You probably saw the brief video review that Shaun did at pda24/7 a week or so ago of this 2004 vintage device and like me thought it looked a bit odd. I bought it from Shaun as it was a device I really wanted to buy at the time but could certainly not have afforded or justified the rather high price. The obvious thing is to compare it to the Treo 600/650 which were out at the same time and if memory serves me correctly, would have been the only other palm smartphone competition at that time…or any time really.
Some things strike me as being obvious, the Qool has a 1.3 megapixel camera which Palm has only recently managed to equal and has no qwerty keypad. Form factor wise, the flip style is nice and it has a very pleasnat almost rubbery matt black back, this makes it feel quite good in the hand and expensive. It also has something that I'd forgotten about which was not an attractive or sensible feature in older phones….the battery is like stuck to the back cover so if it packs up not only do you need a new battery, you also need a new back cover. The flip cover is activated by a nicely weighted button press on the top right of the cover which raises the lid in a precise manner and is indicative of the excellent build quality and quality feel.
The whole thing feels substantial without being too weighty and it's not that much bigger or heavier than a Treo 600 or 650. You get the impression it was marketed as a premium product, it certainly had a premium price which killed it almost from day one. There is a choice of palm launcher, Qool's own one which has an almost Today-like page as an option or the trad palm one. The screen is not as clear as that on todays's Centro's and looks lightly pixelly (240×320) but that would have been the norm back then. It does however cause problems with newer versions of palm software apps which are formulated for newer and better resolutions.
There are things you take for granted now and have almost forgotten about…such as low memory capacity of older palm devices. There is only about 12mb free on this one…yikes but it seems quite zippy. As mentioned before you have to compare it to a 2004 vintage Treo and overall I would say it has some features that are better than Treo and some that are not quite so good…no qwerty keypad being an obvious shortcoming for some. It was odd having to use graffiti and the small on-screen keyboard again. Nonetheless, the bigger screen is quite nice, if only it was as clear and crisp as that on the Centro. The little pointy jog thing in the centre is useable but not as nice to use as the classic treo d-pad, in my view.
Another unpleasant throwback is the odd proprietary charge and sync thing. The charger has a huge long cable and has that old palm thing whereby it sort of splits in two at the end and you then have two plug things, one for charging and one for syncing…yuk. I don't miss that arrangement on any device.
Here's a review from Brighthand from 2005 which sums it up very nicely.