The guys at Precentral have put up some good thoughts and reflections regarding the first six months of Palm’s new webOS and phones. The Pre and the Pixi both now live in the Monaghan household and Kasey has become a fan of the latter. I, for one, am pulling for Palm to take the webOS into cool lands in the months ahead and thankful to be an early adopter of the Pre.
In my opinion the user interface and experience is such a win for Palm. The core apps and the apps that stick to basic webOS UI conventions are absolutely beautiful. The deck of cards metaphor for app switching and multi-tasking simply has no comparison in the smartphone world. Each time I play with another phone I am shocked at home simple and elegant Palm’s solution really is. The beta app catalog is expanding and I have found plenty of useful apps. It is only going to get better. I think Palm needs to put the graphics chips in play and allow some more direct hardware calls; overall the strategy to use a browser as the presentation layer is cool. One drawback is some amazingly ugly user interfaces some people have put on their apps. Just because you can use any HTML/CSS as the interface does not make non standard user interface buttons and elements a win. Design apps that look like webOS apps people - your creativity sometimes turns out ugly.
Overall, I am a huge fan of my little Palm Pre. The camera is excellent, the processor speedy, WiFi and 3G all work seamlessly. However, the Pre feels like a less than serious piece of hardware. The choice of materials and build quality really shows when compared with iPhone and the new Motorola Droid. I like the slider well enough and I absolutely love having a physical keyboard. I have used all the virtual ones and I find real typing much more preferable. Palm needs to follow up with a rock solid built phone on the high end that feels less like a toy.
Though it lacks WiFi, has a bit slower processor and smaller screen than its big brother, the Pixi is a fantastic little phone. The design feels much sturdier than the Pre and it is so freakin small. It is so thin and tiny that my wife is now using a dedicated phone sleeve in her purse to keep track of it. The keyboard on the Pixi is fantastic; I like it better than Pre. It is small but the buttons are really clicky and give a super solid feel. The Pixi is a little slower but overall the webOS experience is great on this little phone. To be honest, if they can make a phone as thin Pixi, with a slightly larger screen, wifi and a bigger processor…I’m in. The candy bar styling of Pixi is a win.
To be honest, Palm’s marketing for the Pre was pretty lame. The crazy children of the corn looking chic looks so silly compared to the Droid’s rabid robot advertising. Palm obviously has tried to expand their smartphone reach to the ladies and the young peeps (with Pixi ad) but they lost a ton of cred in my opinion with and this…note to Palm - in future ads and marketing, don’t chit chat about reincarnation and talk about THE PHONE!
I’m looking forward to seeing the webOS and the phones from Palm thrive in the future; I think they executed just enough to stay afloat for another act or two…but they better build some good hardware, optimize webOS for speed and get on multiple US carriers. So overall, I am hopeful but not triumphant about Palm’s effort. May the best days be before them.