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A closer look at the Palm Pre and WebOS

Smart phone makes a strong first impression

By Ginny Mies and Melissa J. Perenson
January 12, 2009 12:00 PM ET

PC World - The Palm Pre smart phone and the company's much-anticipated new operating system, called WebOS, are among the most buzzed-about products to come out of the International CES this year.

Despite staging a splashy launch, Palm has been a bit secretive with the device, reminding us of a certain company in Cupertino. But PC World had the chance to sit down with the company and delve into the operating system everyone is talking about. And though we had very limited time with the Pre and WebOS, we can tell you what we liked -- and what we didn't.

Hardware: First impressions

The glossy-black Pre has a unique curved slider body: When you slide the 3.1-in. screen up, it curves slightly toward you, a design point intended to resist glare and make the phone feel comfortable in your hand and against your face. We got to hold the phone only briefly, but it did feel good in the hand, and the body felt sturdy enough as we typed on it with the screen extended. The slight angle made it easier to view the screen, but we couldn't test the antiglare claim because our demo room was dimly lit.

The slide-out vertical QWERTY keyboard has glossy, tactile keys that are easy enough to type with. The keyboard looks much like that on the Palm Centro; here, the keys are black, with reddish-hued lettering and separate colors to designate the embedded keypad. The Palm has no touch keyboard, but a third-party developer could come out with an app.

We do have some complaints about this early unit. The keys are slightly recessed, and the bezel lip on the sides and bottom can interfere with typing. Furthermore, the top row is a few millimeters too close to the top of the slider screen, so we had to angle our fingers in order to press those letters. Palm says that the form factor may be altered slightly before the release date, so we'll be curious to see if our design nits might be addressed by then.

The specs on the Pre's camera are a bit disappointing. The 3.0-megapixel camera has an LED flash but no zoom -- a feature that even some midrange phones carry. The Pre also doesn't have video recording, a feature the iPhone also lacks. But since the operating system is open source, a video recording app could be forthcoming.

Another big disappointment is the Pre's lack of removable memory: The unit comes fixed at 8GB of storage. But Palm says you can tether the unit to a PC using a USB cable and transfer files directly from your PC to the phone; it will be recognized as a mass storage device.

Reprinted with permission from PCWorld.com. Story copyright 2012 PC World Communications. All rights reserved.
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