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  (Source: HP/Palm)

HP's Palm Pre 2 features webOS 2.0 and improved internals, but only packs a tiny 3.1-inch 320x480 display.  (Source: HP/Palm)
New device features a tiny 320x480 and won't launch in the U.S. until next month -- what is HP thinking?

Today Palm ended weeks of speculation unveiling the Palm Pre 2 (previously code-named Mansion) and its new webOS 2.0.  HP has shown its hand and it appears as underwhelming at best.

On the surface the device itself seems reasonably well-equipped, containing the kind of high-end hardware you'd find on a high-end Android phone.  The phone packs a 1 GHz processor (doubling the original Pre's processor which was underclocked to 500 MHz).  The camera is bumped from 3 MP to 5 MP.  Memory holds steady at 512 MB -- the same as the Pre Plus.  And the Flash storage -- 16 GB -- is also identical to the Pre Plus'.

The biggest disappointment is the screen.  The Pre 2 still packs the same 3.1-inch 320x480  HVGA display as its predecessor, at a time when Android and Apple have graduated to higher resolutions.  Other potential downside is the lack of microSD support and the lack of support for the latest/fastest 802.11n wireless standard.

If this was Hewlett-Packard's grand scheme to use its recent acquisition Palm to make a splash on the smart phone market, something seems to be missing. 

Compare Palm's launch today with Microsoft's launch of Windows Phone 7 next month and you'll realize that Palm is at a distinct disadvantage.  Palm only has one new handset -- Microsoft has nine (as does Android, for that matter).  Palm supports apps (including Angry Birds and Oprah Mobile!), Skype, Bluetooth, and VPN, but Microsoft is expected to support these things as well (and Android already does).

One of the only advantages that Palm holds over Microsoft is that webOS 2.0, features a refined version of true multitasking, which is available for both third party and built-in apps.  Windows Phone 7 is expected to only support multitasking for built-in apps, not for third party apps.  Then again, the iOS and Android platforms already support true multitasking, so Palm is hardly in a league of its own here.

The success or failure of the Pre 2 ultimately matters little to HP, other than perhaps as a matter of pride (it's chief rival Dell is designing/launching multiple upcoming Android and Windows Phone 7 smart phones).  HP can afford to sustain Palm even if the experiment isn't working out, in interest of one day trying to conquer the phone market.

But in the face of a fast-advancing smart phone market, HP needs to do something at some point if it ever wants to get ahead -- more handsets -- better hardware than its competitors -- some decisive advantage.  That something is not the Palm Pre 2 -- a single smart phone with a tiny, low-resolution screen and lack of brand recognition. 

But HP seems determined to go its own way and will launch the device into the packed market anyways.  The Pre 2 will launch Friday in France and in "coming months" in the United States and Canada.


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RE: That is one tiny screen!
By Samus on 10/19/2010 11:52:50 AM , Rating: 1
They clearly don't know jack shit about the phone marketplace. Sadly, over 10 years into it, neither does Microsoft, but we'll see if at least they reinvent themself....hmm, isn't that an HP term?


RE: That is one tiny screen!
By inighthawki on 10/19/2010 1:24:08 PM , Rating: 2
Had to slip in MS huh? You know, just because you don't like what WP7 is going to be doesn't mean there aren't others who do. It's clearly a quality made product if you get passed the few missing features (most of which are useless for its target market anyway).


RE: That is one tiny screen!
By Xenon14 on 10/19/10, Rating: 0
RE: That is one tiny screen!
By inighthawki on 10/19/2010 2:23:29 PM , Rating: 4
Features ARE what make the device, you just have to understand that the term "feature" refers to more than just the hardware level benefit over competition or included apps.

Yes, the Wii WAS worse on paper, but the attractive feature was motion controls. As far as WP7 goes, it may not have multitasking or copy/paste (yet) but it has what some may consider to be a very nice interface and great integration with existing software, as well as a selection of rather high-performing hardware via MS's specifications.

As for Palm, from what I've read, it has little actually going for it. They have a fairly generic looking phone with a small screen, (didn't take note on the CPU), and the last one wasn't that great either. So where is the interest?


RE: That is one tiny screen!
By mcnabney on 10/19/2010 6:36:28 PM , Rating: 2
Wii offered a significantly lower price and brought with it a completely new way of playing games. The Pre, not so much. Nice OS, lousy hardware. Pathetic marketing. At least this time it won't be anchored to a Sprint exclusive.


RE: That is one tiny screen!
By Samus on 10/19/10, Rating: 0
RE: That is one tiny screen!
By Chadder007 on 10/20/2010 1:39:11 AM , Rating: 2
I've already played with one, I still like the WebOS much better. It's more intuitive to me. Just wished there was a better form factor avail and more apps.


RE: That is one tiny screen!
By retrospooty on 10/20/2010 8:12:41 AM , Rating: 2
"I still like the WebOS much better. It's more intuitive to me. Just wished there was a better form factor avail and more apps. "

Me too... to bad it looks like it wont happen. I could totally love a Web OS Droid 2 hardware based phone, or perhaps Droid incredible-ish


RE: That is one tiny screen!
By Targon on 10/20/2010 10:14:31 PM , Rating: 2
The Pre 2 is really the Pre Plus Plus. In theory, the REAL Pre 2 will be a more significant upgrade, but HP/Palm is staying silent until 2011 when the big technology trade shows provide a stage for BIG product announcements. You may notice that the Pre 2 is really the existing Palm Pre Plus with some hardware improvements and a major OS update. The current Pre Plus can already be overclocked to 1GHz with ease, so making a STOCK Pre Plus that clocks to 1GHz isn't a big deal, except that it does it with less power draw than an overclocked Pre Plus.

Apple releases their big products at various times of the year, for iPhones, laptops, and desktops. Google just releases Android updates whenever, and various manufacturers pump out updates. HP never really got into the cell phone industry until they bought Palm, but there have been statements to indicate there will be multiple WebOS based phones released in the next 9 months or so.

A "slab" style with ONLY a touchscreen is something expected. A larger version of the current Pre Plus(or Pre 2) with a vertical slider design is what many have been waiting for. If you took the current Pre Plus or Pre 2 and gave it a 3.8 inch screen and also kept the vertical slider, that would be seen as a winner by many people. A tablet is also expected(PalmPad is the name floating around).

If you compare the Pre 2 to other high end devices on the market, the only thing that is weak is the screen size. 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, 16GB of storage is fairly standard right now, though the storage may seem small, it is enough for most people. How many devices actually exceed those specs? It is the screen size that people are complaining about, and having a physical keyboard does help compensate a BIT, but not enough.

I'd wait until March before counting HP/Palm out.


RE: That is one tiny screen!
By inighthawki on 10/20/2010 12:12:19 PM , Rating: 2
Nobody called it revolutionary, and the only reason i called it quality was because it looks like a superior and better performing version of the zune HD OS which i've used extensively and love. I've watched a lot of reviews on it as well, and done some development which is very nice. It is quite apparent that it wasn't something thrown together last second.


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