Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pre Review -- Part 1. Pros (Fourteen Fine Features)

What are the features that make the Pre better than anything I've used before? Or the things that it does better? These are the Pre Pros:

1. Multitasking. Something we take for granted on our computers, but have assumed wasn't possible or needed on our smartphones. But when you have it, you never want to give it up again! On an iPhone I'd wear out the home button switching from app to app, and on my Treo, the menu and function keys took a beating. And it was oh, so frustrating to be looking a a Web page or a calendar item or talking on the phone and wanting to switch and do something else only to be limited in the possiblilities. I've already become so used to it that I can't go back. There is also an underreported "advanced gesture" feature that you can turn on which allow switching tasks with a left-to-right or right-to-left swipe across the entire gesture area with apps fully open. You don't have to tap the home button first or have the cards in reduced size. I typically have 3 or mre cards open at a time and swipe from card to card without ever returning to the home screen.

2. An outstandingly clear and beautiful screen. Bright, readable, useful. Which makes e-mail and browsing practical.

3. Complete HTML e-mail with reasonable speed and readability. The Treo was never quite up to snuff on e-mail. Clearly Blackberries and the iPhone have had this down for a while, but now my Pre has become my first line of e-mail reading ahead of my desktop machine.

4. A Web browser that is quick enough and usable with the multitouch screen. Again, browsing was possible on the Treo, but not for long or frequently when side scrolling was needed and rendering was sometimes incomplete. In my tests against the iPhone 3GS, the Pre matched it most of the time and exceeded it some of the time. Now all we need is a Flash player.

5. The ability to play audio and video podcasts. The ability to sync with iTunes to load the podcasts! In the past, sometimes I'd go thru the trouble of loading or downloading a podcast onto my Treo, but it was hit or miss, and generally not worth the time it took. And video playback and quality was sketchy. Now if there was some kind of wireless podcatcher or sync
for the Pre, the process would be complete.

6. Calendar and Contact Synergy. It is amazing and helpful to have automtic wireless synching with Google, AIM, Facebook, Outlook (although I don't use it all). I can see my son's and wife's Calendar items and don't have to duplicate them in my own -- they just appear! And Contacts update themselves to some extent, if on Facebook.

7. Integrated messaging among IM, GTalk, and SMS. This is handy indeed when contacting my kids, who each use different phone networks and methods. Also, the inclusion of unlimited text messages in the Sprint Pre data plan means I'll use them to contact my kids, which is often their preferred method.

8. App Catalog. The Pre takes a lot of stick for having only 30 apps so far, compared to the iPhone's thousands. But the ability to just wirelessly load a new program is a vast improvement from the sync methods of a Treo. And among the 30, I found a few that are very useful to me: AccuWeather, Pandora, SplashID, and most of all, the Classic (PalmOS emulator). I'm sure there will be more, and it's very handy to get free updates over the air.

9. Classic app!! The ability to emulate PalmOS has been a terrific transition tool, immediately loading all my existing Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Memos in the format I'm used to. The same data was converted / loaded into my new Pre Profile in the native apps, but some features are different. It's comforting to be able to see how things compare right side by side (literally, with multitasking!). And a program like SplashShopper, which I use every week for groceries, can run unchanged, until the Pre version comes along. In effect, there is a whole library of existing apps from PalmOS that can run on the Pre. Arguably, many are more useful than anything on an iPhone.

10. GPS and Sprint Navigation. Using Google Maps with GPS on is much more useful. And the included Sprint Navigation service means you don't need a separate GPS/Nav gadget in your car. Not that I've ever had one, but it sure is handy to use when needed.

11. WiFi. Of course, it's assumed now in all high end smartphones, but the Treo never had it and it sure is handy when cell reception is p0or (like right in front of my computer!). In comparison tests against the iPhone 3GS, the Pre is faster, too. And it's practical to browse the Web or read email at the lunch table or in the living room or on the porcelain throne ;)

12. Automatic backup and updating. It's reassuring to know that everything on the phone is backed up wirelessly every night to Palm Profile servers via the Sprint network. And it's nice that over-the-air updates take place to revise the software/firmware of the phone with regularity. No more downloading and syncing to get patches.

13. 3.2 megapixel camera. When I got the Treo 600, I wondered what I'd do with a camera. But it is surprisingly useful to be able to snap a quick picture. My old Fuji film camera has now been gathering dust for almost 5 years. I never bothered to get a digital camera at all. The improved quality of the Pre is appreciated, too. I miss the video that the Treo 700p had, but not much, as I think I only show about 10 videos in 2-1/2 years. The Pre may get video via software update eventually.

14. And finally, WebOS. The new operating system is a fairly well-though-out set of methods and gestures for managing all the functions and features of the phone. It looks good, it works smoothly, and as Arthur Clarke wrote, "Any sufficiently advanced Technology is indistinguishable from Magic.".

No comments:

Post a Comment