Palm Pre review

Palm's Pre is good but not great

Palm\’s Pre is good but not great

Palm’s long-awaited ‘iPhone killer’ has finally hit Irish shores and while it is a likeable phone in many ways it fails to pack a punch that would threaten Apple or Nokia. Palm was once the king of the personal digital assistant (PDA) but unfortunately for the company by the time such a device became popular the likes of the Blackberry had taken over. Since then Palm has ticked along quietly in the background and skirted death once or twice for good measure – at least until Bono’s Elevation Partners invested $325m in the company for a 25% stake in 2007, two years before the Palm Pre was unveiled. It would not be fair to say that the Pre is an iPhone clone, or indeed a clone of a clone. The phone does house a glossy touchscreen but beyond that it tries hard to blaze its own trail. The most notable thing that makes the Pre different is its slide-out QWERTY keyboard – something that adds slightly to the device’s dimensions but not significantly. The keyboard is sure to be a welcome reprieve from those who cannot abide touchscreen typing however it does take a bit of getting used to as the keys are so small – that said there are far worse out there in the smartphone market. On the software-side the Pre runs the new webOS operating system, which uses an attractive ‘cards’ system to let users run and switch between multiple applications easily. As part of this it utilises gestures quite a lot and thankfully does a good enough job as not to make them feel ‘gimmicky’. As nice as the Palm operating system is, however, it is arguably the route of the phone’s main problem. Apple has yet to allow multi-tasking on the iPhone and going by the Pre’s often slow performance you can see why. When attempting to open even a basic application like the phone’s clock there is a noticeable lag between selecting the icon and it opening fully – even when there is nothing else running in the background. Not only does this happen when opening programmes but also when running them, for example switching between days in the calendar often takes longer than it really should. It can only be assumed that the operating system itself is sucking a lot of the phone’s power away to other tasks but regardless of the reason it is disappointing. The simple fact that the phone seems to struggle with basic application processes takes away significantly from the whole experience and leaves you feeling very underwhelmed. Once you start including applications and power-hungry processes like games this kind of problem can only get worse and it is hard to see how it would be fixed by anything other than a total hardware revision. Overall the Pre is a nice phone with a few eccentricities; the speed issue is critical, however. The company has shown it can do something different and make a good job of it – unfortunately in this case it just does not feel like it is good enough. __________ Buy the Palm Pre from



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