Palm Pre - Days 1-3

I thought I would write/journal about how I'm making out using the Palm Pre as a reference for any of my clients/followers who may be considering the Pre and anyone else who is interested. This is also going to be the start of more technology-oriented postings as I get a chance to get my hands on more hardware and software, so keep coming back and/or subscribe to the RSS feed to get all of the postings as they happen. A little bit of background - I have used a Windows Mobile device for many years and switched to the Blackberry(BB) Bold in November.  I have used the BB Storm, but never did anything with the iPhone other than play with it in the store (still waiting for multi-tasking).  I was in line to get the Pre bright and early Saturday morning and was 7th in line at 7am at my local mall.  Still wasn't early enough to get the last Touchstone - Kevin Tofel from JKontheRun got it (enjoy it Kevin!), but one is on order.

First, the unit is very well built. It is a slick-looking device.  Most everything is black and blends well with the whole esthetic of the device.  So much so that I used the device for several hours before I noticed the power switch!  The slide works well and the screen is gorgeous!

I spent quite some time on Saturday learning how to get around the unit and setting up calendar and email accounts.  Synching over the air to the cloud is nice and easy.  I use Exchange at work and Google for my personal stuff.  Setup couldn't have been easier and am very happy with that experience. The calendar shows my Exchange and Google calendars in different colors.  I see my wife's Google calendar right next to my Exchange and Google calendars, so its easy to see when she has scheduled something that might impact me, but hasn't made its way onto my calendar.

Email is nice too.  You can view a unified inbox, showing you all of your email in one view, or view your mail by separate inboxes, which is nice to keep work and personal separate. Contacts from both of my Exchange accounts and my Google account show in a common view.  For those people who you have in more than one account, it will show you on the picture how many accounts it is "combining" together to give you all of their contact information.  I know people were worried that it would really co-mingle all of the records together, but I haven't seen any evidence of that. You may get more people in your inbox than you would ordinarily have, but unless memory becomes an issue, I really don't see what the harm in that is.

The web experience is good too. Its taking a little getting used having to zoom in and out, as I'm used to the BB Bold, which doesn't have to do that.  Zooming in and out to see just what you want takes a little practice, but it couldn't be easier, using the same pinch and push motions that the iPhone and Storm have made popular.  Having web sites that can recognize your browser and format the screen in nice.  But the Pre is a little too new still and the user agent id I guess will take some time to make its way through the Internet so less zooming will be necessary.

I'm a NASCAR fan and as fate would have it, wasn't able to be home for much of the race on Sunday.  But having the Sprint Palm Pre made that situation much more bearable.  With the NASCAR app on the Pre, I was able to follow along and even listen to the radio broadcast and in-car scanner chatter when the situation permitted.  Very nice and its a feature I know I'll be using a lot this season!

I have mixed feelings about the keyboard.  It is responsive but small.  Coming from the BB Bold, whose keys are much larger, it is taking some getting used to.  And I need to use my fingernails to type - I can't seem to work the keys when I try using the pad of my finger.  Since I've used phones which are not sliders for so long, I find it awkward to have to slide the keyboard down if I didn't start using the phone that way.  I know that is a personal quirk of mine and one I'll get over.

There are two things so far that I've noticed that Palm needs to address right away.  The battery life need improving.  I have a one-hour commute into Philly every morning and I listen to podcasts using wireless Bluetooth headphones.  I started the day at a 100% full battery and by the time I got into my office 1 hour and 15 minutes later, it was down to 82%.  Doesn't look like I'll be making it through the rest of the workday, let alone my commute back home with another hour of wireless audio. Now to be fair, I don't think my Bold could do that either, but my iPod driving the Sony Bluetooth adapter can go the better part of a week without a recharge (the headphones are another story).  This is with WiFi off and no web browsing or other activities to drain down the battery. Palm needs to figure out how to tweak it with another update SOON.

The other is the lack of apps.  I think Palm made a grave mistake not getting the SDK out months ago so they could have apps ready to go in the App Catalog on the day of launch.  They need to get apps out fast.  You don't realize what a difference having a mature platform makes until you don't have one.  Get moving Palm and get more apps out there!

That's all for now, but I'll but posting more about my experiences with the Pre over the next several days and probably beyond, so come on back soon.

Thanks for reading.