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Touchstone charger
Palm introduces new pre smartphone

Palm today held a special event to announce its answer to Apple’s popular iPhone and finally bring the company into the modern era of smartphones. Palm is starting with a blank slate thanks to a new operating system and a new smartphone which aims to please.

Palm started off with a new way of thinking -- as Palm Executive Chairman Ron Rubinstein stated, “Mobile is in our DNA.” Palm’s new efforts don’t revolve around the desktop as a tethering device or “home base” -- instead, Palm is looking to connect to the “cloud” of information online. Palm hopes to achieve this with its brand new webOS operating system. According to Rubinstein, anyone who can program for HTML, CSS, or JavaScript will feel right at home with webOS. The purpose of the webOS is to focus on “Your People, Your Time, and Your Critical Information”.

Tying Palm’s new philosophy to mobile telephony and the new webOS together is the new Palm pre phone. Palm’s 4.8-ounce pre aims to right the wrongs of its competitors while at the same time adding a few new twists of its own. The pre features EvDO Rev A, Stereo Bluetooth (a feature oft-requested from iPhone owners), 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, GPS, a fast OMAP processor, accelerometer, 3.0MP camera with an LED flash, and 8GB of internal storage.

The device features a 3.1” display with a 320x480 screen resolution. It also has a single, center button at the bottom of the device and a Gesture Area which provides direct access to the OS. Instead of a proprietary dock connector, the pre uses a microUSB connector located on the right side of the device and can be used as a USB Mass Storage Device. At the top of the device is a power button, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a ringer switch.

Palm’s Matias Duarte took more than a few jabs at the feature set of the iPhone and talked about how no one wants to use a finicky onscreen keyboard. Duarte then went on to show the pre’s keyboard which slides out from the bottom of the device. Duarte also pointed to a feature that was implemented by “popular request”: a removable battery. And speaking of the battery, the pre is charged using an innovative wireless “Touchstone” charging dock. You simply place the dock on your desk, plug it into the wall, then place your pre on top of the dock. The device is held in place thanks to magnets built into the dock – there is no need to plug the pre directly into in an AC adapter.

Martias also went into great detail about the webOS and the numerous gesture-based commands available on the pre. I cannot possibly cover every single feature in this space, but here are a few highlights:

  • The pre can have multiple applications open at once
  • The pre uses a "cards" system which shows open applications and allows you to flick through them using your finger
  • Bringing up the four traditional Palm application icons is done by placing your finger on the Gesture Areas and flicking up. This gives you access to what were once "hard buttons" on older Palm devices.
  • The OS supports Universal Search
  • Contact information can be pooled into a single place from multiple places (i.e., Gmail, Facebook)
  • The pre can be used in portrait or landscape mode -- the cards orient themselves automatically on device position  

Sprint will be a launch partner for the pre. The pre will be available the first half of 2009 exclusively from Sprint. Pricing is not available at this time.

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RE: The New Aquaman
By Targon on 1/8/2009 3:48:33 PM , Rating: 2
When you talk about the user interface(UI) on a device, it is all about how to use it, not what it looks like. I think a big factor in the "wow" department is how quickly it works.

Keep in mind that the old PalmOS had a GREAT UI, but it was slow and the OS would tend to crash, so you are looking at two big changes, the OS, and the UI.

Many people out there still love the old PalmOS, not because of the speed or features, but because it was easy to use and the applications make sense(for the most part). If the new UI is as good as the reaction implies, and the OS is fast, Palm will have a winner on it's hands, at least once a version for AT&T and Verizon are made available.

RE: The New Aquaman
By Mitch101 on 1/8/2009 3:56:26 PM , Rating: 2
I had 2 generations of palm devices. One that did good and the second that lost data. For simplicity it was ahead of its time. But I just didn't find anything exciting about this. Seems like its all been done before. I would like to see it in person but since its sprint I may not until Verizon gets one. Sprint kind of kills it because I know the basic function of this being a phone will bite. Maybe its the Sprint part that got me on a downer and killed off everything else.

RE: The New Aquaman
By Targon on 1/9/2009 8:35:22 AM , Rating: 2
I feel the same way about Sprint being the launch partner on this one, but don't get down on the phone for that one. In time(hopefully by November 2009) we will see new versions for AT&T and Verizon.

I am honestly looking forward to this phone being available, not for myself, but so Palm can work the kinks out before releasing it for the other carriers.

RE: The New Aquaman
By foolsgambit11 on 1/9/2009 7:45:13 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know why everybody's so anti-Sprint. I hear their customer service sucks. I wouldn't know. I haven't had to talk to them in the 8 years I've been with them. I've had them in rural Texas and rural Georgia, and been satisfied in both locations, as well as when I've traveled across country, and up and down both east and west coats. I don't know about data speeds, since I don't really use that. Nor am I on a 3G phone, so I can't speak to 3G coverage.

The fact that I'm not currently held to a contract with them is the one thing that would give me pause when considering upgrading to this phone with a data plan.

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