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Palm Pre Plus: Impressive Technology Hasn't Ironed Out the Frustrations

March 2, 2010

Jeremy Nisen --

Palm Pre Plus review Impressive Technology Hasn't Ironed Out the Frustrations

I recently put the Palm Pre Plus from Verizon through its paces, and, despite a beautiful form factor and impressive technology, found it to be a pretty mixed experience.

From the moment the Palm Pre Plus hit my hand, I was inclined to like it. With curved lines and a slightly convex back, it felt great in my, er, palm. And it looks like a lovely piece of shiny candy, especially when that bright screen gets activated. The slide-out keyboard is neat and surprisingly functional for such a Lilliputian QWERTY device. I also kind of like the little mirror in the back, strictly for vanity purposes.

I like the "card"-based operating system, which allows for pretty easy switching between active functions. There is a bit of a learning curve to navigating the OS that reminded me of the old Palm Pilot graffiti system in a way. Though far less complicated, most navigation is done through a series of swipes on the bottom panel. It's hardly intuitive, but if you invest in this phone and plan to keep it for a while, it's worth committing to memory, of course. The pinching/zooming, on the other hand, is super easy and works very, very well.

The camera is okay; it doesn't operate very well in low light without the flash, and using the flash seems to invite flares into your pictures. But in a well-lighted area, the images taken with the camera turn out pretty nice. There is no out-of-the-box video capture.

The email integration is easy and works well; no complaints on that front. The VZ Navigator worked well for me, as it has with other Verizon phones, but actually steered me incorrectly on a trip back from San Diego a couple weeks ago. I'll chalk it up to a blip.

My main problems with the device: it's slow to respond. The touchscreen seems a little inaccurate and has a delayed response to input to boot. The swiping mechanism I mentioned above is even slower to respond to commands. And this is the next-generation of the device, which is faster (CPU-wise) than its Sprint-carried predecessor!

There is no expandable memory. While that's not a problem in the sense that this is a 16-gig device, for those of us that like to use micro SD to conveniently share files between devices, it's a hassle.

The Web renders pretty slowly as well. Since I've experienced Verizon's blazing mobile network on several other devices, I can only blame the Palm Pre Plus for this.

Also, the battery life is horrendous. Worse than the Droid (which is no great shakes in the battery department itself, but on balance is a fantastic phone).

The phone gets uncomfortably hot very quickly.

Finally, unless I am doing something horribly wrong, you can't download music files from the Web to the device. You can stream them, but I generally prefer to download several podcasts onto the hardware for later listening.

But, if you'll allow me to finish on a positive note, the Mobile Hotspot functionality is awesome. Just like the Mi-Fi that I tested last summer (though note using the Mobile Hotspot functionality brings significant extra data charges, $40 for 5 gigs). There are also a pretty good number of fun apps (from free to paid) that bring instant additional functionality to the phone.

I suspect that consumers who are not exactly power users and are more interested in form than ease of functionality would enjoy the Palm Pre Plus. Me? For now, I'm sticking with Droid.

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