Archive for May, 2009

Palm Pre arrives in Canada for surprise visit

May 7, 2009

BUT YOU WILL HAVE TO WAIT FOR BELL’S NEWEST PHONE

Toronto media got a short-notice invite Wednesday morning for a same-day sneak-peak of the new Palm Pre smartphone, available at Bell in the second half of this year. Reporters could not take pictures but they could see the phone.

A touch of drama for a phone that won’t be in Canada for months and that we all knew about at CTIA Las Vegas earlier this year.

You will have time to think about your next cellphone upgrade, Bell hopes. Should you wait? Before I get into some details about the Pre phone, here is the skinny:

Unless you don’t like everything that the hottest last-quarter top-selling PDA does, the BlackBerry Curve (yes, it outsold the iPhone in the U.S.) or the cool design functionality of the Samsung Omnia or you crave for the seamless multimedia, 35,000 (and counting) cool apps and best Internet experience of the iPhone, don’t bother waiting.

But if you want to manage your wireless life in different ways, Palm’s way, read on.

The Palm Pre is unique in many ways. You can read and see all the details on www.palm.com but briefly, it is a smart-looking PDA with curved sides, even front panel, designed with its own new WebOS platform, does deep multi-tasking and unobtrusive notifying, turns the large screen backlight off when outside for longer battery life and has a large touch screen but no touch keyboard opting for a real slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It’s loaded with 8 GB internal memory, all the goodies like 3 megapixel camera, Wifi, Bluetooth and GPS. Much thought seems to have gone into the Palm Pre from a diversified Palm engineering and design team.

As an option, it has an inductive power charger (a bit slower than a wall plug kind). You can set up HTML or pop email accounts. Palm does not have its own server, like RIM, so unless you get the Pre connected through work with email servers to do the pushing, consumer email accounts will not respond as fast as a BlackBerry phone.  

 Still, there are smart connections with social networking sites on the go, like Facebook, with automatic updates of other Facebook users on your Palm Pre device, when they change their contact information. You can organize and have faster access to both your business and personal contacts. Cool.

“The Palm Pre allows you to keep many applications and Internet sections open at once and move them around the screen with the touch of a finger, even moving them aside so the content isn’t lost,” said Bell Canada spokesperson Julie Smithers.

Palm is pushing the phone’s new WebOS platform claiming it is ready for prime-time application web development with new apps (no business model announced yet) that will be easier to develop than  competitors and the ability to run older Palm software in emulation, in native speed.

Where does the Palm Pre fit for you? It is a new offering, a fresh start from Palm who has managed to outlive its critics. Will it manage to carve itself a niche for customers who don’t care for BlackBerry, iPhone or Windows Mobility phones?

Matt Crowley Palm Product Line Manager in California, was straight forward:

“We are not competing with the multimedia aspect of the iPhone or the full business focus of the BlackBerry. It’s a consumer experience that is not a corporate environment and not 100 per cent competing in the multimedia crazy space of iTunes.”

At first glance from a distance,  I think the Palm Pre is a cool-looking PDA, smart in organizing your information, with a bit of iPhone and BlackBerry envy.

Bell is obviously excited about this phone. “We normally don’t pre-announce a device but we only do so when it’s unique,” said Smithers, adding Bell is the second carrier in the world to announce the Palm Pre offering, one more notch to its already largest Palm line-up in Canada.

 So with that, I will have to wait for a first-person experience for this “I’m no iPhone or BlackBerry” device for a final opinion.