I picked up a Palm Pre the first day it was available, June 6. I’m very happy with it overall. It works very well as a phone (both sound quality and override of other apps), and I love the easy flow and integration between the different apps and underlying software. Designers put a lot of thought into usability. Also, it feels good to hold (my sister was surprised by how much difference it made to hold it rather than just look at it), and it’s pretty. The 3 megapixel camera is *great*. Upgrades have come out pretty frequently, improving the battery performance and adding more functionality each time. I don’t care so much about the M$ Exchange and enterprise security stuff that came out with the 1.1 release last week, but it’s probably good for folks who want to read their work Outlook email on their phone.
Right now I’m listening to my Classical Gas station on Pandora on my Pre, checking my calendar (without having to pause/close Pandora), and charging off my OLPC XO laptop (where I’m composing this entry — the Pre keyboard works fine for me to compose short replies, up to a paragraph, maybe, but it’s not great for long compositions). In a pinch, it works ok as a primary computer (there’s even a way to hack it to run a terminal window for command line/ssh joy, though I haven’t done that yet). I had pretty minimal wifi access on a recent beach vacation with my family, but I was able to keep up with my usual Web hangouts via the Sprint network my Pre sees. I’ve been able to read my email on my Pre inside a concrete auditorium. Web rendering is fast and the landscape rotate and pinch/zoom and double-tap snap zoom (scrolling stays in the column selected) make it pretty easy even to read busy websites with 3 or more columns.
This is my first smartphone, but it’s hardly my first Palm — I started with a Palm IIIx pda, then moved up to a Zire after I dropped the IIIx on its corner. I might still be on the Zire, but it started flaking out in March and pretty much went into a coma in April. I was able to migrate my data each time. The Classic emulator lets me run my favorite tools from my old Palm. The Pre also syncs with my contact info from GMail and Facebook (after I enabled that), “stacking” the info from the different accounts so I can see it all together (automatically in most cases, but easy to link if it misses a connection between friends’ accounts). Most contact info is in the cloud, but there’s also an automatic backup of data I add to the Pre (though I haven’t had to restore from it yet, and it *doesn’t* save customizations such as settings tweaks to apps).
The Pre costs about $200 with a 2-year contract (Sprint, $70/mo for 450 minutes + unlimited data/texting/gps navigation). With taxes and the insurance I signed up for, it’s running about $87/mo. It’s not a must-have, but I’m having fun with mine.
Next, I’ll review the apps, and then the accessories. In the meantime you can check out very detailed reviews and videos on PreCentral.net. I’ve saved the most interesting articles from there and elsewhere in my links library with the Palm tag.