What do you chaps think of the new HP Pre stuff?

Hmmmpfffhhh……the new HP branded exPalm Pre stuff is back with a new version of the Pixi (which failed miserably), a new updated version of the Pre 2 (which failed miserably) and a brand new, spanking tablet (possibly due to fail miserably). Overwhelmed by joy and gadget lust? Probably not.

What’s quite annoying is if you head over to the HP site or read the advertising blurb…”now available in S M L”. Now, I don’t know about you but my interpretation of the definition of the word “now” is that it means now, as in today, as in available to buy straight away. Right? Well, not according to HP as to them “now” means in the summer…..which if you go by the dictionary definition, is at least 4 months away. It’s another risky gamble.

Have they learned anything from the previous Pre fiasco? Remember the launch of the original Pre, or the announcement rather of it in January 2009, and the fact that by the time it finally arrived here in the UK in October (9 months later) it was virtually dead in the water. I’d have thought they’d have been better off delaying the formal announcement until the darn things were actually available to purchase, you know, inspire a few “spur of the moment” impulse buys on the back of the launch excitement.

Anyway, the specs for the Pre 3 look good, the screen looks lovely, if the new Web OS version on it keeps the improvements over version 1 going then it will be a lovely device, assuming of course the notorious early hardware issues, or lack of it, are sorted. I’ve still got my original Pre and fire it up now and again, for old times sake, but boy is it slow. Compared to the iPhone 4 it feels super sluggish. It always was a bit slow in launching apps and stuff but I can’t remember it being that slow. Hopefully, HP can pull in some favours, or whatever it takes, and get some of the bigger developers to get a better range of top quality software ready in time.

Check out what former Palm boss John Rubenstein told reporters …..the handset was targeted at “professionals”, adding: “Finally a phone you can use for business that you don’t want to leave at work.” That’s a bit of a change then. Obviously HP has a lot of clout in a few important areas and they could wangle things so that this new range of Web OS stuff fares well, long enough for them to get a foothold back in the market and then hopefully build on that. Mind you, why should I care anymore, it’s not like they’re Palm products anymore is it?


Palm Pre SIM free….great idea (might have been a year ago)

…well, it might have been about 11 months ago. Even then it’s not the better specced Palm Pre Plus, no,  it’s the one from last year that nobody bought because it felt like the slider would come apart. So, another great idea from Palm who have really been dishing it out in the last few years in the great sales tactics and strategy stakes. It’s hard not to look back at their pompous January 2009 Pre introduction Keynote, subsequent iPhone killing claims and not snigger at their foolhardiness. With Palm it was just one fairly disastrous product launch/business decision after another which ended up with them in the position they are now.

Remember all those videos from January 2009 following the announcement, in which they were very careful not to let anybody apart from Palm employees actually handle the device. Now we know why, had reviewers been able to deduce the appalling build quality from day one the Pre would have been even more dead in the water than it was when it was finally launched 6 or so months later. Plus, launching it in the UK on just the one carrier with no SIM free option also turned out to be another poor business decision.

Of course, I have a Pre and bought it at launch and I kind of love the little fella despite its build quality shortcomings. Web OS is a great OS, miles better than Android but the battery life is poor, it wobbles like a Weeble and months after the App Catalogue was launched there is still not enough higher quality apps to rival Android or iOS. I think Palm sort of banked on a lot of the big Palm developers porting well loved Palm apps to the Pre, to satisfy the needs of hardened Palm users but to date it has just not happened. Most had already fled to iPhone and Android by then plus lukewarm Pre/Pixis sales have kind of killed that dead in the water.

Palm Pixi Plus….sob…is gone, poor little fella

I was getting on just great with the Pixi Plus and then the darn power button bit sort of vanished/fell off. I honestly don’t know what happened to it. The night before I had been out at this pompous dinner (and had the worst meal I think I’ve ever had) and when I got back home I took off the battery cover and swopped SIM cards. The next morning I couldn’t switch it on, I was pressing away and nothing was happening. I reckon that a small bit had just fallen/broken off when I took off the battery cover…

On the subject of battery covers the Pixi has a very odd and not very nice set up. The whole of the back, extending up and round to the sides comes off in a oner and getting it off is quite scary. The original cover that came with the Pixi was replaced early on by me with the touchstone compatible one and in my struggle to get the original off I noticed that I had gouged a bit of it off (it’s very rubbery). Take care with it people.

I was a bit disappointed by this sudden non-working mode but luckily it happened on the 13th day of the 14 day return period so I quickly emailed the seller and he quickly got back saying he would honour the return and refund…phew. The Pixi is a nice little thing. Plus points

  • tiny form factor
  • very slim
  • nice screen
  • great multitasking
  • easy to move from Pre to Pixi with your Palm Profile and redownload your apps
  • great keyboard
  • it has a camera
  • very good phone and wifi reception
  • Web OS has some good Twitter apps
  • very easy to set up and ongoing maintenance is low

Not so good

  • that camera is not very good and the flash is a bit iffy too
  • getting the back off is a nightmare
  • can be laggy at times, often it will just stop for a few seconds
  • getting used to the smaller screen after the Pre/Legend is not easy
  • you’ll really struggle to get a qwerty one, unlocked and without a contract here in the UK
  • bits might fall off….
  • front looks a bit bare…naked even
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Pixi Plus and Pre Plus at o2

I was up town this afternoon, the main aim being to pick up some new shirts for work, and of course I got diverted. Incidentally, I had intended to pop into the T-Mobile store on Princes Street to have a look at their new budget android set which is available on pay-as-you-go very cheaply but the darn shop has gone….well it’s still there, it’s just that it’s not now inhabited by T-Mobile or for that matter, anybody. There is an increasing amount of empty shops up town these days no doubt partly due by how hard the Local Council make it for anybody to actually get into town these days with the ongoing tram works.

I nipped into o2 and was surprised to see both the Pre Pus and Pixi Plus out on display, in their own little section of the shop. I thought they weren’t going to be available until the 28th…..I had a wee play with both of them although they were sort of strapped into their holders which meant you couldn’t actually lift them up or turn them around or anything. Still, I have deduced that the Pre Plus has a much improved keyboard over the original Pre and my attempts to cause the slider to wobble came to nothing so it looks like the build quality is improved too. From flicking through the menus I would also say that the device is quicker as apps seemed to open a bit quicker. Having just had a Pixi Plus the other week I didn’t spend much time with it but I would say it has a great keyboard, the best of any recent device I’ve used and the build quality is good.  The picture on the left is one that I took with the HTC Legend in the store today. I asked the sales guy if they were selling the Pre Plus on pay-as-you-go and was completely blanked, had they been I’d have probably picked one up as the Plus appears to sort the niggles that plagued, to an extent, the original Pre via a much better build and much better  and much clickier keypad. Folk can laugh at the poor maligned Palm Pre but it is a very good phone. It has great call quality, fantastic reception, great wifi reception and other good points.

They also had the HTC Desire on a working display too so I fiddled with that. I don’t know what o2 have done with this particular example but I found it to be a bit slow and laggy which is at complete odds with what everyone else has been saying about it. I reckon I’m just about at the end of my Android experience. The hardware on these HTC phones is top class but there’s just something about Android that is all a bit unpolished and unfinished feeling plus the on screen keyboard on the Legend, compared to that on the iPhone, is very much 2nd class. I really struggle with it and it makes using apps that require text entry, a lot, a pain in the derriere.

Pre and now the Pixi Plus

I did it…spent far too much on a Pixi and as usual couldn’t help myself. Before I do any fancy dan review type of thing I thought I would try and establish where, or rather whom, this odd little phone is aimed at. It’s small and it’s odd, it’s like a modern Centro. It’s the first Treo type thing from Palm that has the classic form factor AND a screen that is getting near hi-res and not old school 320×320. It’s got wifi, it’s got bluetooth and it’s got a very small keyboard that is surprisingly useable and which kicks the pants off the one on the Pre.

I really believe that it’s the sort of phone that would appeal to a lot of your first time smartphone buyers or to the sort of people who look at the Nokia E72 but think it’s too square-ish or to mumsy types who want a nice, compact little phone that is simple to use and has a keypad but Palm keep shooting themselves in the foot by missing out on one thing that is important to these types….a good camera or at least a camera that sounds, by dint of the quoted mega-pixel specs, like it would be decent. They’d just pick it up in the shop, think it looks cute and then put it down again when they find out it only sports a 2 mp shooter and then move straight along to the Nokia section. If it had a 5mp camera it could be a contender or at least have more of a chance but Palm don’t appear to realise the necessity of endowing their phones this way.

Anyway, I went back to using my Palm Pre about a week ago once I finally got the battery problem sorted out. I’d tried everything, uninstalling apps one by one to see if there was a culprit there. Eventually the alarming battery drain, we’re talking here near 20% an hour, was tracked down to the Google Contacts and Calendar syncing which was very disappointing for two reasons, firstly, it’s a feature I like to have available and secondly, it worked just fine prior to the Web OS v1.4 update. Once I got back to an acceptable level of battery drain with the Pre I decided to give it another fling as I’d started to get a bit fed up with Android, not so much the Legend which is a decent plus phone, but with the increasing arrogance of the Android based main websites. These people just can’t seem to see any faults with Android at all, it’s all wonderfully flawless to them and they have 30 000 plus apps in their catalogue, all of which are better than you will find on any other platform. I hate that, they’re starting to make some of the more zealous iPhone/Mac sites look like they have a serious bout of low self-esteem.

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HP and Palm = HP Sauce

Come on , think about it. HP and Palm… The latter being the company with the “special sauce” gives us a great merger name…HP Sauce

A daftie…and other things…like a Bad Kitty

I thought this post was pretty silly. Not so much silly actually but just plain stoooopid and as a man who has posted plenty of stooopid posts himself, I should jolly well know. I’ve just plucked out a few…

  • Advertising Service iAd: This will be a mobile advertising service that sounds a lot like the advertising API’s already announced by RIM. These were supposed to be launched right around now, but at least we know they’re coming.
  • Global Inbox: Oh right, it’s a pain to manage several email accounts on an iPhone. That must be really annoying.
  • An Improved UI: I have a new improved UI regularly; it’s called a theme.

Well, most would say there’s slightly more to having a great UI than just having a myriad of horrendous “themes” available. You only have to look at any online BB store to see how their cheap and cheerful themes clog up the app listings at the expense of decent software. As for “advertising service iAd”, is her seriously suggesting this is something that people are actually begging for? The whole post is rather pitiful and smacks of desperation as the RIM OS starts to look even more dated and unappealing following Apple’s announcement of the proposed improvements to OS4.

Okay, today I purchased another two apps for my Pre. Yak and BadKitty, both Twitter apps. Yak is quite plain but has the features I need and it has the navigation bar at the bottom that avoids the need to dig into preferences (unlike Tweed) to view direct messages. It also offers notifications but that is a feature I can do without especially as my Pre battery life is still appalling. I’d love to tell you how good Bad Kitty is but unfortunately it won’t even let me log into my twitter account and thus I cannot actually use it. For some reason it skips the sign in page…I’ve emailed the developer but they haven’t bothered to reply yet.

I hate to bang on about this but here goes, web OS is stunning and to do it justice I need to get my hands on a Pixi form factor. The apps I have bought or got for nothing are elegant, simple and easy to use and they have that uniformity of presentation and navigation that makes for an experience that feels unified, in sync and iPhone like.

Talking of unresponsive developers…Twidroid has not worked on my HTC Legend as I get connection errors. It downloads now and again and then the next time won’t. I entered into a conversation with the developers via email and their suggestions smacked of not listening to the info I was giving them and not really giving a stuff. So I moved to Touiteur and it works just fine, has a lovely interface and does all I need.