Palm Pre: further impressions

It’s now been another couple weeks with the Palm Pre, and I’ve been refining my list of likes/dislikes. Some of my criticisms are generally smartphone-related, and I suppose would be equally applicable to any such device.
First off has been the realization that this is not a phone; it is instead a small computer that runs a phone application. The phone sounds decent on both ends of the line, gets no better or worse reception than my previous phones, dials beeps and boops like most any other, and yet, feels more like dialing up a contact on Skype than simply and instinctively punching in a number on a “real phone”. It’s as if all the extra (and welcome!) functionality has put just a little layer of hesitation between me and my phone.
Part of this has to come from my usage of the webOS launcher: as on my desktop, I habitually keep everything as minimized or closed as possible, preferring to launch apps only when I need them, vs. leaving them open in the background. This habit, I’m sure, comes from the days of rabid resource conservation on bootstrapped AT’s running DOSshell and 3.x.
With the webOS on the Palm Pre, not only is multitasking available, it is critical; background apps come to the foreground instantly, whereas there is a definite and annoying lag on most initial launches. I have only twice managed to bog down the OS with a glut of open apps, and yet I am constantly annoyed by how many taps and how much time it takes to launch the phone app and call up a contact. In practice, it is much faster/easier to just leave the phone and/or contact apps constantly running in the background.

Since my last review, I’ve upgraded the webOS, installed WebOSQuickinstall on my PC, downloaded PreWare, and loaded up a slew of homebrew apps and system patches. Now this is the Palm experience I had been missing! Without jailbreaking/downgrading/unlocking/custom firmware crap to contend with, or fear of “bricking” the device, here is a smartphone we can all dig into, with Palm itself providing the services and software to restore things should anything seriously bad happen.

Overall, the Pre isn’t quite there yet; the hardware lacks polish, the App selection is limited (but growing!), and the carrier selection is limited, but I feel confident that good things are on the horizon.



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