Palm Pre: Always hot

So I borrowed a Palm Pré that we had at Mozilla to see what it was like. I was at first very excited, I remember before the Pre was released there was a lot of talk about how awesome-fantastic it was going to be. The stories of awesomeness sort of died, and I had thought nothing of it.

Immediately upon using the Pre I figured out why. In short, it’s a crappy phone. It makes a very good attempt to do a lot, but it does them with such piss-poor performance, that nothing good is noticed.

I am disappointed. It’s not even in the same class as an iPhone - maybe a future generation of Palm devices will be, but not this one. I was hoping WebOS would be a good alternative to the iPhone. It looks like Google will be doing that, though their phones haven’t impressed me much either. I am hoping that maybe this phone is just a dud.

Here’s what I didn’t like: * The Palm was always hot. * The first run experience is painfully slow. * The first run was an indicator of things to come, startup and shutdown are ridiculously slow. * Every application is slow to render. * Not all elements of an app render. * The keys are too small. Some people aren’t migrating from a Treo and aren’t used to mini keys. * No soft keyboard. * The palm website doesn’t let you use plus-style addressing * Media Mode was not self explanatory - and forced the phone to not work. * Network would constantly drop out. Couldn’t use a lot of the data features. * Phone calls didn’t work so great. * Did I mention it was ass slow, even the dialing program was slow. * The battery dies quickly * I could only cut/paste when composing, but I couldn’t cut a string of text from an email. * Felt too much like an old palm

Despite the sadness there were a few good things:

  • When it did fetch email, and other notices, it displayed them nicely
  • The unification of Facebook and Gmail was pretty cool - it also made me want to trim some of those friends from highschool off my facebook - I ain’t ever gonna call em.
  • The Icons were pretty.
  • The card interface was interesting.
  • The travel charger could be modified to work in non US chargers fairly easily.

All in all, I’m glad that I had a chance to try out this device. It showed me, that user interfaces above all need to be very fast and responsive. Furthermore, everything you try to do should be done exceptionally well. I’m hopeful that software updates can alleviate some of the problem, but I think the root of the problem is slow hardware.