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.