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  1. mxu030's Avatar
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       #1  
    Let me begin by saying that I have owned a Palm Pre for 3 months and now an HTC Hero, which I've had for almost a month. That being said, this post is just my opinion on the matter and I hope it will be helpful for those who are trying to decide on either phone. I myself have not decided which one to keep, and maybe comments from you guys can help me out.

    I will not go into Android OS vs. webOS though since there are too many things to talk about. In a nutshell, the Hero is more customizable, while the Pre is more user-friendly, simpler (albeit elegant), and more aesthetically polished.

    Design:
    Ergonomically speaking, I found the Pre to be very well designed. The shape as well as the size makes it very easy to hold in one hand. Also, the placement of the power and lock buttons, as well as the volume rocker, was very easy to find and control with one hand. On the other hand, I found the Hero a bit awkward to hold in one hand, though the rubberized back and chin gives it more grip. I also found the buttons on the chin, which includes the lock and power button, very small and awkward to press (since they are almost flush with the surface). I didn't think I would be bothered by this at first, but it has become very annoying considering how much those buttons are used. Another complaint is the volume rocker, which is not only flush with the side, but is angled towards the back of the phone. I don't mind that the Pre is a slider (trade-off to have both a big screen and keyboard), but the Hero is just much more solidly built.

    Personal preference: Pre

    Build quality:
    The HTC Hero has excellent build quality, and I really couldn't find any complaints here. The materials used seem top notch and I especially like the glass screen and the rubberized back cover and chin. The Pre on the other hand is pretty bad, but it is a slider afterall. Personally, my Pre has held up very well after 3 months, and it is the only Pre that I've had. The only thing I noticed is a slight oreo effect of maybe less than 1 mm. Perhaps Palm is quietly improving the build quality and the Pres shipped now are even better?

    Personal preference: Hero

    Battery life:
    Ok. This is the one thing that I hated most about my Pre. Without even exaggerating, I can easily get 2x the battery life out of the Hero compared to the Pre. This is a major point of consideration for me and probably for many others.

    Personal preference: Hero

    Keyboard:
    While some may prefer a software keyboard (the Hero has a very good one), I prefer the hardware keyboard simply because I am more accurate at typing than relying on autocorrect. I timed myself very briefly typing the same sentence on each keyboard, and I found that generally I type at around the same speed. However, with the virtual keyboard, I make lots of mistakes and have to rely on autocorrect (which works quite well), but on the Pre, every key stroke is accurate and counts. One thing about the software keyboard is that it is hard to use when you're moving (walking, on a bus, etc.), since each time your finger touches the screen it registers input. With a hardware keyboard this is easier since you can first rest the finger on a key, make sure it's the right one, and then click down. In a nutshell, typing is about the same speed, except you're relying on autocorrect a lot on the Hero and less so on the Pre. As a result of autocorrection, it can be a pain on the Hero when you're typing things that otherwise is not in the autocorrect vocabulary.

    Personal preference: Pre

    Apps:
    Hero wins, and there are actually many useful apps

    Personal preference: Hero

    Calender:
    I much prefer the Pre's calender since I found it more informative in terms of information as well as better at navigation. With the Hero, if you want to switch between days, you have to first back out of the day you're looking by pressing the back button, and then clicking on a new day. On the Palm, you can simply swipe left or right to get to a next/previous day. One big drawback for me on the Hero is that there is no week view, but it does have agenda view, which Palm does not have. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Hero does not graphically display your events on a calender page (the Pre does it in bubbles). Instead, it lists items in text. Palm has the advantage here because it is easier to gauge the relative length of events, where they fit in the day, and easier to distinguish side-by-side events that occur during the same time. In addition, if you're inputting new events, you can put end dates in the Palm but not on the Hero. Some would say that the calender on Pre opens slower compared to the Hero, but it depends on how you open it. if you close the application on the Pre and relaunch it, the Hero is on average 2 seconds faster. If you leave it as a background card, the Pre is faster by 1 second.

    Personal preference: Pre

    General speed:
    The latest patch fixed the Hero lag. Mine rarely lags if at all, and transition between applications is very smooth. My Pre can get a little jerky, especially when you're trying to do things with the music running in the background. However, with the Pre, you can just leave the cards open in the background which will make it faster than the Hero at opening applications (such as calender, messenger, etc.), but this would likely make the battery life even worse than it already is.

    Personal preference: Hero

    OS Navigation and multitasking:
    I found it easier to navigate on the Pre simply because you can pretty much accomplish everything using swipes. On the Hero it is a bit more complicated... there are more menus, and you need to make use of the somewhat awkward hardware buttons. The Pre is excellent and very efficient at multitasking and the card system is intuitive and easy to use. While the Hero does multitask, it does it like a Blackberry (if you know what I'm talking about) and is kind of a pain.

    Personal preference: Pre

    Camera:
    HTC Hero has autofocus, which was really great to have. Pre on the other hand has flash. I have posted two pictures, each with the picture taken by using the other device. You can see at close distance the HTC was able to focus but the Pre cannot. The HTC also has more megapixels, and this is only important if you do a lot of crop editing or want to print pictures. Personally, I prefer having a flash.

    Update -- more about the camera:
    I found that pictures are a just a tad darker, but overall image quality isn't bad, on the Hero. There is, however, a slight lag time between pressing the shutter and the camera actually taking the picture, and if you shake during this period the picture will likely be blurry. I tend to use the camera a lot in poorly lit setting like a restaurant and flash is required. To me the Hero isn't useable in such settings since the sensor takes in too little light and pictures are blurry due to the slightest shake. In any case I prefer to have a camera which I can always use, as opposed to one that perhaps can take better pictures but need optimal lighting.

    Personal preference: Pre

    Web Browser:
    The Pre loads pages faster and the scrolling and multitouch features are faster and smoother to use. However, the HTC has a function where it automatically condenses text to fit the screen (like the Blackberry column view).

    Personal preference: Pre

    Youtube:
    They both play at decent quality (after you enable high quality play on the HTC), though it looks slightly better on the Pre. Videos are both smooth and load at about the same speed... however for some reason on the Hero sound seems to lag a tiny bit behind picture (not much but definitely noticeable).

    Personal preference: Pre

    Notifications:
    Hero notifications are more customizable and the hardware has both a scrollball light (the Pre has a gesture area ball which lights up as well, though this isn't addressed in an official patch yet) as well as LED. Software wise, I prefer Pre's notification system since I found it easier to use.

    Personal preference: hardware wise, the Hero; software wise, the Pre


    A few words:
    One other thing I like about Palm is that it's more centralized. Like what Apple and RIM are doing, webOS will be exclusively Palm. The benefit of this is that Palm has total, quality control over their phone. In addition, the community will be more closely knit, since the majority will be using the same phone.

    Android, on the other hand, is being adopted by many hardware companies down the road and we will be seeing a surge of Android phones from many different manufacturers. This of course has benefits (wider user base) but also disadvantages (not all Android phones will be good and support base will be scattered between many different hardware models).

    The caveat for Palm is that they have little room for mistake (since there are fewer hardware models), and when they do release a product, it better be good.

    Edited for typos.
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    Last edited by mxu030; 12/07/2009 at 02:46 PM.
  2. #2  
    nice writeup. thank you
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  3. #3  
    yeah that autofocus does make it look nice... but like u said i preffer the flash as well...
  4. #4  
    Very good review. Nicely done!
    Treo 600 > Treo 650 > HTC Mogul (*****!) > HTC Touch Pro (***** squared!) > PRE! > Epic
  5. #5  
    That's interesting, I heard some reports about the Hero being snappy but slowed as more apps were installed and as it was used, have you experienced any of this?
  6. #6  
    Ive been looking at the Hero for my wife, thanks for the review. One remark I would like to make is that it doesn't seem as "Customizable" as the Pre. Granted with the Pre you need patches, but I would call what the Patches do for the Pre more customization. Being able to change the entire theme of your phone from the homescreen to the buttons to just about everything, in my opinion, seems to give it more. True, what the Hero possesses in having the scenes is definetely nice. However, I have a female friend that changes her theme for every holiday and every sporting season on her Pre. Its an eyesore at times, but it shows who and how she is. I would give that a plus. Thats my two cents.

    One question...with the exception of the auto focus, how was the overall picture/video quality in your opinion of the Hero camera? I've read ALOT of complaints about the quality being poor eventho it has more pixels than the Pre. However, the screen shots Ive seen look decent and when I played with the Hero at Sprint store it looked ok. Whats your opinion?
  7. mxu030's Avatar
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       #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by alex.dobeck View Post
    That's interesting, I heard some reports about the Hero being snappy but slowed as more apps were installed and as it was used, have you experienced any of this?
    I don't think just installing applications would make it laggy (I installed about 20), but trying to run a few at once does increase the lag by a bit (this also occurs on the Pre though). That being said, there were a few occasions when I tried to run a few (2-3) apps at once and the OS crashed (crashed about 4 times in my one month of usage). Overall though I would say everything runs smoothly.
  8. mxu030's Avatar
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       #8  
    Quote Originally Posted by brian.johnson115 View Post
    Ive been looking at the Hero for my wife, thanks for the review. One remark I would like to make is that it doesn't seem as "Customizable" as the Pre. Granted with the Pre you need patches, but I would call what the Patches do for the Pre more customization. Being able to change the entire theme of your phone from the homescreen to the buttons to just about everything, in my opinion, seems to give it more. True, what the Hero possesses in having the scenes is definetely nice. However, I have a female friend that changes her theme for every holiday and every sporting season on her Pre. Its an eyesore at times, but it shows who and how she is. I would give that a plus. Thats my two cents.

    One question...with the exception of the auto focus, how was the overall picture/video quality in your opinion of the Hero camera? I've read ALOT of complaints about the quality being poor eventho it has more pixels than the Pre. However, the screen shots Ive seen look decent and when I played with the Hero at Sprint store it looked ok. Whats your opinion?
    It's true that the Pre can be customizable as well... however I don't think the average Pre user would deal with patches and homebrew apps.

    About the camera, I found that pictures are a just a tad darker, but overall image quality isn't bad. There is, however, a slight lag time between pressing the shutter and the camera actually taking the picture, and if you shake during this period the picture will likely be blurry. I tend to use the camera a lot in poorly lit setting like a restaurant and flash is required. To me the Hero isn't useable in such settings since the sensor takes in too little light and pictures are blurry due to the slightest shake. In any case I prefer to have a camera which I can always use, as opposed to one that perhaps can take better pictures but need optimal lighting.
  9. #9  
    I wonder if the lack of auto focus on the Pre couldn't couldn't be addressed with a software update? Thanks for the review.
  10. mxu030's Avatar
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       #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Tee View Post
    I wonder if the lack of auto focus on the Pre couldn't couldn't be addressed with a software update? Thanks for the review.
    I don't think that's possible. For it to have autofocus there would have to be moving components in the lens of the camera. On the Hero you can actually hear the lens mechanically focus when it goes to take a picture.
  11. youlege's Avatar
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    #11  
    Thanks for the write up.
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    #12  
    Excellent write-up and stayed focused on the tangible differences between the two devices rather than hyperbole and "truthiness". Great work.
  13. #13  
    I have the Hero as a work phone, and the only things I like better are the Apps and build quality. The keyboard is laggy, and the overall phone isn't good looking. That being said, I am hard pressed to say much else bad about the Hero. I have both, and use both.
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  14. spare's Avatar
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    #14  
    Quote Originally Posted by mxu030 View Post
    I don't think just installing applications would make it laggy (I installed about 20), but trying to run a few at once does increase the lag by a bit (this also occurs on the Pre though). That being said, there were a few occasions when I tried to run a few (2-3) apps at once and the OS crashed (crashed about 4 times in my one month of usage). Overall though I would say everything runs smoothly.
    How often did your pre crashed? Is the amount of crashes common for others as well?
  15. #15  
    I've heard that the Hero lacks a proximity sensor, so when you hold it up to your face the screen stays on. Have you had any instances where you were dialing or hanging up on people with your cheek?
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  16. #16  
    Quote Originally Posted by Jaggrey View Post
    I've heard that the Hero lacks a proximity sensor, so when you hold it up to your face the screen stays on. Have you had any instances where you were dialing or hanging up on people with your cheek?
    I haven't done it, but that is the nice thing about capacitive screens. Unless you have a pointy protruding piece of face, you will likely never inadvertantely hang up on someone.
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       #17  
    Quote Originally Posted by spare View Post
    How often did your pre crashed? Is the amount of crashes common for others as well?
    My Pre can get a bit jerky at times when I'm trying to do multiple things but it has never completely crashed on me in 3 months of usage.
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       #18  
    Quote Originally Posted by Jaggrey View Post
    I've heard that the Hero lacks a proximity sensor, so when you hold it up to your face the screen stays on. Have you had any instances where you were dialing or hanging up on people with your cheek?
    That's true, and I have occasionally dialed numbers with my ear, but overall it's not a problem.

    I try not to hold the phone right up to my ear anyway cause it can sometimes get a bit greasy afterward, if you know what I mean
  19. #19  
    Quote Originally Posted by pogeypetey View Post
    I haven't done it, but that is the nice thing about capacitive screens. Unless you have a pointy protruding piece of face, you will likely never inadvertantely hang up on someone.
    Well I don't know about that. My lady's first Pre had the problem where she was doing just that - hanging up on people with her cheek. I wondered why my phone would only ring for half a second when she called. That was what led me to discovering that the phone wasn't turning off at her ear.

    Quote Originally Posted by mxu030 View Post
    That's true, and I have occasionally dialed numbers with my ear, but overall it's not a problem.

    I try not to hold the phone right up to my ear anyway cause it can sometimes get a bit greasy afterward, if you know what I mean
    Yup definitely... I'm always wiping my phone down.
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  20. #20  
    Quote Originally Posted by Jaggrey View Post
    Well I don't know about that. My lady's first Pre had the problem where she was doing just that - hanging up on people with her cheek. I wondered why my phone would only ring for half a second when she called. That was what led me to discovering that the phone wasn't turning off at her ear.
    Yeah, I see what you mean. The Pre is different in that regard. While I have never hung up on anyone with the Pre, I can see how it could happen. Holding the phone up to my face, the whole phone comes into contact with my skin. With the Hero it does not... maybe that's it.

    Either way, capacitive screens are "supposed" to be less succeptable to inadvertant touches.
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