This will come as no surprise to you all. It can only be described not so much as “cracking” but rather completely collapsing once in the o2 store and with a Pre in my hands. Ah well, I think it was fate. The o2 store down at Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh, a rather nice shopping mall that we frequent quite a bit as opposed to heading up town to the increasingly grubby and downmarket Princes Street, had a mini Pre display set up in the corner with two Pre’s out on display in front of a full range of accessories. A bit like a smaller version of their iPhone “table”. When I was in there waiting I saw two people walking out with the Pre and then, when I was being attended to with my purchase, the guy sitting across from me was also getting a Pre. Sadly, there was an obvious trait there…….middle aged sad men. less than hirsute with that slightly desperate geeky look about them…and I include myself in that less than flattering description.
Before, I had been warned about the plasticky feel of the unit and various reviews and comments indicated that build quality would not be up to scratch and as such I was fearing the worst big time. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find otherwise. It feels nice in the hand, smaller than I imagined but with a nice chunky shape, not hugely thick by any means. The slider action is firm and with the slider closed there is a small amount of play in that you can wobble the bottom part slightly but not, in my view, disconcertingly. It snaps shut with a nice thwack. Overall, with what I had heard beforehand I was expecting the worse but the fact it is not nearly as bad as I feared was enough for me to splash the cash.
I also purchased the touchstone charger and a revised back cover which is needed to work with the fancy charger. You’d think they’d bundle the two together but they can be bought seperately. Useful I suppose if you fancy a nice clean new back cover down the line. An advantage of the touchstone set up is that the new cover is much nicer than the stock one, it has that lovely soft touch matter finish which is nice to hold and grippy. Much better than the glossy stock battery cover in my view. The charger is a bit picky though about where you place the Pre when charging. It took me a while to get it actually charging properly, I have it lying horizontally across with the bottom of the Pre sticking over the side more than the top does. Meanly, the charger does not come with a usb cable or charger….it is just the unit so you have to use the cable and wall plug you get in the Pre box. The provided box usb cable does charge over a computer connection though.
A quick word on the keyboard which is obviously going to be an important factor to people. People have described it as Centro like and to some extent it is, in the sense anyway that it has those rubbery/sticky type keys. I find it easier to use though as the keys are bigger and there appears to be slightly more space between them. Don’t get me wrong, it is not anywhere near as good as that on the likes of the Treo 680 or BlackBerry Curve but it is better than the Centro keyboard and if you got on okay with that, I didn’t, then you should manage this one okay. It’s a six out of ten if the Curve is a niner.
So far I have not really done much with it. I added three apps via the worryingly small App Store, a Twitter client called Tweed which is not bad at all, the free AccuWeather app which is great and Flixster, the movie application which I also have on the iPhone and Hero. My initial reaction to these apps is that the standard of them is much more polished than those available under Android, on a par with iPhone stuff nearly, and it augurs well for the future. There is a lot of good stuff on Android but a lot of it looks sloppy to my eyes with the type of apps that look like they were knocked up in ten minutes in someones bedroom (which they probably were). Perhaps I should have a look at the Homebrew scene as there is quite a bit of stuff on there that looks of use.
I’m going to try out MotionApps Classic software to see if I can get by with that and if so I can use some of my beloved old Palm apps until better alternatives arrive for the Pre. I’m also going to buy Missing Sync for Pre as I don’t want to get involved in that silly Palm/Apple iTunes nonsense. A couple of minor irritations so far compared to the Hero…..you can’t set up different notification sounds for email, Twitter and SMS like you can on the Android phone and the Pre seems a bit slow in comparison but that could possibly be more to do with how quick the Hero is. And, I set up the Pre with my GMail, contacts and calendar linking. The first two work great so far but none of my GCal stuff has made the journey…..if I add a new meeting on the web via GCal then it syncs across but none of the stuff that was in there already synced on set up. Oh, and I did quickly add a nicer wallpaper background from my own collection as those on the Pre are too busy for my liking….I use a nice mid blue Apple desktop image that I got off the net a while back and which I also used on the Hero.
There is no Podcast app yet on the Palm App store so I will revert back to the iPhone for that and other duties. Even worse, there is no RSS software either that i can find so again the iPhone is going to be used quite a bit. I can see myself reverting to a Palm Pre phone and iPhone acting as PDA set up for a bit. Almost forgot about battery life…I have as usual disabled 3G and have also turned down the screen brightness as it is well….bright…and it looks like it will be on a par with the Hero and a bit better than iPhone but again that is a snap judgement as it is very early doors.
It’s far too early to say whether the Pre is better than the HTC Hero or iPhone or whatever in terms of how it works or the software but I will say this categorically….form factor wise it is superb and my unit is solid-ish, lovely to hold and does not feel cheap. I much prefer the shape to the hero or iPhone. I like it so far.