Respected tech critics from The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal offered early opinions on the Palm Pre
The Palm Pre is coming and, so far, the early reviews seem to show that Palm has got a winner of a smartphone to offer customers.
The New York Times’ David Pogue and The Wall Street Journal’s Walter S. Mossberg, venerable tech reviewers both, have each spent time with the Palm Pre and weighed in with their opinions. Both journalists offered early reviews of the Palm Pre in the 4 June editions of their respected publications.
Both reviews, however, were actually pretty similar.
The Pre, despite a few issues, is great, both Pogue and Mossberg agreed. And while comparisons to the Apple iPhone were natural, both pointed out that such comparisons could soon be moot, given that in the next few days Apple is likely to reveal the who-knows-what it has hiding up its sleeve.
Both reviews were filled with compliments and tempting details. Pogue wrote that the Pre is “an elegant, joyous, multitouch smartphone; it’s the iPhone remixed.”
Pogue called the combination of Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G, Bluetooth, touchscreen and other features a difficult thing to make feel unified, but that, “overall, Palm nailed it.”
And commenting on the Pre’s hardware, Pogue wrote, “When it’s turned off, the screen disappears completely into the smoky finish, leaving a stunning, featureless talisman. It’s exactly the right size.”
Mossberg, too, applauded the Pre’s looks. “Many other iPhone wannabes have physical keyboards, including the G1. But none combine that keyboard with the stylish software of the Pre and its beautiful industrial design, which makes the new Palm feel great in the hand,” he wrote.
Both men liked the Pre multitouch user interface, which uses a card metaphor. A card can be an application or an individual e-mail, and users can swipe and flick through the deck. Both also liked that, unlike the current iPhone, the Pre can run multiple applications at once.
Also praised is a feature called Synergy, which merges contacts from various sources, as well as calendar information. A wireless service will also automatically back up data on a remote server, for recovery if needed. (Mossberg wound up needing it.)
Pricing on the Sprint network is another plus. Unlike AT&T, Sprint includes texting in its monthly fee.
The Pre does, however, have its flaws.
The application situation, the critics agreed, is one of them. App Catalogue, the Pre’s app store, has only a few handfuls of apps.
“It’s immature, it’s labeled a beta and Palm has yet to release the tools for making Pre apps available to more than a small group of developers,” wrote Mossberg.
Pogue called battery life “the Pre’s heartbreaker,” saying it died by dinnertime if not late afternoon. He conceded that poor Sprint reception near his home could be partly to blame, since “hunting for a signal eats up power fast.” But Mossberg, too, said that one day his Pre was out of juice by mid-afternoon.
Another downside is the lack of a memory-card slot to expand the Pre’s 8GB of storage.
Also, Pogue found the keyboard keys “Thumbelina-size” and Mossberg said they were hard to press unseen.
While the Pre will debut on the Sprint network, Verizon says it will also offer it within the next six months. “Can you imagine how great that will be? One of the world’s best phones on the nation’s best cell network?” enthused Pogue.
Mossberg was a bit more reserved, but still positive, writing: “It is thoughtfully designed, works well and could give the iPhone and BlackBerry strong competition — but only if it fixes its app store and can attract third-party developers.”
Sold on the Pre’s allure? Pogue also offered this excellent tidbit about the Pre’s $200 price after rebate: “If you buy it from Best Buy instead of a Sprint store, you get the rebate instantly, without having to mail anything”