Monday, December 14, 2009

Green Gadgets for Gift Giving

Do you have a geek on your holiday gift-giving list who's also conscious about the environment? Many gadget and gizmo makers are finding that consumers appreciate devices that don't gargle down vast amounts of power or otherwise negatively impact the world's ecology.

For example, the $499
Generator notebook case from Voltaic Systems Inc. has a solar panel and internal battery powerful enough to charge a notebook computer, not just an iPod or cell phone.

Need a few tips? Take a look at
my piece on green high-tech gifts in today's New York Daily News.

Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features. Photo courtesy of Voltaic.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Motorola Droid Lands at Verizon Wireless

You've seen the dark and stormy TV commercial teasing us about the device that's going to do all sorts of nifty things that Apple's iPhone can't. Now it's here--almost.

Motorola's Droid smartphone , the first with version 2.0 of Google's Android operating system, won't arrive at Verizon Wireless stores until November 6, but the press received a preview this week at special events in New York and elsewhere.

My first look and complete review of the Droid are up at PC World .

Let me know what you think.

Text Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features. Photo courtesy of Verizon Wireless.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Booklet 3G netbook: Nokia turns a page

A notebook from Nokia? What is the netbook world coming to? Maybe to a Best Buy near you ... or at least Nokia hopes so.

At a splashy press event in New York this week, Nokia introduced the Nokia Booklet 3G, its first foray into the already crowded notebook market. Not surprisingly, the 2.76-pound netbook focuses not on top-shelf processor power or on graphics muscle, but on connectivity and uptime, and in these respects it may succeed.

"It was a decision to start with what we know," said John Hwang, head of the Nokia product team which developed the ultrathin netbook. "And that's mobility."

The Booklet 3G ($299 with a 2-year data service contract) includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 support, but also includes a 3G HSPA wireless data modem for the AT&T Wireless network. A slot is provided for the necessary AT&T Wireless SIM card. The unit also promises 12 hours of battery life per charge.

"It's not 12 hours in the brochure, it's 12 hours true battery life," said Lars Boesen, senior director for OEM emerging market business development for Microsoft Corp.

He noted that the Booklet 3G comes with Microsoft's upcoming Windows 7 operating system, which is optimized for the 1.6-gigahertz Intel Atom Z530 processor at the heart of the unit. Windows 7 will go on sale Oct. 22.

He said the unit comes with just a small suite of preinstalled software, thus allowing the user maximum use of the Booklet 3G's 120-gigabyte (GB) hard disk and 1GB of RAM. Also missing is a fan, he noted; the Booklet 3G doesn't need one.

The 10.1-inch, 1280-by-720 pixel display was bright and sharp, but that resolution proved too low for some Web sites, like the newest version of Yahoo! Web mail. The site bumps users who come in at too low a screen resolution back to the less-glitzy "classic" version.

As small as the 0.8-inch thin unit is, it still has room for three USB ports, an HDMI port, a combination microphone/headphone jack and an SD Card slot. Just above the screen is a 1.3-megapixel webcam.

You can access the 3G data network directly with the Booklet 3G or via a Bluetooth connection with a cell phone. You can also synchronize your contacts, calendar entries, tasks, photos and other data between a cell phone and the unit via a Bluetooth connection. Boesen noted that the unit could move smoothly from a 3G data connection to a Wi-Fi connection without interupting the user's Internet experience.

The Booklet 3G, available in black, white or blue, will be sold exclusively at Best Buy until the first week of January 2010, when other stores will offer it, said a Best Buy representative. He said demonstration units would begin appearing in stores Oct. 25, at which time pre-orders would be taken. The units will ship about Nov. 15, he said.

The AT&T Wireless Web site will begin selling the unit Oct. 22. The Booklet 3G is $599 if purchased without a data plan.

Entering the PC space is something very unique," said Boesen. "We think this product is very, very good."

But a notebook from Nokia? Can it succeed in a market already laden with nifty low-priced netbooks? It certainly will be tough.

Then again, many of us gurgled and laughed a few years ago when Apple announced it was entering the cell phone market with something called an iPhone.

Text and lower photo Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features
Top photo courtesy of Nokia

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

IREX DR800SG Challenges Amazon's Kindle

You can't have too many digital book readers. At least that what IREX Technologies is banking on as it rolled out the IREX DR800SG at a well-attended press conference at the New-York Historical Society in Manhattan.

The new $399 unit, with a crisp 8.1-inch display and an very simple interface, seeks to take bite out of a market already crowded with Amazon's Kindles, the Sony Readers and other devices. It will be available in Best Buy by the end of October.

What do I think? See my piece in PC World. Then let me know what you think.

Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

NYPL Wi-Fi: No Power for the People?

Patience and Fortitude are the nicknames of the marble lions that guard the Fifth Ave. entrance to the famous New York Public Library building on 42nd St., but you may need a little of both if you want to use the free wireless Internet there for more than a couple hours at a time.

The NYPL recently opened a Wi-Fi Reading Room and Laptop Loan center in the elegant confines of the Edna Barnes Salomon Room, which has been the site of many art and book exhibitions and other special events. Aside from the classic paintings on the wall and the high ceilings, the room offers 16 long tables, each with eight comfortable chairs, thus providing seating for 128 Wi-Fi users. If you don't have your own laptop, you can borrow one for use in the room at no charge.

So what's missing from this picture? Power.

None of the tables here offer an AC power outlet. Thus you're at the mercy of your laptop's battery, which of course drains a little quicker when you're using its Wi-Fi adapter.

So what can you do if your device's low-power warning starts flashing? You could walk across the third floor to the southern half of the equally elegant Rose Main Reading Room, where all of the desks offer AC outlets. The room is covered by Wi-Fi and some of the desks also offer working Ethernet jacks for wired Internet access. Unfortunately, both the wired and wireless Internet access were down when I attempted to use them Tuesday afternoon.

From there you could have walked downstairs to the DeWitt Wallace Periodicals Room, another excellent working space also covered by Wi-Fi, but there are no AC outlets there either.

Kudos to the Fifth Ave. NYPL building for providing free public Internet access in an area where hotels and convention centers charge steep fees for the same. However, sometimes less is more.

Many of the smaller NYPL branches offer free Wi-Fi and dinky tables for laptop use--but they provide AC power strips, thus making them more useful, albeit less comfortable, than the august Wi-Fi Reading Room.

No, I'm not suggesting that the floor in the Edna Barnes Salomon Room be sawed up to accommodate floor AC outlets, but a powerless Wi-Fi Reading Room just misses the point.

What do you think?

Photo and text Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Samsung's DualView Cameras: About Face

Maybe it's a response to an epidemic of digital narcissism or maybe it's just a tip of the hat to the explosive growth of me-centric social networking sites. Either way, Samsung's new DualView digital cameras--the first ever with a second LCD screen on the front--seem to beg the question, "Now why didn't I think of that?"

The point is simple: The LCD on the front lets you frame self-portraits correctly instead of using the old "point-and-pray" method.

At a press event at New York's Time Warner Center, Samsung introduced its first two 12.2-megapixel DualView cameras, both of which feature 1.5-inch displays on the front in addition to larger touchscreens on the back. The TL 220 ($300) and TL225 ($350) come with 4.6X optical zoom lenses and 3.5-inch (TL225) or 3-inch (TL220) rear touchscreens.

Aside from being larger, the rear display of the TL225 is also sharper, with a resolution of 1.1 megapixels as opposed to the 230,000-pixel resolution of the rear display on the TL220.

As you frame the shot, the front LCD indicates whether the camera's face-recognition technology has locked onto your face and the smile-detection feature will snap your photo as soon as it detects an upside-down frown and your pearly whites.

Tim Baxter, co-president of Samsung Electronics America, said that instead of just taking photos of others, today's American camera user is more likely to put himself into his photos and share them.

"The role of the photographer has shifted," said Baxter, who added that camera makers "... cannot get by with selling a box that just takes pictures."

The front display turns on by tapping it and most camera adjustments are handled by the rear touchscreen, which vibrates to give tactile feedback when a button is touched. The camera also has a Gravity Sensor that lets you select functions by tilting the camera in the direction of the icon you want to activate.

Some of the functions of the camera's Smart Gesture user interface are truly intuitive. For example, to delete a photo, you simply draw an invisible "X" through it with your fingertip. The camera remembers up to 20 faces and will give exposure preference to the most frequently photographed faces.

If you engage the self timer, the front LCD will display a digital countdown. The front LCD can also be switched to a "child mode" in which it will display a cheerful, colorful cartoon designed to get children to look at the camera and smile.

"It's kind of a modern adaptation of 'look at the birdie,' " said Reid Sullivan, senior vice president of Samsung Electronics America.

The units, which will go on sale in September, are available in red, blue, silver, orange and purple.

Does a second LCD make sense to you?

Text Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features
Photo courtesy of Samsung Electronics America

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sprint's Samsung Reclaim: Lean & Green

Are you eco-conscious? Do you care what your cell phone is made of? Sprint certainly hopes so.

Last week, at a well-attended press event at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in Manhattan, Sprint introduced the Samsung Reclaim, a phone made of 80 per cent recyclable material. Two dollars from each purchase goes to the Nature Conservancy's Adopt an Acre program.

How does it rate? Read my review at

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

T-Mobile myTouch 3G: Google Android Take 2

Make it work, make it mine, make it easy: Those are the three customer wishes T-Mobile aims to fulfill with its new flagship smartphone: the myTouch 3G .
The touchscreen smartphone, manufactured by HTC and based on the same Google Android operating system software as the T-Mobile G1, offers a slimmer profile than the G1 thanks to its lack of a slide-out keyboard.
Highlights of the new unit include its large library of Android applications and the multitude of ways in which it can be personalized.
"It's a very sleek device," said T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Denny Marie Post (above, left), who readily admitted that her 15-year-old son was instrumental in helping her set up her phone. "You feel very bold to experiment with it.... It becomes 100% you."
"This is our first, and our real big bet for 2009," said Cole Brodman, T-Mobile's chief technology and innovation officer (above, right) at the July 8 press event in New York. "The myTouch 3G is unique through and through."

Brodman said there were already 5,000 Android applications available for the myTouch 3G and the G1, including many location-aware utilities that take advantage of the GPS receivers built into the phones.

For example, Sherpa, from Geodelic Systems, can locate points of interest close to you as you move around. Clicking a restaurant button will generate icons for the closest eateries, complete with the addresses and the distances from where you are. Click on an icon and the phone searches for relevant information on the restaurant, such as menus, travel directions, cuisine and reviews.

Rahul Sonnad, founder and CEO of Geodelic, said Sherpa was first developed for PCs, but was ported to Android as the software platform gained traction.

Brodman described Sherpa as a "really unique recommendation and discovery engine. He noted that it remembers the user's preferences as it processes requests. "The more you use it, the smarter it becomes," he said.

Brodman said T-Mobile's sales force had been trained to help users set up and personalize their myTouch 3G phones. "Make it work, make it mine and make it easy," said Brodman, taking the role of a prospective customer.

Current T-Mobile customers can pre-order the myTouch 3G for $199 with a 2-year service plan. Those who order by July 28 will receive their units by Aug. 3. The unit will be available in T-Mobile stores Aug. 5. The myTouch 3G offers a 3.2-inch touchscreen, aWi-Fi adapter, a 3.2-megapixel digital camera, a digital music player with a preinstalled four-gigabyte microSD memory card and support for T-Mobile's fast 3G data network.

After few minutes of testing, the phone worked well. The touchscreen was responsive and the Web browser rendered pages fairly quickly. The on-screen keyboard, which can be set up to give tactile feedback when a key is touched, flips over to the side when the phone is held in landscape orientation.

Post said the myTouch 3G was poised to be a viable challenger to Apple's iPhone to date. Time will tell.

Text and photos Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CompuServe Classic: So Long, Old Friend

No, your monitor won't blank out, your Internet connection won't stall and your PC won't crash, but a major event is about to ripple across the Internet today: CompuServe Classic is closing.

After 30 years the plug will be pulled on what was once the finest online service on the globe. (CompuServe 2000, a newer iteration of CompuServe will continue.)

And the saddest part is that it ends not with a bang, but with a whimper. Ask anyone about CompuServe today and the response will probably be "Are they still around?"

And that's not fair for a service that once meant so much to cyberspace--long before we started calling it cyberspace. It dates to a time when most home PCs didn't even have hard disks, just floppy disk drives, and when most PC users never went online.

CompuServe, the corporate entity, dates to 1969 but the CompuServe Classic online service for consumers debuted in 1979. In 1987 it was the flagship of online services with 380,000 users. A 1991 TV commercial trumpets CompuServe as the only online service with more than a half-million members.

Unfortunately time, and its acquisition by AOL, has not been kind to CompuServe. In recent years it has barely been marketed. Its Web site looks like a throwback to the (gasp!) 20th century. The "build" date on version 4.0.2 of CompuServe for Windows NT, the latest version of the access software for CompuServe Classic, is January 11, 1999.

CompuServe Classic's demise will come six years to the day after MCI Mail, another once-dominant online service, went dark. The text-only service had a Spartan interface but was terribly reliable. Many major corporations used it as their default e-mail service.

CompuServe Classic was home to forums for every profession and special interest imaginable. For example, the old Journalism Forum attracted journalists from around the world and was a hotbed for some of the most lively flaming sessions (that means trading insults, young folks) as well as many intelligent debates.

CompuServe Classic introduced many of us cyberdinosaurs to services we now take for granted.

Online shopping? Stock quotes? Worldwide weather forecasts? CompuServe was providing all of that in the 1980s. Who needs color graphics, music and streaming videos? CompuServe could provide users with what they needed with plain text on a slow dial-up connection.

Today there's Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity and dozens of other travel sites on the Web, but in the 1980s it was the American Airlines EAASY SABRE service on CompuServe that introduced many of us to online airline ticket booking.

I still remember the joy of watching those first characters crawl slowly across the screen of my Tandy 100 laptop at 300 baud when I opened my CompuServe account in December 1985. How slow is that? Most of us can type faster than a 300-baud connection can send characters.

Even as newer services like America Online began to attract more users and overtake it, CompuServe managed to maintain an air of dignity. Its forums were more professional, its users were more cyber-savvy and the depth of its services and software libraries were far deeper than those of other services.

For example, when AOL started offering unlimited dial-up access in 1996, it didn't have enough modems in service to keep up with the spike in traffic. The result? Constant busy signals. Some users would go to sleep with their AOL connections on so they would have access to it in the morning.

CompuServe, on the other hand, always had the data capacity it needed. AOL's woes led to a memorable CompuServe TV commercial which ended with the punch line: "CompuServe: Get On with It." That bit of cockiness was short-lived, however, as AOL absorbed CompuServe in 1997.

So who will care when when CompuServe Classic goes dark today? I will as I retire my 23-year-old user ID : 72407,3343.

So long, old friend. And thanks.

NOTE: If you're a CompuServe Classic member and you haven't converted your e-mail address to the new system, put this blog down and do it now. You won't be able to do so after today.

Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Jitterbug J: Phone for Seniors Graduates

Just days after some Jitterbug phones were recalled due to a problem with making some 911 calls, Great Call Inc. is back with the Jitterbug J, its newest easy-to-use phone for older adults.

Jitterbug and Samsung recalled some phones sold after March 1, 2008 after they had problems making 911 calls when outside of Jitterbug's network. The problem is being repaired with a software patch.

The new Jitterbug J is sleeker, but still simple and has none of the 911 problems.

For more information, see my piece on the PC World Web site: Jitterbug J: Keeping it Simple

Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

CompuServe Classic E-Mail: The Next Generation

As CompuServe Classic readies for its final log off on June 30, CompuServe Member Services has thrown the switch on a migration utility that allows Classic members to keep their e-mail accounts alive.

Gone will be CompuServe Classic's old number-comma-number e-mail address format and in its place will be a standard POP3 e-mail address with the familiar "@" sign. Many CompuServe Classic users already have alternate POP3 addresses for their accounts. Those addresses will be preserved in the transition. Just don't expect to connect to the Internet through a CompuServe dial-up number after June 30--those are on their way out too.

CompuServe Classic members must convert to the new e-mail system by going to the CompuServe Mail Center by June 30. Here's what happens once they get there:

You can start the conversion process by logging in with a Classic numerical e-mail address or with the alternate POP3 access information.

Once you click "continue" on the screen above, the next one asks for some basic demographic information and offers you a chance to pick a new password.

From there you need to agree to the Terms of Service by typing in the letters that appear in the image box.

If everything goes well, you'll get the following welcome screen.

Finally, clicking the right button takes you to your new inbox.

As for accessing the new e-mail service with Outlook or another e-mail client, you'll need the new server settings. You can retrieve your e-mail as a POP3 or IMAP account with or without a secure connection (SSL). The port setting is found in the advanced settings section of Outlook and other e-mail clients.

The POP3 settings are:
POP: port 110 (SSL = port 995)
SMTP: port 587

The IMAP settings are:
IMAP: port 143 (SSL = port 993)
SMTP: port 587

So how did it work on my CompuServe Classic account? So far so good, but other users have reported some problems.

What about you?

Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Kindle DX: A Spark on the Paper Trail?

The debut of's Kindle DX electronic book reader Wednesday breathed a little fresh air into the hopes of the newspaper industry. Just a little, but it was a refreshing breath just the same.

Newspaper moguls have been scratching their collective heads for a solution to their dwindling readership and ad revenue numbers and the concept of an electronic book platform that the masses could embrace has been an elusive dream.

The Kindle DX, with its 9.7-inch, 16-gray-scale E-ink display and impossibly slim 0.38-inch profile, goes a long way in providing an electronic book reader that's as usable for textbooks and technical documents as it is for reading newspapers and blogs. But no, it doesn't go all the way.

The Kindle DX supports Adobe PDF documents in addition to its native format and can download entire books wirelessly in about a minute. Its 3.3 gigabytes of available storage is enough for 3,500 books. The $489 device won't be available until this summer, but is already taking orders.

At a well-attended press event at Pace University, which includes a Park Row building which was once home to the New York Times, CEO Jeff Bezos (above) said the new Kindle DX is meant to blend into the background, letting the user focus on the content.

"It gets out of the way so that you can enter the author's world," said Bezos amid the clicking, clacking and clunking of Twittering journalists and trigger-happy photographers. "It doesn't beep at you. It doesn't get warm in your hands."

Bezos noted that newspapers have been "an absolute best seller on Kindle." Readers can adjust the screen font and the number of words in each line and the unit automatically reorients the text if you turn the unit on its side or upside down.

Bezos said that paper survives today because it provide a better reading experience that most computer screens. "Paper is better. It's worth the hassle of printing," he said.

However he said the Kindle's low-glare paper-like display is easy enough on the eyes that eyestrain is not an issue.

The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe have signed on to deliver content to the Kindle DX and to sell the $489 unit at a discount -- in exchange for a long-term newspaper subscription. The units would be available in areas outside of a paper's delivery zone.

"This experiment ... demonstrates our commitment to reinvention," said Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the New York Times Co. He said the Kindle DX combines "the immediacy of the Web with the portability and depth of the newspaper."

Students at Pace as well as at Princeton University, Case Western Reserve University, Arizona State University, Reed College and Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia will get first crack at the units through a trial program, said Bezos. has also inked agreements with major textbook publishers, he said.

So will the Kindle DX signal the beginning of a new generation of electronic book readers that are user friendly enough to be embraced by the public as well as those still willing to advertise in newspapers? Now there's a big "Maybe."

What do you think?

Text and top and bottom photos Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features
Middle photo courtesy of

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It's Over! CompuServe Classic is Closing

CompuServe Classic, the legendary online service that once dominated the industry, will close June 30 after 30 years in cyberspace. CompuServe 2000, a newer iteration of the service, will remain online.

Long outdistanced by newer rivals and long neglected since its acquisition by America Online, its membership has dwindled to a relatively insignificant number of cyberdinosaurs -- including myself. My CompuServe Classic account dates to 1985; six years after CompuServe's online services for personal computer users debuted in 1979. CompuServe itself was founded in 1969.

While CompuServe Classic's passing won't affect too many Web surfers, it will indeed close a major chapter in the evolution of cyberspace. I'll miss my old numerical address: 72407,3343.

Below is the text of the closing announcement.

So long, old friend.

-----Original Message-----

From: CompuServe Member Services
Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 4:18 PM
Subject: Important CompuServe Classic Account Notification

Dear CompuServe Classic Member,

After many years of providing online services, we regret to inform you that as of June 30, 2009 the CompuServe Classic service will no longer operate as an Internet Service Provider. We hope this does not cause you an inconvenience.

Note that this shutdown only relates to the CompuServe Classic service. The CompuServe 2000 service will continue to operate as it does today.

We're aware that this change may raise several questions for you.
Here's what this will mean:


* If you need dial-up Internet access, there are two options you may wish
to consider.

Netscape Internet Service (as low as $9.95 per month)
+ Includes 1 month FREE trial!
+ Unlimited dial-up access

AOL ($11.99 per month)
+ Includes 1 month FREE trial!
+ Unlimited dialup access
+ 24/7 tech support
+ McAfee security software
+ Unlimited email storage


* The last day you will be able to access your CompuServe Classic account will be June 30, 2009. Your dial-up access will no longer be available after this date.

* We urge you to immediately forward, back up, move or otherwise copy to a location outside the CompuServe Classic system any stored data you wish to keep. This data will be inaccessible after the CompuServe Classic service is closed on June 30.

* The CompuServe Classic Ourworld "homepage" service
( will also close on June 30. After that date, you will be unable to access or retrieve any images, files, or other material stored in the Ourworld service. Any content you wish to retain must be saved to a new location before June 30.

* Your final monthly charge for the CompuServe Classic service will occur on your June billing date.


* We are creating a new email system where you will be able to continue
using your existing CompuServe Classic email address. This new email
service will be available to you at no charge - but you will need to
provide your own Internet access.

* Some of the benefits of the new email system include:

+ Unlimited storage lets you keep as many messages as you want
+ Ability to receive large messages (up to 16MB per message)
+ Industry leading spam and virus protection to help eliminate
threats and hassles
+ Mail filters that allow you to store and organize mail
+ Open accessibility and compatibility with IMAP & POP3
+ Seamless integration w/ AIM for instant messaging

* The transition to the new mail system will occur in mid-May. More
information will be sent to you shortly concerning the migration
of your mailbox to the new CompuServe Classic mail system.


Member Services phone support will remain available for the
CompuServe 2000 service, and can answer any billing questions
about CompuServe Classic.

Should you have questions about the termination of this service,
please contact CompuServe Member Services at:

Tech Support
8 a.m. - 1 a.m. EST, Mon - Fri
10 a.m. - 10 p.m. EST Sat and Sun

Billing Support
10 a.m. - 10 p.m. EST, Mon - Sat
Closed Sundays and all major U.S. Holidays

We thank you for being a CompuServe Classic member over the past years.


CompuServe Member Services

Monday, February 02, 2009

Tempting Tech for Tough Times

Wallets are thinning and so are the head counts at major corporations, but there are still some nifty products out there that make us want to spend the little we have or at least dream about it. Take the LG-GD910 Watch Phone (above) from LG Electronics. It's a gadget Dick Tracy could be proud of.

Text Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features
Images courtesy of LG Electronics

Friday, January 09, 2009

Palm Pre: Preview to a Palm comeback?

The 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show is in full swing in Las Vegas right now (I'm not there this year) and so is the inescapable blizzard of press releases, Twitter tweets and other flashes from the show floor.

While there are plenty of nifty new devices that make good use of today's technologies, there are not many product announcements that have made a major ripple so far.

One notable exception, however, is Palm Inc.'s new Palm Pre smartphone. Like Apple's iPhone, the Pre has a touchscreen, but unlike the iPhone, it also has a slide-down QWERTY keyboard.

Palm has authored a new operating system for the new phone: Palm webOS. Like the Android software developed by Google for T-Mobile's G1 smartphone, webOS is an open platform, which bodes well for seeing nifty applications for the Pre from independent software developers.

The Pre has a 3.1-inch touchscreen, a 3-megapixel digital camera, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a Web browser, e-mail and instant-messaging software, eight gigabytes of data space and some preinstalled applications. It will be available from Sprint later this year and support the carrier's 3G high-speed data network. No pricing has been announced yet, however.

Like any Palm device, a lot of time has been put into developing the unit's calendar and contact list applications. The phone merges data from different sources to make it easier to manage. For example, if you have the same person listed in the contact list on your computer and on your Gmail contact list, the phone will detect that it's the same person and provide just one listing for that person on the phone. The Pre can run multiple applications at once and allows you to flip quickly between them.

It's been a while since Palm has created this much buzz for a new product. The announcement of the Pre sparked a boost in Palm's stock price. It remains to be seen if this unit will have the necessary level of user-friendliness and reliability to make a dent in a market dominated by Research in Motion's Blackberry devices.

Is the Pre for you? Why or why not?

Text Copyright 2008 Stadium Circle Features
Images courtesy of Palm Inc.