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6/4/09

Questions From Readers About the Palm Pre


By David Pogue NY Times
In today’s Times, I reviewed the Palm Pre, a very exciting new star in the smartphone sky. Already, I’m being bombarded by questions for further information from You, the Readers.

And so, just as I did when the iPhone came out, allow me to supplement that column with some answers.

* What’s the name Pre supposed to mean?
–Palm mumbles something about the phone being so smart, it seems to know what you want before you tell it. The real answer, I suspect, is something like, “There are very few words left that aren’t already trademarked”!

* How’s the speaker?
–Very weak. Music is fine if you’re sitting right next to the phone (although tinny), but speakerphone is hardly worth it; you’d have a hard time hearing if you’re ambling around the kitchen.

* How’s the screen?
–Outstanding. Very bright, very clear, gorgeous, readable fonts. I had no trouble even in direct sunlight.

* Can you be on a phone call and online simultaneously?
–No, unless you’re in a Wi-Fi hot spot.

* Can it play Flash videos?
–Not at the moment. However, Adobe has said that it’s working on Flash for the Pre, so it’s coming soon.

* How much is an extra battery?
–It’s $50.

* Can the Pre suck up my Palm OS data, like the contacts and memos I have on my elderly Palm Tungsten E2?
–Yes, the Pre comes with a program called Palm Data Transfer Assistant. It performs a one-time, one-way transfer of your data (contacts, calendar events, tasks and memos) from Microsoft Outlook, Palm Desktop, or (on the Mac) iCal and Address Book.

* I have all these great old Palm apps! Do I have to give them up?
–No. For $20, you can buy (from the app store) a Classic app that runs all the old Palm OS software! It’s pretty amazing to see that old bitmapped software running on this futuristic machine.

* Does it work overseas?
–This Pre is a CDMA phone, so it doesn’t work in any of the 200 countries that use the GSM network (like Europe). So the bottom line is: it’s pretty much the U.S. only. (There’s a small handful of other CDMA countries.)

However, if Palm’s history with its Treo phones is any indication, GSM versions of the Pre will be coming soon. Indeed, the Pre is only the first of many phones that run the new Web OS.

* Does it have speed dial?
–Yes, fantastic… you can use any letter key for any contact. For example, hold down the M key to dial Mom.

* Can you make your own ringtones?
–Yes. Any MP3 file can be a ringtone.

* How Mac-compatible is the Pre?
–Very. It syncs music, photos and videos with your existing iTunes program (Mac or Windows). It syncs e-mail, calendar, address book and to-do lists with Google, which isn’t platform-specific. It shows up on the Mac desktop as a hard drive, so you can drag-and-drop files onto it (Word, Excel, PDF, music, photos, video and so on).

* Does the Pre’s calendar sync with iCal on the Mac?
– I don’t know of a direct way, but you can sync iCal with Google Calendar, using a program called BusySync (www.busysync.com). And the Pre syncs with Google Calendar! Works great.

* Do all apps rotate on the screen when you turn the phone 90 degrees?
–No, I’m pretty sure it’s only the Web browser, photo and e-mail programs. As on the iPhone, videos always play in landscape mode.

* Is there a family plan?
–Yes. And it’s MUCH cheaper than AT&T (or Verizon, for that matter). For example, Sprint’s unlimited voice-and-data family plan is $190 a month. AT&T and Verizon charge $270 a month for the same thing. Over the two-year contract, Sprint will save you an insane $1,910!

* How’s the Internet speed?
– Sprint’s 3G Internet data network is really great. It’s snappy (several reviewers have measured it against the iPhone and found it to be faster) and has excellent coverage.

* Is there a self-portrait mirror?
–Yes. When you slide open the keyboard, you reveal a formerly hidden panel where Palm cleverly installed a mirror, just above the camera lens.

If you have more questions (that aren’t easily discovered by a quick Google search), let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them!

1 comment:

Randall Stross said...

That's a very good looking smartphone. Thanks.