Friday Jan 23, 2009

The Smart Phone Choice Just Got Tougher - Palm Pre

I saw something today that actually forced me to start blogging again.  It's not that I dislike blogging.  Mostly I don't have the time.  It seems like a luxury if its not a core part of your job.

So what brought me to blog.  I saw the press release screencast of the new Palm Pre at  CES.  Wow! I'm kind of shopping for a new smart phone.  Now my decision is much tougher.

So let me provide some context.  I've been carrying a Palm Treo 650 in my pocket for about 3.5 years now.  It mostly does what I need.  It has web browsing, email, all the PDA functions I've grown to love.  The web access is over WAP so things are very slow if you don't hit a WAP-friendly site.  I've been using PalmOS for as long as I can remember.  Remember the Palm V that made it's debute at JavaOne?  I had one of those.  I remember that conference everyone was walking into eachother and walls because they were staring down at their Palm.  So I'm pretty much a Palm-PalmOS guy.  Forget the Palm with Windows Mobile.  What possesed Palm?  Probably survival.

I've been lusting over the iPhone like everyone else.  I must admit things like no qwerty keyboard and no copy/paste kinda scare me.  But I was very ready to make the move.  Then I saw the AT&T plan rates, $30 for data and $30 for unlimited text messaging.  Yikes!  So on top of my base plan fee I have to add $60.  You see I have four kids who text me all the time and as you know you can't stop incoming text messages.  This is a mobile phone company conspiracy because they know that 98% of their revenue comes from teens texting (I'm making that up of course so don't use this for wikipedia).  So this stalled my compulsive urges to go with the iPhone.

Hey what about an Android phone?  Yeah!  The T-Mobile G1.  It comes with a touch screen AND a qwerty keyboard.  It's built on a much more open platform, Android, than the iPhone.  So I talked with my local T-Mobile store dude and he tells me to wait for a G2.  I asked when that's coming out.  He said the rumor was March but he doesn't have any real facts.  He said it's supposed to be way better and they got rid of the qwerty keyboard.  What?!  That's the one feature I really want.  Well so the G1's looking pretty good.  Then I look into T-Mobile's 3G network.  Or should I say the lack of it?  There's not even 3G coverage in the college town I live in.  Bummer!  So what's the point of having a 3G phone if I have to use EDGE or WAP to hit the internet.  I even thought about getting an unlocked iPhone and sticking with T-Mobile, my current carrier.  Then the T-Mobile store dude tells me that his unlocked iPhone doesn't work on the T-Mobile 3G network.  Huh?  Yep.  You can read all about what 3G really means for yourself on Wikipedia.

Then there's the Palm Pre.  I had to wipe the drool form the corner of my mouth as I watched the screencast because my brain was so intrigued with what I saw that it forgot to tell my mouth to swallow.  It has a touch screen AND a qwerty keyboard.  They kept the great Palm buttons like external volume controls, ringer off button, external speaker, and a new 3.0 MP camera with a flash.  The user interface is amazing.  The touch interface alone makes me want to get one to play with.  When you touch the screen, there's a mark on the screen where your finger is.  It also has this really cool feature called Synergy that does an incredible job at pulling your entire life together for the exact context you are currently in.  And the charger is over the top.  It's called the touchstone and there are no connections.  You get wireless charging through "inductive technology".  Now that's cool!   Here's the rain on my parade.  Palm has chosen Sprint to be the exclusive service provider.  I don't have anything against Sprint.  But if you travel outside the Americas, which I sometimes do, you can forget using your Sprint phone.  I experienced a similar pain when I went to Tokyo last year with my Palm Treo T-Mobile GSM phone.  I basically turned it off and put it away most of the time except for a few times I needed the PDA functions.  The Palm Pre is very "Sexy" though.  It might cause me to forget about GSM.  I really have to hand it to Palm.  I thought they were dead and now it looks like a great comeback move with the Pre.

In the end, maybe I'll stick with my Treo 650 for a while. :)


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David Botterill

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