Further Imprēssions

As I haven‘t sold my Palm Prē yet (which is in a way unfortunate, as there has been a huge price drop recently) I feel like sharing my opinions on the Prē.

I have used it quite a bit, though not as much as I could have, because I use my G1 most of the time: I am afraid of scratching the Prē. While the form factor is nice (though there might be people that prefer a slightly bigger screen (which would result in a larger device) at less thickness), the Prē‘s surface is made of glossy plastic. If you ever handled glossy plastic, you might have noticed that it catches scratches easily. Besides this, there are some more hardware issues: The keyboard, which I don‘t really like, as it is pretty small. And there is no soft keyboard, besides a hacked-in one on PreWare which unfortunately doesn‘t quite do what you would expect from a decent soft keyboard: come up automagically whenever there is something to be typed – in fact this experience reminds me of the soft keyboard Android 1.0 on the OpenMoko had.

Having no software keyboard, you have to use its hardware sibling i already critisized, and this means, whenever you feel like typing something (or not, but you‘re required to) you have to switch to portrait mode. As a G1 user, which has a hardware keyboard which you use in landscape mode, this feels slightly inconvinient. In fact webOS feels much like you´d expect looking at Palm‘s device range: It‘s all portrait optimized (but I am used to landscape thanks to the G1’s keyboard). In fact you notice this when you get some notifications. Soon you will feel a little bit like watching a 2.35:1 movie on a 4:3 screen if you know what you mean. This, again, doesn‘t feel too great, so it‘s not as bad as turn to portait whenvever there is typing action thing. In fact I didn‘t manage to try out too many apps as I didn‘t want to throw money at Palm‘s App Catalog as I never felt like that the Prē would replace my G1 – after buying it. So all I tried out was actually for free (there are considerably less high quality free apps on webOS than on Android (though the homebrew/PreWare community came up with some nice ones) which is probably due to webOS proprietary nature) or inbuilt. And sorry to say so, but that‘s not it. I noticed a lack of creativity apps (like pianos, drum machines and alike), but there is one more point that annoyed me a lot more, being a heavy GMail user who follows mailing lists using GMail: No threaded mail in webOS mail client, and simple no way to mark tons of Mail as read. Really, webOS‘s inbuilt email client killed the experience. Not only it felt hard to write Mail (because of the keyboard issue), in addition to that it felt hard to manage my mails, or at least a lot more inconvenient than on Android. A simple GMail notification service linking to the mobile GMail web interface would do a lot better (sometimes I think so on Android as well).

While there might be further issues, which i didn‘t notice because I didn´ t dive deep enough into webOS, aside the mentionned ones which could be rouled out by another webOS update.

Conclusion: I have to say that webOS is a great platform with perfect mobile multitasking, which has nice animations rocking a beautiful interface (even great sounds) that is not that usable as it should be running on beautiful hardware which doesn‘t feel that solid or sturdy you would like it to. A platform that might be really great with a few new devices and a new software revision. I recommend to wait for webOS 2.0.

Regarding the Prē I have to say that it is overall a nice, rather speedy device which has a nice camera (image quality is more than ok and the shutter speed is the best I ever experienced on a smartphone (though I didn’t invest much in camera savvy smartphones). If there was a decent Android port (or a webOS without the issues I mentionned), it could be my number one smartphone.