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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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By Black69ta on 1/8/2009 6:48:02 PM , Rating: 2
What is exciting about the palm spec.

Here is the Touch Pro specs:

640 x 480 2.8" Screen!
Port or Land Mode!
Audio Output w/ adapter!
802.11b/g WiFi
microSD Card Slot! (unlimited Storage)
Slide out QWERTY keyboard!
Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR!
Primary Camera 3.1MP!
Secondary Camera 0.3MP!

0.3" smaller Screen but other than that is has the same or better specs and it is already out and it runs Windows Mobile 6.1 (While maybe not the best OS, I think it will be the most widely supported OS for years yo come.)

By v3rt1g0 on 1/8/2009 7:11:05 PM , Rating: 3
Dear Sir,

I regretfully inform you that your sarcasm detector is broken.


By UNCjigga on 1/8/2009 7:14:52 PM , Rating: 1
You forgot to mention the Touch Pro FAILS because at it's core is a 3-year old OS (WinMo 6.1, built on top of WinMo 6, built on top of WinMo 5....)

By retrospooty on 1/9/2009 9:26:02 AM , Rating: 2
Yup... and all Winmobile OS are gutwrenchingly aweful.

By Totally on 1/10/2009 2:33:19 AM , Rating: 2
Hey! Hey! Hey now, let's keep things civil. This is palm glorious return lets keep it on topic.

<cuddles Touch Pro> I don't care what those mean people say about you, your still my baby </cuddles>

By Targon on 1/9/2009 8:05:11 AM , Rating: 2
Specifications are what cause so many people to be disappointed with many devices out there. The issue isn't about the specs, it is about the user interface.

The specs on the iPhone are not all that fantastic if you just look at them, people are more into how you USE the thing. The same applies here, how you use the Palm Pre(or whatever they call the AT&T or Verizon version) is what has many people excited.

Then you have to look at the OS as well. Is it fast and responsive? How about multi-tasking and stability? On paper it may look good, but if your phone crashes, have you lost your data? What about the quality of cell phone service, including things like speakerphone and how good the speaker/microphone are?

If you are willing to post on a DT article, you should know that the specs on paper for ANY device often sound a lot better than the product performs. You could see devices that on paper can handle 3TB/second bandwidth, yet can't keep up with 3MB/second rated devices.

You also need to look at how far Palm has come, not how long it has taken to get there. Palm was the leader a long time ago, but lost their lead. If they can even get back to the point of making truly competitive products again that are not just a niche product, they deserve credit for FINALLY getting back on track.

The lack of a SD card slot may very well be fixed by the time the product comes to market(remember it isn't available yet), or when an AT&T or Verizon version come out.

I personally HATE the feel of Windows Mobile, and the stability of the OS is far from great. It will take a while before we know how stable WebOS is, but if it is Linux based, it SHOULD be far more stable.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates
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