posts strong showing for resurgent Palm
Alan Zisman (c) 2009 First published in Business
October 20-26, 2009; issue #1043
High Tech Office column
It may be hard to remember, but a decade ago the typical handheld
business tool was a Palm Pilot personal digital assistant. Like today’s
devices, it held contact and to-do lists and personalized calendars.
Its wireless communications capabilities, however, were limited to
sending a digital “business card” to other nearby Palms.
In their day, these were market-leaders, outselling other Palm
OS-powered devices from the likes of Sony and mini-Windows handhelds
from HP, Dell and others. After buying competitor Handspring, Palm
pioneered adding mobile-phone and web-browser capabilities to PDAs with
its once innovative and popular Treo line.
But somewhere along the way, Palm fell asleep and was overtaken by the
likes of Apple’s iPhone and the various BlackBerry smartphones. Early
this year, the company announced that it was back, with its new Pre.
Now available in Canada, the Pre promises a comeback not only for Palm
but also for Bell Mobility, whose CDMA network doesn’t connect to
devices like the iPhone.
While the Pre shares a similar multi-touch screen to the iPhone, it has
a pull-down physical keyboard – somewhat small, but arguably easier to
use than the iPhone’s virtual keyboard.
Unlike the iPhone, the Pre can run more than one application at a time.
This is handy for, among other things, downloading messages in the
The Pre’s web browser is very good, equalling the iPhone’s Safari
Like the iPhone, Pre’s storage is built-in and can’t be expanded.
Unlike the iPhone, which is available in models with storage ranging
from eight to 32 gigabytes, there’s only a single, eight-gigabyte Pre
model ($199 with plan). Like the iPhone, there’s a built-in
three-megapixel camera; unlike the higher-end iPhone models, it doesn’t
Call-quality is good – better than the iPhone’s. Battery life, however,
is not so hot: plan on charging it up every night. Unlike the iPhone,
however, the battery is removable and replaceable.
In many ways, the Pre is the strongest iPhone competitor to date.
In one area, though, the Pre is far behind: iPhone users can extend
their device’s capabilities through access to tens of thousands of
add-on programs from Apple’s App Store.
Palm offers Pre users a similar-sounding App Catalog, but with only a
few dozen offerings, pickings are pretty slim. Despite the slow start
of Palm’s App Catalog, the Pre is a strong contender and a great
addition to Bell Mobility’s smartphone lineup. •