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The Palm Prē: Whatever the Touchstone touches stays touched

The Reverend Dr GalactusThe Reverend Dr Galactus Registered User regular
What is this Prē?

It's a new smartphone, heralding a new platform from Palm. See "The Story" below for mad deets.


Reviews:

The reviews are in, and it looks like, against all odds, Palm has somehow pulled it off. The first part, anyway. They've introduced a brand-new platform, in the form of a phone, that is, in the words of John Gruber, "the only other phone in the iPhone's league." Now, will people actually buy it? Will devs actually make stuff for it? There are no guarantees in this industry, as Palm is certainly well aware.

Engadget is psyched by the "astounding amount of things that Palm nails out of the gate" but is even moreso for the future.

Gizmodo is afraid they will get cut by the edge of the sliding keyboard, which they show, on video, is capable of cutting cheese.

Wired is impressed all around, and can't get over that multitasking goodness.

The WSJ (Mossberg) praises the design and especially the fact of the keyboard, but says success will hinge on how the app store improves.

You want more reviews? Boing Boing Gadgets has rounded up fourteen of 'em.


The story:

Let's go back to late 2006.

The Motorola RAZR was the bestselling phone, Palm was plodding along complacently with its Treo series... and rumors were swirling through the gadget world that Apple had been working on a phone.

Right about then, Palm's CEO Ed Colligan told the press "PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in." Some kind of newfangled i-sorta-phone from Apple, who had never made a phone in its history, was clearly no threat on Palm's radar.

Then January 2007 happened. Oops. Apple, much to Palm's glassy-eyed shock, did "just walk in." The iPhone's OS, UI, and hardware looked like they came from another world. It was as if Palm's quiet, agrarian society had suddenly met its gunpowder-inventing neighbor.


Fast-forward two years to January 2009.

NPD shows the iPhone 3G at the top of the smartphone charts, still unthreatened by others playing catch-up such as RIM's Blackberry Storm and HTC's Android-running G1. Palm is limping along with devices for which "last-gen" seems a charitable label.

Now it's Palm's keynote at CES. The gadgeterati gathered in the room pretty much know it: This is Palm's last big chance. Either they show something completely awesome in the next hour or their next CES will be at a bankruptcy hearing.
11:33AM - Okay — pause for a mid-show thought: the stuff Palm is showing so far is REALLY exciting. It’s a little early to call this, but it seems pretty clear: Palm is back.
----
12:22PM - Wow. Well, that was kind of amazing, and I don’t say that very often. Yes, we are lacking a LOT of really important details, but there’s little doubt that Palm is back in a big way, and that this OS and device has the potential to make up for many of their missteps over the last five years. Can’t wait.

A photo of the device doesn't really show you anything:

palm-pre-rm-ces-main-600.jpg

Yup. That's a smartphone. With a slide-out keyboard. Who cares?

Well, as made all too clear in the post-iPhone era, the part that matters is the UI. And that's where Palm may have actually out-iPhoned the iPhone.

The afore-quoted Mr. Block's liveblog of the keynote is still actually the best way to see the hotness at a glance. Among the stuff that Palm is bringing:
  • Run multiple apps at once and switch between them with a "card" view that looks kind of like mobile Safari with live updating
    palm-keynote-ces09-063.jpg
  • Automatically slurp up contact info and photos from a variety of places like Facebook and Gmail
    palm-keynote-ces09-055.jpg
  • Instantly search for anything on the device or internet sources just by sliding out the keyboard and typing (kind of like Spotlight or Quicksilver)
    palm-keynote-ces09-080.jpg


So. As you can tell from my going and making a huge OP about it, I'm pretty psyched about this. And I haven't even gotten into how the multi-touch screen extends beyond the LCD for extra gesture interaction, or mentioned the plug-less, induction-based charging base, or the brilliant little touches in the calendar...

Anyway. What do you guys think? I've avoided using the term "iPhone killer" as (in addition to finding it kind of dumb) I could see us ultimately ending up with the good things that come from having two really good alternatives competing with each other. Think Palm has what it takes to get there?

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    EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I like my iphone but you can tell it's not all the way 'there' yet in terms of what a smartphone could really be. I can't see competition being a bad thing at all in this arena.

    Any word on web-browser quality? I think good web-browsers are pretty much a pre-requisite to a quality smart-phone. Definitely the best part of the iphone.

    Ego on
    Erik
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    Helpless RockHelpless Rock Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I'm pretty impressed with all this phone can to do right up to the point of realizing I'm on Verizion and it's threw Sprint for at least a long stretch of time. And unlocking it into Verizion networks is apparently a no go by my understanding.

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    DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I have a Storm and all I can say is that I (a) love it and (b) wish it had more RAM. Memory leaks are the only thing I hate about it. It really doesn't manage multiple applications very well at the moment.

    The above looks promising.

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    Big DookieBig Dookie Smells great! Houston, TXRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I'll admit, I'm stoked. I've been with Sprint for forever, and one area where Sprint has been lacking for many years is their phone lineup. This phone looks like everything I've wanted in a phone, and it's actually coming for Sprint! Amazing.

    However, one thing I would like to see is video of the web browser. Unless it can operate at least as well as Safari on the iPhone, it won't every truly compete. Otherwise though, this sounds awesome.

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    ObsObs __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2009
    They won't pull it off.

    Not with that slide-out keyboard piece of shit.

    And if you're running multiple applications at once on a phone with current technology, chances are you're doing it wrong.

    Obs on
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    GeodGeod swim, swim, hungryRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Obs wrote: »
    They won't pull it off.

    Not with that slide-out keyboard piece of shit.

    And if you're running multiple applications at once on a phone with current technology, chances are you're doing it wrong.

    Every preview(check out Engadget) of the phone I've seen indicated that they indeed "have pulled it off." Most everyone that's tried it out has been very impressed.

    I'm currently on Verizon and will be till my contract runs out, but I'm hoping this thing gets on their network. Though I'm not sure of the exclusivity for Sprint and I'm sure no one knows. I read a rumor of 90 days or 3 months. If Palm was smart, they'd get this thing on every carrier they could.

    Geod on
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    EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Obs wrote: »
    They won't pull it off.

    Not with that slide-out keyboard piece of shit.

    And if you're running multiple applications at once on a phone with current technology, chances are you're doing it wrong.

    Why? We could multitask with computers a lot weaker than what they pack into phones these days.

    Just because you don't think people should do more than one thing at a time with a phone?

    Maybe you're doing it wrong.

    Ego on
    Erik
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    The Reverend Dr GalactusThe Reverend Dr Galactus Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Obs wrote: »
    They won't pull it off.

    Not with that slide-out keyboard piece of shit.

    I think I see where you're coming from. The iPhone's soft keyboard is certainly more elegant than having moving parts. That said (and I'm typing this on an iPod Touch right now) until Apple invents a way to make screens turn bumpy on demand, a physical keyboard is going to be more effective. And the way the instant search thing works, I honestly think the lessened elegance is a worthwhile tradeoff.

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    SpoitSpoit *twitch twitch* Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Obs wrote: »
    They won't pull it off.

    Not with that slide-out keyboard piece of shit.

    I think I see where you're coming from. The iPhone's soft keyboard is certainly more elegant than having moving parts. That said (and I'm typing this on an iPod Touch right now) until Apple invents a way to make screens turn bumpy on demand, a physical keyboard is going to be more effective. And the way the instant search thing works, I honestly think the lessened elegance is a worthwhile tradeoff.

    The iphone's keyboard is a pain in the ass to use when you don't put your full attention into it, and even then, has horrible accuracy.

    OTOH, the keyboard is the only thing I like about my 2 year old treo

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    Big DookieBig Dookie Smells great! Houston, TXRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I don't have an iPhone, but I do have an HTC Touch, and all I can say is that I would kill to go back to a physical keyboard at this point. Also, running multiple applications at once is... a bad thing? Where am I, what year is this?

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    SeeksSeeks Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    So it's like iPhone but with a keyboard... cool.

    Now if only there was someway to get Tracfone behind one of these babies.

    Seeks on
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    ObsObs __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2009
    Guys, mobile phones are not desktops.

    The average use case of a phone should be pulling it out, using a certain application for a few seconds and putting it away.

    You do not need to be using fucking task managers or killing processes to manage shit.

    What kind of shit are you guys doing that requires you to run multiple unrelated things simultaneously?



    There is only one thing I will concede about the iPhone keyboard, and that's that the keyboard in portrait mode is generally harder to use than the landscape. Apple should really allow for SMS to use a landscape mode. However, I don't see why physical keyboards are regarded as gold. Welcome to the FUTURE man. Someday everything will be a touchscreen. Someday, keyboards will just be flat multi-touch panels anyway. No moving parts, endless possibilities and configurations. That day, is tomorrow.

    Obs on
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    SeeksSeeks Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Buttons are better because it lets me type without staring at the keys, such as what I'm doing right now.

    It's downright amazing.

    Seeks on
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    ObsObs __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2009
    Yes, because everyone would rather look up at their monitors when typing on their mobile phones.

    Obs on
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    SeeksSeeks Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    But what if I see a phone number on the side of a moving vehicle?

    You gotta think of these things.

    Seeks on
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    Big DookieBig Dookie Smells great! Houston, TXRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Obs wrote: »
    Guys, mobile phones are not desktops.

    The average use case of a phone should be pulling it out, using a certain application for a few seconds and putting it away.

    You do not need to be using fucking task managers or killing processes to manage shit.

    What kind of shit are you guys doing that requires you to run multiple unrelated things simultaneously?
    I'm not sure I understand your point here. Lots of people do multiple things on their phone now, and I often find myself using it for more than just a few seconds at a time. If I'm at the doctor's office in the waiting room, I might have a web browser open, some music playing in the background, a game that I paused earlier (so I could open the web browser and find the solution on gamefaqs), etc. This is 2009 man, people do more things with their phone than just using it for a few seconds for very specific apps.

    Plus, it appears that the Pre is trying to solve the issue of multiple apps and stuff by simply letting you run whatever you want without having to worry about memory usage and processes and all that stuff. It seems really elegant.
    There is only one thing I will concede about the iPhone keyboard, and that's that the keyboard in portrait mode is generally harder to use than the landscape. Apple should really allow for SMS to use a landscape mode. However, I don't see why physical keyboards are regarded as gold. Welcome to the FUTURE man. Someday everything will be a touchscreen. Someday, keyboards will just be flat multi-touch panels anyway. No moving parts, endless possibilities and configurations. That day, is tomorrow.
    They have multi-touch panels now, and they suck. They look great in the movies and television, but in real life, you just can't beat physical buttons with tactile feedback.

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    EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I could send people texts on my w810 without looking at the phone at all. Can't do that on the iphone, and while I can get a pretty good speed going on the device, I notice it every time I'm trying to write something while paying attention to something else.

    I think the iphone's screen input is pretty good, but ideally I'd want a phone to have a fold-out keyboard and an on-screen touch interface (including an on-screen keyboard.)
    The average use case of a phone should be pulling it out, using a certain application for a few seconds and putting it away.

    Well, it's not the average use case of a smart-phone. Smart-phones are computers, and at the very least people expect them to have PDA functionality. I'll take a more capable operating system than a less-capable one any day of the week, because frankly it's nice to have a little computer around, without actually carrying a little computer around.
    Someday, keyboards will just be flat multi-touch panels anyway.

    Sooo sloooow.

    Ego on
    Erik
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    FatsFats Corvallis, ORRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I think the keyboard should have been on the front like a Treo. It'd be a little longer, but the thinness would make up for it.

    Otherwise, love it. I have several old Palm PDAs around here somewhere and I'm happy to see them back in the game. I won't be trading in my G1, but more competition is always a good thing.

    Fats on
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    ObsObs __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2009
    Ego wrote: »
    Well, it's not the average use case of a smart-phone. Smart-phones are computers, and at the very least people expect them to have PDA functionality. I'll take a more capable operating system than a less-capable one any day of the week, because frankly it's nice to have a little computer around, without actually carrying a little computer around.

    Yes it is, you just don't think about it.

    We're not talking about sitting down for an hour waiting somewhere and killing time by basically using your phone as a tiny laptop.

    What if I'm on the bus and want to check the score?

    What if I'm on my way to the club and want to check the traffic?

    What if I want to write a quick reminder to myself for later?

    What if it's close to the closing bell and I want to check my stocks?

    What if I was sent a picture from my mistress?

    What if I want to look for a quick place to eat?

    What if I need to update my facebook status at the drive through?

    What if I want to see what someone posted on twitter while waiting for lunch?

    What if I'm taking a shit and want to play a quick game?

    All these are situations where a smartphone is used, but only for a few seconds at a time, and they occur with great frequency throughout a day. These are things you may not have been doing late 2006.

    Obs on
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    Big DookieBig Dookie Smells great! Houston, TXRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Okay. So why would doing any of those things be a problem with the Pre?

    I think I still don't understand what it is you're trying to say.

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    ObsObs __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2009
    What I'm saying is we don't need multiple application support as badly as you guys think we do.

    Obs on
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    Big DookieBig Dookie Smells great! Houston, TXRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    You don't have to have it, no, but it's nice to have. Especially when it's well implemented.

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    EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    We're not talking about sitting down for an hour waiting somewhere and killing time by basically using your phone as a tiny laptop.

    Says who? They're powerful enough, I say let them be tiny laptops and let people do what they want with them.

    Who cares if you often use a smart-phone's features briefly? You also often pick it up and use it as a phone, at which point all those other features are useless. Being able to multi-task doesn't hurt the device at all, so bitching about having a more capable platform doesn't make lots of sense to me.

    While we're predicting the future of keyboards, I'll just predict the future of smart-phones and say that they'll get more and more powerful until one day they all multi-task, whether you like it or not.

    Ego on
    Erik
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    ObsObs __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2009
    Ego wrote: »
    While we're predicting the future of keyboards, I'll just predict the future of smart-phones and say that they'll get more and more powerful until one day they all multi-task, whether you like it or not.

    Not only will they multi-task, but you'll be able to dock them to a monitor and keyboard setup and use them as a desktop machine.

    Obs on
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    EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    stop stealing my dreams

    Ego on
    Erik
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    NovaRevNovaRev Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I have been multi-tasking with my Blackberry Curve for over a year now. Hell, I was multi-tasking with my Sidekick 2 over three years ago, which allowed me to keep up to 10 IM conversations going at once while also browsing the web, playing a game, etc. and included simple hotkeys to switch between apps easily without ever having to go to the home screen. That thing could even copy and paste...it was surprisingly powerful for a "kid" smartphone.

    On my Blackberry, I will typically be running my IM program, the browser, and my RSS reader constantly, opening other applications whenever I want to and switching between them freely with the alt + back application switch hotkey. This allows me to be browsing the web while holding multiple IM conversations and automatically receiving my favorite RSS feeds so that I can read them whenever I want to without having to actively download them first; they're just there when I want them. It also allows me to copy and paste things from the browser, or an email, or a text message, or a Word .doc, etc. into my task list, memo pad, IM conversation, calendar, or whatever. I can also get to my calendar, task list, memo pad, calculator, address book, etc. while talking to someone over the speakerphone, which is a very useful thing to be able to do.

    In short, multi-tasking on a cellphone is pretty awesome!

    NovaRev on
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    maximumzeromaximumzero I...wait, what? New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    While I don't use a smartphone, don't need one, and certainly wouldn't want to pay anything over $40 a month for a cell phone plan, I'm glad to see Palm attempting to take on the iPhone. Competition is good for the business.

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    AzioAzio Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    It's probably better if we all just ignore Obs because he will defend any Apple product until he gets bored. Arguing will get you nowhere.

    Any word on when this might reach our shores?

    Azio on
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    Big DookieBig Dookie Smells great! Houston, TXRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    It's fine if he likes Apple... the iPhone is an amazing piece of technology. I simply can't understand what he's trying to say. I just read over all his posts in this thread and I still don't really get it.

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    ObsObs __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2009
    Big Dookie wrote: »
    It's fine if he likes Apple... the iPhone is an amazing piece of technology. I simply can't understand what he's trying to say. I just read over all his posts in this thread and I still don't really get it.

    Basically, I don't think the Pre will be any major competition to the iPhone. The iPhone doesn't just compete in technology, it competes in image too. And holy crap, if the Pre really has that little line over the e, then good luck getting the masses to google search that correctly or even pronounce it right.

    Obs on
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    kpeezykpeezy Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    What?

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    UncleSporkyUncleSporky Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I think that's true in the MP3 player space, where all PMPs are called iPods by the masses like playing video games used to be "playing Nintendo."

    However, as cool as it is, the iPhone is really just another cell phone, an upgrade but nothing so implanted in the public consciousness. I could see something being more successful.

    I do not think that product is necessarily going to be this Palm, but who knows.

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    iTunesIsEviliTunesIsEvil Cornfield? Cornfield.Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Obs wrote: »
    And holy crap, if the Pre really has that little line over the e, then good luck getting the masses to google search that correctly or even pronounce it right.
    This is how we can tell when someone's point has gotten a little silly, methinks.

    iTunesIsEvil on
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    RhapsodyRhapsody Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Obs wrote: »
    Big Dookie wrote: »
    It's fine if he likes Apple... the iPhone is an amazing piece of technology. I simply can't understand what he's trying to say. I just read over all his posts in this thread and I still don't really get it.

    Basically, I don't think the Pre will be any major competition to the iPhone. The iPhone doesn't just compete in technology, it competes in image too. And holy crap, if the Pre really has that little line over the e, then good luck getting the masses to google search that correctly or even pronounce it right.

    Typing "pre" in google search shows the palm page as the third relevant hit. Typing "palm pre" gets it into I'm Feeling Lucky territory. Also, I think you just pronounce as it sounds, without the line above it. I don't see what kind of problem you're anticipating.

    Rhapsody on
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    EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    What is multiple application support? two things on screen at once?

    or is it just being able to switch between two programs without having to lose your place and restart them, because Windows mobile has done that forever.

    Evander on
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    OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Obs, you're being obtuse. Stop that.

    Unfortunately, guys, I suspect that he's still right (for all the wrong reasons) and Palm won't be able to "kill" the iPhone--as in beat its market share. I suspect that Apple has once again released a portable product which will maintain its throne even after phones that are clearly superior have been released. Because of marketing, and because of form over function.

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    EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    OremLK wrote: »
    Obs, you're being obtuse. Stop that.

    Unfortunately, guys, I suspect that he's still right (for all the wrong reasons) and Palm won't be able to "kill" the iPhone--as in beat its market share. I suspect that Apple has once again released a portable product which will maintain its throne even after phones that are clearly superior have been released. Because of marketing, and because of form over function.

    I disagree, owing to the fact that the function end, on phones, is a lot more important than the function end on PMPs.

    I also think that, right now, there is simply a lack of knowledge among the general public as to what most smart phones can do. This year "3G" was a big buzzword because of the new iPhone. The people running around repeating it generally had no idea that it's actually aq fairly old hat thing by this point, older than the original iphone itself.



    I see iphone popularity behaving more like the RAZR than like an iPod.

    Evander on
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    OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I hope you're right.

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    EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    The big idfference is that the iPod came on to the scene when there was no real competition. People stick with their Apple mp3 player because they know no other brand.

    As far as phones, people are familiar with Motorola, or Nokia, or LG, or HTC already. A better phone from a company that they already recognize is a thing that will catch their attention.

    Evander on
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    AzioAzio Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    OremLK wrote: »
    Unfortunately, guys, I suspect that he's still right (for all the wrong reasons) and Palm won't be able to "kill" the iPhone--as in beat its market share. I suspect that Apple has once again released a portable product which will maintain its throne even after phones that are clearly superior have been released. Because of marketing, and because of form over function.
    Palm does not need to kill the iPhone, they just need to make a reasonable alternative with a unique feature set that a decent number of people want to buy. I for one am intrigued.
    Evander wrote: »
    The big idfference is that the iPod came on to the scene when there was no real competition.
    There was plenty of competition, it's just that none of them were bright enough to market their respective products as "1,000 songs in your pocket" and were content to lurk in the back walls of computer stores with catchy taglines like "5GB Portable Digital Music Player"

    Azio on
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