POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

web OS 1.4 - Video and Flash Ready

Users of the Palm Pre and Pixi (not yet the Plus versions on the big red V) rejoice this morning! WebOS 1.4 just dropped adding some new newness to our phones.  Video and the coming of Adobe Flash the most important but lots of great tweaks as well. I’m downloading now. 

Precentral.net has lots of good info about the release and the following video shows off the new video cam feature.  Holla at your Pre this morning if you have not done so.

PS - we know the iPhone is great, Google rules the universe, yada yada…smart phone peeps take some biblical advice “rejoice with those who rejoice” - Smile

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After Palm’s creepy children of the corn girl and then Verizon’s phone for Mom ads one began to wonder if someone…Spring, Palm, Verizon…would would ever actually advertise the actual coolness of the Palm Pre and webOS. Well, the first ad really giving props to the sweetness of webOS is out.

Newest ad for Verizon’s Palm Pre Plus - finally…check out those notifications, effortless app switch and multitasking, gorgeous design of the Pre.  And if you are using Verizon…check out that mobile hotspot and that AT&T enraging network map.

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Some Good Reflections about Palm and webOS...

Image from PreCentral.com

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. 

Here are a few of my thoughts on webOS, the Pre, the new Pixi and Palm’s overall execution…


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.

Palm Pre

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.

Palm Pixi

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.

Palm’s Execution

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 creepy stuff like this 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.

Bell Canada - For the win...

Americans have a hard time admitting that Canada has something up on our country other than geographical location on the earth.  But it seems clear to me that Bell Canada has a bit more saavy when it comes to adveristing a PHONE. In the US, the Palm Pre has been pitched with this crazy looking girl saying all sorts of strange things looking like she needs to go ahead and walk into the light. Bell Canada had a crazy idea - go show off the PHONE to real people. Hmm…maybe people intersted in getting a new phone would benefit from knowing just what it does. Nice facebook usage as well…

If you didn’t believe me about the Palm Pre US commercials…check this one out. Wow, I’m just not so inspired…

By the way, the reason nobody has any memory of their last life is that they didn’t have one. Simple…and it has nothing to do with a Palm Pre. Which is quite a nice phone by the way.

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Fair comparison...

Here is how to be dorky, have fun, compare two technologies without becoming a weird zealot.  Not sure who these two dudes are, but they do a fair job discussing the Palm Pre and the Apple phone…

Pre and iPhone 3G - Side by Side Use

A good comparison between basic use and navigation of Palm Pre and iPhone 3G. It looks like this guy is an iPhone guy and just got a Pre. I have used both and this is a very good comparison of basic use. No, I know the Pre is not better than iPhone - that would be considered blasphemous so save the hate.

One thing I would add to this demo is the guy did not need to close his cards when going back and forth from browser and contacts.  You can keep them both open and instantly flick back and forth.  I will admit that closing apps is so fun that I do what this guy does - I close stuff down all the time when I probably do not need to. Yet when you get tons of apps running performance does slow a bit so closing apps isn’t a negative or anything :)

Also, he had his iPhone browser cached so the web browser came right up with page already loaded. Anyway, kudos to the author of the video - he does a good job.

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Palm Pre - First Impressions...

OK, this is not going to be a full on tech review - others more qualified and with more time have done that elsewhere (see entry here).  Yet I wanted to drop my impressions here briefly after having the Palm Pre for two days. Mind you, I am a pastor so Saturday and Sunday did not afford as much time to play with technology but I have put it through its paces a bit.

Before I begin though, these links are some response in the press to the Pre and its launch:

First Impressions

When I first grabbed the device in person on Saturday morning (yes, I am one of the nerds who waited in line) I was amazed at how small it really is.  It resembles a smooth river stone and fits nicely in the palm of your hand.  The screen is 3.1 inches and seems roomy as you never have the screen real estate used up by a virtual keyboard.  It feels sturdy in the hand and has a glossy finish.  If you pay the ridiculous high price for the touchstone charger (I must admit I did) the back panel is replaced with a really nice matte finished piece that grips nicely.  To say the least it is attractive in person and I recommend those considering the phone to go by a store to see the demo.


The build quality is good and it does not feel like a cheap phone in the hand.  There are dedicated volume button on one side and ringer/vibrate and on/off button on the top right.  These are perfectly located for use with the index finger when holding the Pre diagonally in the left hand.  The entire front looks like one black panel with a small pearl like button on the bottom. When the screen comes on it really pops and is as vibrant and clear as anything I have seen.  In the past I have not been a big fan of slider phones, but the Pre has changed my mind here. The slider is quick and sturdy and makes the phone a nice curved shape that is nice when talking.

The keyboard has been a feature of some discussion as to whether it is too small, cramped etc. Let me preface my remarks in saying that I am switching from a Palm Centro that has an even smaller keyboard. So far I have had zero problems with the keyboard and it works really well. It is a big thin as it lives on the bottom of the slider, but I am adjusting to that fine.  I have typed on virtual keyboards and I found no love for those - having the keyboard hidden away keeps all your screen available and it is accessible when needed.

The touchstone charger is just cool and works as advertised.  It does cost too much but I had a 25% off discount as a long term SPRINT customer that at least brought the price down a bit. The phone just sits perched upon the angled hockey-puck like touchstone and charges inductively through the special back panel.  Did I say this is just cool?


OK, here is where I am going to make iPhone fan boys angry.  I find there is no comparison between webOS and iphoneOSX.  I have nothing but superlative praise for the thoughtful design that went into this UI.  The multitasking card metaphor just works fantastically and the handling of notifications (alarms, emails, texts, music playing, GPS nav running) is simply brilliant. The experience is way better than I anticipated.  I will say that you do have to learn all the gestures and unlearn certain ways of doing things.  If you are convince that you always have to “go to a home icon screen” to move around and switch applications you will waste time on the Pre.  You can leave apps running, switch quickly with flicks and swipes, use quick launch, universal search etc.  It is better on Pre but I have found myself going to the launcher when I don’t need to.  Here is an example.  If I want to Google search something on some phones, I would go to Home, launch Google and search.  On Pre I just start typing search terms from anywhere and then click Google.  Fast, simple - but something I need to learn to do more intuitively rather than always launching the browser.

The contacts, calendar and email apps are all great and they really “just work” in pulling in information from various sources on the web (Gmail, Facebook, etc).  When the Sprint guy asked me “do you want to transfer your old contacts to the phone” - I said naw, I’ll just sync it with my Gmail contacts.  Done. The web browser is fast works well on both WiFi and EVDO Rev A.  I downloaded Tweed a twitter app from the beta App Catalog and it is awesome.  The apps are thin now but I sense the developer world will show up more and more in the coming days.  PC Mag plays with the apps here.

GPS nav from Sprint is robust and supports turn by turn voice directions as well as the animated interface.  I will say that GPS drains the battery pretty quickly but this is the case with most phones. One last thing, the iTunes integration works great.  I dropped about 2GB of music over to the Pre and it plays fantastically on the Pre’s media player.

Not Perfect

The only concerns I have are battery life as if you are constantly surfing, emailing and enjoying the data connection the 1150mA battery can get chewed up.  Yet because this is not Apple, you can have a spare battery - this is your choice and choice is good. I have heard that SEIDO’s 1350mA battery for Centro/800w will work but I have not ordered one yet.  Will look for others review of doing this…

Also, the apps do have to load on the Pre as it is a smartphone and there is a tiny pause when loading applications.  The response is instant though when you switch to an app that is already running. Multi-tasking is good friends and the Pre’s UI makes it much easier than other phones.

One final hardware issue that I will complain about.  The center button on the front should also be able to turn on the device. I want to do this ALL the time.  The button’s main use is to bring up card-view for switching programs and it is effective in that role, but it should turn the phone on.


All in all, I have enjoyed my first two days with Palm Pre.  The team at Palm did a fantastic job with aesthetics, user interface design and did all the small things right. As a Palm user since 1996 I was stoked when Pre was announced and even more stoked to purchase the phone (saved my pennies from Jan-June :) I am also a SPRINT customer who has had zero complaints about the network and find its data connections robust and speedy.  The customer service issues from a few years ago are also better (it was bad) and we are glad to continue with the company.

For those of you who are not religiously affiliated with Apple, Inc. the Palm Pre is a great smartphone and from the initial response it seems it has a bright future.  As to whether or not it is better than iPhone, I will not say. I will say that I do not want an iPhone and after using my Pre I see no reason why I would.  It just would be a clunky and disappointing user experience for me.

For all those out there who incorporate data from multiple sources, need to work on the go, want a device that merges personal/business functions (small biz owners, church planters :) I can think of no better device than the new Palm Pre. 


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The Gathering/Convergence/New Age is near

In a few hours, Mapple fans throughout the universe will unite publicly at the pilgrimage known as WWDC.  At 10am PST, those in the temple will hush into a silence and Mapple computer screens (and some PC screens - gasp!) will tune in to see what the priests have to give.  Cheaper iPhones, more flash memory, 3.0 software (that will underwhelm Pre owners) and leopards that dash about in the snow! Will Steve step out from the shadows…oh, if Steve steps out on the balcony to wave we know the spirit of the age of Aquarius might be born anew. Gizmodo and Engadget will be blogging…many will stream video.

The true believers will party, begin to smugly mock RIM and PALM and WINDOWS and generally feel good about the world again.  After all, the webOS is better than current iPhone offerings - and this is just an unbearable, impossible situation that the high priests of “i” will certainly rectify today. Right?


Lots of Pre-press coming in on the net…here are just a few compiled courtesy of boing boing…Also, Palminfocenter has their full review up as does Engadget.

Oh yeah, the ad went out on Facebook last night…not sure I like the ad - maybe there is a dude version coming. Engadget had this to say about the ad “an impassioned plea that approaches gently upon the pads of kittens, gazes in your direction, and then walks away. If we didn’t know better, we’d guess that Pre was a new brand of feminine deodorant…it made poppies seem bruttish…” You decide:

Here are the thoughts/links from the early reviews:

David Pogue, leaked by the Financial Chronicle, at The New York Times:

So do the Pre’s perks (beautiful hardware and software, compact size, keyboard, swappable battery, flash, multitasking, calendar consolidation) outweigh its weak spots (battery life, slow program opening, ringer volume, Sprint network)? Oh, yes indeedy. Especially when you consider that last weak spot might be going away. Verizon Wireless has announced that it will carry the Pre ”in the next six months or so.”

Steven Levy, at Wired:

It’s a huge win … The Pre emphatically shows that Palm has not reached the stage of suffixes. And multitasking rules!

Walt Mossberg, at the Wall Street Journal:

The Pre is a smart, sophisticated product that will have particular appeal for those who want a physical keyboard. 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.

Joshua Topolsky, at Engadget:

To put it simply, the Pre is a great phone, and we don’t feel any hesitation saying that. Is it a perfect phone? Hell no. Does its OS need work? Definitely. But are any of the detracting factors here big enough to not recommend it? Absolutely not. There’s no doubt that there’s room for improvement in webOS and its devices, but there’s also an astounding amount of things that Palm nails out of the gate.

Jason Chen, at Gizmodo:

The software is agile, smart and capable. The hardware, on the other hand, is a liability. If Palm can get someone else to design and build their hardware—someone who has hands and can feel what a phone is like when physically used, that phone might just be one of the best phones on the market.

Mark Spoonauer, at Laptop Mag:

We’ve seen many smart phones come and go since the original iPhone, and the $199 Palm Pre is the first device we’ve tested whose user interface not only matches up well to Apple’s offering, but also beats it in some areas. … Palm and Sprint have a hit on their hands with the Pre, and the webOS is a smart phone platform to be reckoned with.

Boy Genius Report:

The OS is great. There’s no ifs ands or buts; it’s really refreshing to see something that’s brand new with a UI unlike anything else out there. The only problem with this is, Palm’s never been a hardware company that anyone’s really cared about. … Couple that with the nation’s underdog carrier at a $299 price-point (before rebate), and we’re not sure how many people are going to be lined up overnight, yet we’re pretty confident once people are able to play a real unit themselves, there will be more than a lot of happy Palm Pre customers.

Bonnie Cha, at CNET:

Despite some missing features and performance issues that make it less than ideal for on-the-go professionals, the Palm Pre offers gadget lovers and consumers well-integrated features and unparalled multitasking capabilities. The hardware could be better, but more importantly, Palm has developed a solid OS that not only rivals the competition but also sets a new standard in the way smartphones handle tasks and manage information.

Ginny Miles, at PC World:

The long-awaited Palm Pre lives up to the hype with a responsive touchscreen and an engaging interface, but a few hardware design flaws keep it from being the perfect smartphone.

Stephen Wildstrom, at at BusinessWeek:

If the Palm Pre had appeared a year ago, it might have turned the smartphone market upside down. It would have beaten out Apple’s iPhone 3G and the iTunes App Store, Google’s Android, the BlackBerry Bold and Storm as well as BlackBerry App World, and possibly taken the spoils. But the field has grown so crowded with clever entries in the past 12 months that the Pre, ingenious as it is, seems evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

Sinead Carew, at Reuters:

The long-awaited Pre has nice new touches, but Palm Inc has a lot of work to do if the device is to be a serious competitor to the iPhone.

Om Malik:

…it is a pretty good-looking device, but it feels a little plasticky and is lower in build quality than a BlackBerry. It is squat, has a nice screen, and is easy to grip. It is round in the right places. However, the slide-out keyboard seems flimsy and cluttered.

Peter Svensson, at the Associated Press:

Move over, iPhone. You’ve had two years on top of the smart phone world. Now there’s a touch-screen phone with better software: the Palm Pre. In a remarkable achievement, Palm Inc., a company that was something of a has-been, has come up with a phone operating system that is more powerful, elegant and user-friendly.

Ed Baig, at USA Today:

The first Palm Pre will certainly give the iPhone and other rivals a run for their money. To be sure, there are areas where it could improve: Bring on the apps. But Palm has delivered a device that will keep it in the game and give it a chance to star in it.


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Palm Pre - phone for the resistance...

Everyone knows that the Apple iPhone is a cool product.  Its keyboard really sucks, but the product is an amazing piece of technology. Yet for those who are not fanboys of the throng led by Steve Jobs the cool phone pickins have been pretty slim.

You could get a Windows Mobile phone and be stuck with a slightly worse than crappy user interface and a kludgy experience (apologies to my friends at Microsoft - I am a PC apologist, but the WinMo space stinketh).  You could get a Crackberry and be happy enough…but the cool factor is lower and the Storm was well, underwhelming.  Finally, if your were a Tmobile person you could get the Google phone (G1) and use it for about 47 minutes a day before recharging.  Plus, I can just see how Google will be slappin ads everyone on your phone at some point in time.

So, what was a gadget loving guy to do if he did not want AT&T and to fully embrace the Apple. Well, before now, he would just be a bit sad.  No longer my friends - there is now choice coming.  This Saturday the much awaited Palm Pre and its webOS newness arrives (although perhaps in low quantities) to Sprint stores, some Best Buys and Radioshacks.

As a current Sprint customer, I will be picking one up in the morning if a kind providence affords the opportunity. I have saved my pennies and resisted the iPhone man - looking forward to playing with my new little friend.  Pray that no idolatry creeps into the soul.


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The Pre at D

Here is a short highlight video of the interview with the Palm guys about the Pre which took place at D7 today.  Enjoy:

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