Eric Stewart: Running Off At The Mouth

Palm Pre: After A Month

by Eric Stewart on Sep.09, 2009, under Cell Phones & Providers, Technology

One of the folks I’ve “met” on the Internet sent me a little request asking me for my opinion of the Palm Pre, now that I’ve had it for a while.  After sending him a response, I decided that my blog site could benefit from a more thorough review.

The short review is: This phone isn’t for everyone.  Not yet, anyway.

The flip side of that is: This is the phone for tinkerers.

First, the hardware:

Well, not much tinkering to do there.  I will say that the slide out keyboard feels a little “loose”, particularly when it’s not slid out – it’s a tad wobbly.  The keyboard (as I’ve noted previously) isn’t the best I’ve come across and could stand a serious redesign to something that uses the dead space between keys to make the keys a bit bigger.

You’re going to probably want to look into getting a screen cover/protector of some sort.

I spent the money on a set of Touchstones and the Seidio 1350 mAh battery.  They’re worth it if you have a bit more to spend.

That’s pretty much it as far as hardware is concerned.


It’s a usable (though somewhat unremarkable) phone if you want to limit yourself to Sprint’s and Palm’s little world.  There are currently about 50 apps in the App Catalog and there are slowly more and more being added.  At the time of this writing, iTunes 9.0 breaks Palm Pre synchronization, but it’s likely that Palm will fix this in the upcoming update of webOS 1.2.  Email and contacts synchronization are done better than any Blackberry I’ve seen, and I personally find the calendaring tolerable (but others readily point out that it needs some work).  Thing is, I’m not so sure that, when limited to Sprint’s and Palm’s desires, that the phone is worth what they charge (even with a recent price drop).

The world opens up to you when you decide that you won’t be locked in.

Here are the sites you’re going to want to be aware of:

It took some time before I was comfortable with potentially destroying my phone, but eventually I went through the process of “rooting” my Pre and gaining access to the underlying Linux portions of the OS.  Allow me to suggest also looking at getting a hold of the webOS Quick Installer and installing fileCoaster on your Palm Pre.  And if you are like me and really like to have the option of using your Pre as a modem, stop thinking of it in terms of being a “modem” and learn how to make it a WEP capable wireless access point.  Do you really want to use your Pre as a mini mobile computer?  Be brave and get the terminal application, which is considered “alpha” software.  Don’t like the way something works?  It’s possible that the code is there but commented out, or that the webOS Quick Installer will install the tweak you’re looking for.

Until the App Catalog opens up and has a significant number of apps, the homebrew apps are the way to go.  It’s likely that a lot of them wouldn’t be approved by Palm/Sprint anyway, so I’m thinking there will always be a place for them.  I might only have four or five of them installed, but they’re four or five apps (well, two or three plus a few games) that aren’t available on the App Catalog and that I’ve found quite fun/useful to have.

So I guess that’s it – if you want to tinker with your phone and you’re a Linux enthusiast, this is the phone for you.  If you want a phone with a lot of neat apps that you don’t have to play with to get it to do what you want, then I’m guessing you need to bite the bullet, go with AT&T, and get an iPhone.


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