Palm Pre (Sprint) SmartphoneFollow @infoworld
Likewise, the Synergy e-mail app makes checking and searching through multiple e-mail accounts easy. Select a contact, and webOS will autopopulate an e-mail message with that contact's info. Better still, if you have multiple e-mail accounts set up, you can choose which address to send from while within the message.
The Messaging application now combines both SMS and instant messaging under a single umbrella. The conversations are threaded (as they are on current Palm OS-based phones), and they can represent ongoing conversations with one contact, across multiple systems (for example, you can start the conversation via text, and continue in AOL Instant Messenger if your contact goes offline).
The Pre's full HTML Web browser renders pages beautifully. You can have as many browser windows open as you want (you're limited only by the available memory), and you can still save pages for offline viewing (say, while in flight)--a huge boon that Palm OS devices have always had, and that competing devices lack.
In addition to the messaging software, the Pre comes loaded with a few other apps: YouTube, Google Maps, the Amazon MP3 store, a PDF viewer, a document viewer, a calculator, a task list, and a memo board (which looks like a corkboard). You can also access the Palm App Catalog to buy more. Sprint apps, such as Sprint TV and Sprint's NASCAR program, are preinstalled on the phone as well.
Syncing your media with the Pre is a snap. You can load your music via iTunes or do it manually with an easy drag-and-drop. The media player is pretty standard: You can view your music library by artist, album, songs, or genre, see album art, and create playlists. And, of course, you can run the music app in the background.
The Pre supports MP3, AAC, AAC+, WAV, and AMR files. Music through the included earbuds sounded clear with no noise or static, but it lacked bass. Pre users will have access to Amazon's Mobile Music Store, also seen on the Google Android-based T-Mobile G1. The store makes downloading DRM-free tracks directly to the phone simple.
Video quality was also quite good on the Pre's gorgeous display. The Pre has a dedicated video player that supports MPEG-4, H.263, and H.264. The YouTube app, which comes preloaded on the device, delivers video in high-quality H.264 format regardless of whether you're on Wi-Fi or on Sprint's EvDO network.
The camera is adequate, offering 3.0 megapixels and an LED flash, but no zoom (a feature that even some midrange phones carry). Despite its less-than-impressive specs, the Pre's camera took satisfactory pictures. In my snaps, the LED flash did a good job; dimly lit indoor environments had sharp details and fairly accurate color. My outdoor shots looked ever better, with excellent color saturation and little image noise or distortion.
Since the camera lacks a dedicated shutter button, you have to press an on-screen button. Not having a physical shutter can create instability in the camera, thus producing blurry pictures. The best way to prevent that is to shoot with the keyboard out--steadying the phone is easier that way. From the camera's screen, you can access the photo album. Unfortunately, I experienced more sluggishness in the album than I did anywhere else in webOS: Flicking through pictures was slow, and sometimes the screen would freeze between pictures, showing half of one image and half of the next.
The Pre also doesn't have video recording, a capability that the second-generation iPhone also lacks. But since the OS is open source, a video-recording app could be forthcoming.
Hardware flaws aside, the Palm Pre made a solid impression on me. Its eye-catching design and smooth operation make this smartphone the most exciting device I've seen in a while.