Palm showed its newest phone, the Palm Pre, a touchscreen smartphone running their new Palm webOS. The CES presentation room was full and many people were standing along the sidelines. Ed Colligan, Palm president and CEO, said Palm products have always been about simplifying lives and delivering great user experiences. Palm’s new smartphone is stylish looking enough to get a buyer’s attention, but it was their new OS that showed Palm hasn’t lost its innovative touch.
The Palm Pre smartphone features EV-DO Rev. A, which it will use on Sprint's high-speed, 3G network for browsing. The phone has Wi-Fi as well, and Bluetooth with A2DP support, plus GPS for turn-by-turn navigation, probably from TeleNav, which handles Sprint Navigator.
The high-resolution 3.1 inch, half VGA 320×480 display is a competitor for the G1 Android we recently reviewed, as well as the Apple’s Iphone, and Blackberry’s Storm. There is a new TI OMAP3 chipset based on the latest ARM core and 8GB integrated memory – so Adobe Flash Reader 10 should be in the final shipping version. There is a nifty 3 megapixel camera with LED flash along with special photo enhancement software, and finally, we get a standard sized 3.5 mm headset jack.
The Palm Pre's front side is a touchscreen with a single button. You slide the screen upwards, on a slight tilt, to expose a full keyboard. The keyboard has a similar feel to their well known Treo phones. However, the CES demonstration was done entirely using the touch interface – without the keyboard and no more familiar stylus either. For detailed specifications, see the Palm website.
Palm Web OS’ amazing design allows you to move easily between activities like flipping through a deck of cards and to rearrange items simply by dragging them. When you are done with something, just throw it away. No mention was made about limitations for open cards or applications.
Colligan said that the webOS and Pre bring game-changing simplicity to an increasingly mobile world. He added that the Pre and new webOS technology seems like it's thinking ahead to bring you what you care about most - your people, your time, and your information - in the easiest and most seamless way.
Synergy gives a single view that links your contacts from a variety of sources, so accessing them is easier than ever. For example, if you have the same contact listed in your Outlook, Google, and Facebook accounts, Synergy recognizes that they're the same person and links the information, presenting it to you as one listing. If you update a contact on your webOS device, it also will be updated in your various accounts, whether on a personal computer or on the web. We did not hear anything mentioned about running the old Palm applications on the new webOS.
We know that Marc Blank was brought into the company in early 2007, when Palm purchased his ChatterEmail program. Chatteremail is still widely considered as one of the best email solutions for Palm OS smartphones. We asked about IMAP synch and the engineer said yes that was one of items chatteremail’s Blank worked on.
IT Examiner was invited to the Palm reception upstairs in the Las Vegas Convention Center. We were the only reporter who came equipped with their own Palm Treo 755p. We were able to make a lot of direct comparisons with size, keyboard ease of use, and the fast connection to the Spring 3G network. In every test, the prototype Palm Pre was a clear winner – it had better be a clear winner over our two year old 755p which lost to both the G1 Android and Blackberry Curve/Bold in our reviews.
Palm’s marketing folks said one of their target markets was the enterprise user who didn’t want to be tied to the RIM (Blackberry) data network. We asked how they were going to convert existing Treo users, especially who were on Verizon networks. They said that one is being worked on with the help of Dan Hesse, Sprint’s CEO – the fellow who shows up in those black-n-white TV advertisements for them.
The Palm Pre is scheduled to be available first in the United States exclusively from Sprint in the first half of 2009, and will be followed by a world-ready UMTS version for other regions. Sprint's pricing for the phone has not yet been determined. A $175 price would undercut both the T-mobile’s G1 Android and AT&T’s Apple Iphone. However, the price could be in the $275 to $300 range based on past Palm Treo introductory pricing.
We have already asked Palm’s marketing folks for an early version to test. Every Palm employee in the room answered 'mid-year 2009'. X