Palm Pre

GCN LAB REVIEW

Palm Pre Plus has the tools but can be a drain

Short battery life and tendency to overheat overshadow Pre's innovative interface

Performance: B+
Features: A
Ease of Use: A
Price: B
Pros: Innovative interface; great for Web surfing or running multiple apps.
Cons: Poor battery life; some overheating problems.

Before Apple smashed into the mobile space with the iPhone, it all pretty much belonged to Palm and Research in Motion. Every year, Palm seemed to mirror the latest BlackBerry phone, except Palm’s would have a stylus, touch screen and color operating system. If the recent release of the new Blackberry Torch is an indicator of anything, it’s that the tables have turned, and the BlackBerry is trying to mirror the Palm Pre.

More smart phone reviews

Read the GCN Lab's reviews of the iPhone 4, the Blackberry Bold, Sprint HTC Evo and the Samsung Captivate.

The Pre is a sleek flip phone that conceals an easy-to-use QWERTY keyboard and runs on the intuitive webOS, which in some ways is better to use than the iPhone’s operating system. Like the iPhone, Palm’s webOS lets users navigate from screen to screen by scrolling left or right with your finger. Unlike the iPhone, webOS also gives users the ability to close an application by flicking your finger in an upward motion. It sounds small in detail, but that feature makes it a lot easier to control and organize multiple apps that are open at the same time. Another Pre feature that iPhone lacks is the ability to tap the screen to minimize an open application. This adds worlds of depth in navigating the operating system while multitasking.

Despite the great features behind the Palm webOS, two big issues kept the Pre from deserving the Reviewer’s Choice designation. The battery life for the Pre is disappointing. It seemed to sometimes require two charges per day, especially if you switch from 3G to Wi-Fi. You can wirelessly charge your Pre to a dock, which I found temperamental and not worth it. I would often leave the Pre properly attached to the wireless charger, only to come back and notice that some minor shift in the device caused it to not charge at all.

The second, more serious problem that I had with the Pre was its tendency to overheat. I definitely recommend a headset for making phone calls, because after more than 30 minutes of use, the phone will melt your ear. And after prolonged Web surfing, the Pre needed time to cool down before switching to another operation.

Priced at $599, the Pre is one of the most expensive mobile devices in the roundup. However, Verizon offers the device at $49.99 with a two-year contract, which is well worth the money.

Palm, www.palm.com

About the Author

Carlos A. Soto is a former GCN Lab technology analyst.

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