Blackberry Curve 8330, Samsung Instinct, HTC Touch, Treo 800w, Touch Diamond, Touch Pro, Motorola i9, Treo Pro (personal)/Iphone 3G 16GB (gone to make room for Pre), Palm Pre, blackberry tour, iPhone 3GS 32GB
  10. #10  
    nice review. but unless you use the Pre as your daily driver and put it through a day or two of real world activities, you have no idea just how awful this phone is. you didn't even scratch the surface of usage. the longer you use it, the more painful it becomes.
  11. #11  
    I don't get the point of this thread at all. Scott R. says that he misses the great hardware and software features of Treos, likes being able to type one-handed, and doesn't like the iPhone method of swiping through pages and pages of apps to do what you want....

    ....

    ...


    ....

    wait for it....

    ...

    ...

    ...So he's buying two new iPhone 3GSs?!?!?

    Does not compute, buddy.
  12. #12  
    Yep, sounds like an old timer...the Pre is an excellent phone with an amazing operating system. Having used about every other OS out there, it easily blows everyone out of the water.. The gestures are intuitive, the screen is beautiful. And I can cleary read everything on the screen while on the browser.... But I can also multi-task?? That's where the Pre shines..
    Last edited by LACienega; 06/12/2009 at 01:16 AM.
  13. King Mob's Avatar
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    #13  
    At least he went to the store and tried it out. There are a lot of people who are basing whether they like keyboard size or not solely on photographs and heresay. Go try one for yourself people.

    Steve, if you'd had a little time to familiarize yourself with the Pre, some of of your problems would have been ameliorated, I think. For example, you don't have to pull-pinch everything to navigate webpages, double tapping on a spot makes the Pre zoom and resize it to fit the screen. Not flawlessly, but very well.

    Jury's still out on the App situation for the Pre. They really need to get the SDK out to anyone who wants it as soon as possible.
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    #14  
    Quote Originally Posted by Gekko View Post
    nice review. but unless you use the Pre as your daily driver and put it through a day or two of real world activities, you have no idea just how awful this phone is. you didn't even scratch the surface of usage. the longer you use it, the more painful it becomes.
    Don't pay much attention to Gekko's test drive he only had the Pre for two days. Some people just cant do change and he is a 10 plus year Palm user. The only bad thing about that is eventually you change or get left behind.
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    #15  
    By the way, go back and read Scott R's prior post. He has been a closet iphone fan this whole time.
  16. #16  
    Quote Originally Posted by shadrap View Post
    There goes another sucker paying an extra $50 a month for less 3G coverage and dropped calls. That apple Kool aid must be some powerful stuff. So, over the life of a 2 year contract you are willing to pay an extra $1,200 for inferior phone coverage? No wonder Sprint is loosing customers they market to people with good common sense. I guess there aren't many of those left.
    My fathers corvette costs more than my honda.
  17.    #17  
    I've been watching the replies so far and haven't been too surprised to see a lot of pre-fans get very defensive about my criticisms. I agree that playing with it for 5 minutes isn't normally enough time to form much of an opinion, so let me address that criticism first. I'm a long-time Palm OS user, long-time treocentral.com member, a "webmaster"/editor/writer of Palm OS-device-focused websites, and a usability-focused snob. You better believe that I've been keeping abreast of all of the pre developments/news for some time now, so when I went to the store today, I pretty much already knew how it was all going to work...I just didn't know for certain how it was all going to "feel."

    Yes, I know that if I owned this device, I could move the web browser to the quick-launch panel. My point was that this should come this way out-of-the-box, as browsing websites is what the pre is especially good at, and with an OS named webOS, you should think they would focus on that, too, no? That critique was not one where I was thinking, "this is a major problem," but rather, "this is rather stupid of them to make me have to go through extra steps/searching to launch the web browser."

    Mikah, I certainly appreciate your critique, as I can see how you might scratch your head wondering that. So, let me clarify...Yes, I'm a long-time Palm OS user, Treo fan, etc. I think the always-available keyboard, D-Pad, and Palm OS usability has been a winning combination. The pre has the keyboard, but I have to slide it down to get to it. There's no D-Pad, which sucks big time, IMO. Usability is on-par between the pre and the iPhone, IMO. So, really, the pre has a slight advantage over the iPhone thanks to the keyboard, but that's it. So that leaves apps. The iPhone has *TONS* of them, the Treo has a ton, too, but being an old device/OS, the iPhone apps developers can do some really impressive things easily. The pre? Apps are rare, and will continue to remain that way for some time (and Palm is lagging here in terms of the SDK/programming options available for regular developers).

    So, mikah, I've got a couple of options. I can stick with an old Treo which has the usability/efficiency/app numbers/choice that I appreciate, but I'm a geek, too, and I've been stuck with my 700p for far too long. I want something new and shiny and I'm willing to give up some of the advantages of my old Treo if there are some new fancy things that make life exciting. From my perspective, my top choices are the pre, an Android phone, or an iPhone. They all have pros/cons. Android still feels like a beta, the 3rd party apps are lacking, and it's a T-Mobile device at this point (which is probably the worst network around me). The pre has a lot of great things about it, but it has a smallish screen and no apps, the latter of which is a huge negative for me.

    The iPhone has its own set of problems, but it's got some nice hardward features (large, high-res screen), and tons and tons of apps. Lots of crap, but numerous good ones, and most of which are low-cost ($5 or less). I love to support the underdog, but I buy Windows PC's because they're the de-facto standard and that's where the 3rd party apps are. Sad to say, but that's where the iPhone is right now. There are *tons* of apps available for it, and the number is going to continue to grow. I sure hope that the pre does well and a year from now I see a lot of apps available for it. Maybe then I will cut short my AT&T contract and get the latest and greatest webOS phone, but right now, I think I want the device that has the best combination of good UI and large app library.
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  18. shadrap's Avatar
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    #18  
    Quote Originally Posted by mobileman View Post
    My fathers corvette costs more than my honda.
    We already know you are an iphone fan. I don't have to read your prior post to see that. By the way GM ain't worth a hill of beans anymore and if At&t ever loses the iphone, neither will they.
  19. #19  
    Quote Originally Posted by Gekko View Post
    nice review. but unless you use the Pre as your daily driver and put it through a day or two of real world activities, you have no idea just how awful this phone is. you didn't even scratch the surface of usage. the longer you use it, the more painful it becomes.
    I've been using it heavily and found it to be pretty decent. There are some things I would like to see improved but I have yet to own a phone where I didn't think that. It's been far from painful for me. More like a 7 out of 10 or so. I think with updates I can consider it more like an 8 or 9. More than adequate for what I pay.
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    #20  
    Scott R, one thing to think about is this. It takes 2 months from start to finish to write an app for the iphone. It only takes 5 days to write the same app for the Pre. So, will the Pre play catch up? You bet. Will it take as long as people think? No. As long as the Pre continues to sale and it is mentioned in the same breath as the iphone, developers will develop. The Pre like it or not is the closest competitor to the iphone. People that want a real keyboard or that don't like At&t will buy it.
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