Woot, I got one! I’ll post again once I get the pictures off of the camera, but I got to the local Sprint store at 7:00 (AM!!!!) this last Saturday, waited for an hour, and managed to snarf up 2 Palm Pres– one each for my beautiful bride and I.
I realize I need to put up something more deep than “WOW! AWESOME! OUTSTANDING! I LOVE IT!”, but honestly, that’s about all I can muster right now. This is definitely the device I’ve been waiting for the last 10 years. Amazing interface. Excellent graphics. Beautiful applications. Perfect synchronization with my Google information (it does desktop syncing too, iirc, but that’s so early 90’s!). REALLY fast USB data transfer (like, I’ve never seen anything this fast before). The Touchstone charging thingey is mind-blowingly cool and simple and elegant (induction charging == no wires for charging!). Music and Video playing is dead simple and being able to transfer my music/videos from Linux is a must-have (sorry, Apple, you intentionally suck at this, so go away). In a word: perfect. Seriously.
The apps I’ve been using thus far are Pandora, Accu-Weather, Tweed, YouTube, and of course all the built-in goodness (calendar, contacts, mail, clock, calculator, google maps, GPS navigation, etc.), and I am 100% impressed and satisfied. The WebKit-based Pre browser does an extremely nice job, and the multi-touch zooming, auto-screen rotation, and scrolling is beautiful. Though Adobe hasn’t seen fit to provide their proprietary Flash browser plugin for the Pre yet, the Palm guys have done a really nice job at hiding that fact, from what I’ve seen so far (open the browser and go to youtube.com, for instance, and click on a video and it launches the video in a separate application). I believe I’ve heard that Adobe/Palm have said that Flash will be available for the Pre before the year’s end, so it may be a non-issue soon enough.
One final thought I had while playing with the Pre for the last couple of days…. As I mentioned previously, I’m a gadget geek, and have been using Palm devices for longer than I’d care to remember. People have made a big deal about Palm’s demise and how bad they have been doing and how it seems like they’ve been intentionally trying to drive people away from them and make themselves go out of business. And all of that seems true, especially having been one of the few, ashamed, die-hard Palm geeks myself. And while the Palm 5 OS seems gosh-darned ancient and ugly and ridiculous, especially compared to the sexiness of the iPhone, Android, and now especially their new WebOS, I think it’s important to remember the fact that for a LONG while, Palm was truly the innovator of the handheld/PDA world. Unfortunately, Palm has had a rough ride in recent years and hasn’t been able to kill off the old Palm OS (and don’t think they haven’t tried!) with anything revolutionary… until now.
As I was playing with my new Palm Pre, it struck me that a lot of the innovations that you see on it and similar devices these days were first done by Palm. Flip the screen sideways and go from portrait to landscape? Palm did that YEARS ago. Of course, the accelerometer wasn’t around then to make it automatic, and PDA hardware couldn’t do the fancy and smooth transition animations, but still, Palm had that idea a while ago and implemented it nicely. Multi-layer launchers? Yep, Palm did that a long time ago. Web browser on your PDA? Yep, Palm did that too.
My point is this: it seems that people are hesitant to think that Palm could actually be breathing new life again… that they’re tired of waiting for Palm to get their act together and do something meaningful… that they’re just copying the iPhone and the Android. Well, as one who was thinking exactly these things before I got my hands on the Palm Pre a couple of days ago, I can tell you that Palm is breathing new life again, that they have finally been able to rise above the old Palm 5 OS, that they have definitely gotten their act together, and most importantly, they have done something extremely meaningful with the Palm Pre. And in retrospect, I don’t think we should be surprised at this. Palm has been innovating handlheld computing for longer than anyone else, and with the Palm Pre, I think they have shown that they are still REALLY good at it.
I have been waiting for a long time for “the one device to rule them all”–for one device that intentionally plays nicely with whatever operating system I want to use, that handles synchronization with my calendar, contacts, and email flawlessly, that has a built-in GPS, that has a good built-in music player, a good built-in movie player, has built-in internet access, a good web browser, is extensible via apps, and has a good screen. I am really excited with the Palm Pre because it is finally “the one device to rule them all,” and it does it REALLY well. The GPS is awesome (better than that on the Nokia N810), by the way, and the music and movie players are gorgeous. And everything you’ve heard about the responsiveness, multi-tasking, beautiful screen, and nice little details are true. =:)
Anyway, that’s about all the words I can muster. I’m very happy with the Palm Pre, and feel like even though I “missed out” of being a gadget geek for the last couple of years with the iPhone, the wait has been worth it. =:) I really think Palm has done something special here with the Pre, and I wish them the best of luck. Being that every store in the state of Massachusetts was completely sold out of Palm Pre’s and their new Touchstone chargers within 4 hours of opening, I have a hunch that they’ve knocked this one out of the park. Well done, Palm!