September 1, 2009

Become a Ninja Phone Warrior with the Pre

Filed under: blog — Tags: , , , — tsladmin @ 5:49 am

I’m still getting questions about my Palm Pre phone and since I still love it, I thought I’d do another update about my experience so far (see my initial review here).
The first thing I want to note is that the Pre lived up to my expectations during ALA’s Annual Conference last month, making me a mobile ninja warrior during while I was there. How? By acting like a computer, matching my workflow, and letting me track what was happening in real-time.

  • One of the phone’s best features is its ability to multitask, which makes it more like a laptop than the Treo and Centro, and that really comes in handy at a conference where so much is happening online. The fact that I could always have my email, text messages, and a web browser running at the same time – all the time – made me incredibly efficient. Being able to swipe between all of the open cards without having to wait for one to close and another to open was literally a joy. I finally have a phone that works like I do.
  • All of the Pre’s Twitter clients are pretty good, but they’re all made better by the fact that they can be open in multiple cards at once. So in addition to having my email and text messages open at all times, I also tended to have Tweed open in three cards at any given time – one for my personal shifted account, one for the alaannual account, and one for the #ala2009 hashtag. I could easily favorite tweets and switch between accounts to manage replies.
  • The combination of GPS, Google Maps, and Sprint Navigation was a godsend for someone like me who’s geopositionally-challenged on a campus as large as Chicago. If only the GPS could have helped me navigate around McCormick Place, I would have been a punctual ninja phone warrior.
  • Push email and wireless sync for Exchange are phenomenal on the Pre. I usually saw new messages on my Pre before they appeared in Outlook on my laptop, and not having to plug in to sync my calendar or contacts was great on the go.

Despite all of these benefits, there were a few disappointments.

  • The biggest issue I encountered was battery life, although I was very careful to recharge every possible chance I could get so it was rare for me to fully drain the battery. In the future, I may try one of the extended batteries during conferences, but I’m going to track usage a little more before investing in a second battery.
  • From an organizational standpoint, I need the folks making Twitter clients to recognize the need to add an option to the standard reply/favorite/retweet menu for email so that I can forward tweets to get help answering them. This isn’t really a knock on the Pre, as I need this functionality on my desktop, too, but it would really enhance the mobile experience since email can be open at the same time as a Twitter client.
  • The lack of Flash support is still a problem, so I’m glad this will be resolved by the end of the year.
  • My Sprint reception was nonexistent in parts of the convention center, but I think that’s to be expected in a concrete structure like McCormick Place. My friends who were on AT&T and Verizon seemed to have problems, too, so I don’t think this issue was limited to Sprint. It made me even more grateful for the addition of wifi, though.

Despite the fact that many of the annoyances I noted in my initial review still remain, I don’t regret buying the Pre at all, and my enthusiasm continues to grow now that I’ve hacked my phone to install homebrew apps. It’s great to be able to install programs from any developer again, the way apps used to be. (If you have a Pre and you haven’t done this yet, it’s very easy!)
Using the homebrew list, I’ve already been able to restore a version of text snippets (P2snippets, although I wish it had an automatic keyword trigger), the Shoutcast catalog of streaming radio stations, shopping lists, picture dialing, Solitaire, and Word Whirl, among other things. Of course, the problem with this is that my productivity level has dipped because I have Word Whirl again (I was addicted to Text Twist on the Treo/Centro). ;-)
After almost three months of use, I still stand by my original recommendation that Treo and Centro owners should upgrade if they can. I really don’t think you’ll regret it, as long as you can afford one of the unlimited data plans. I’m still having good luck on the Sprint network, far more so than the people I hear complaining about AT&T. The Pre is a great upgrade for past Palm users because it continues the tradition of focusing on substance, not just style (although, there’s plenty of that in this Palm product for a change).
Feel free to keep sending me your questions or asking them in the comments.


  1. How much data are you using in a month?

    Comment by David — September 1, 2009 @ 7:18 am

  2. I’m not sure, David. Since I’m on an unlimited everything plan, I don’t even check. I’m not even sure where I would – sorry. :-/

    Comment by jenny — September 1, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

  3. Hi. I am a longtime Palm user and am in a serious dilemma and would appreciate your advice. I currently use the Treo 650 b/c I wanted to keep w/ the Palm OS. This is my 3rd model of the same Treo. I formerly used the Handspring Visor and several models of Palm Pilots. I am w/ Verizon, who has basically eliminated Palm products from their inventory. I really love my Treo and use it a LOT. The rest of my family plan members are ready to upgrade to the new Blackberry Tour 9630, but I am having troubles loving it, unlike my Treo. I like the Blackberry keyboard but hate that this newest model is keyboard only and not touch screen too. And, while the Treo has it’s issues, I love and heavily use the Task feature, the Palm Desktop, Datebk6, and my 3rd party splashID. From what I understand, the Pre does not use the Palm Desktop and even some of my favorite features. Do I bite the bullet and become a crackberry-user despite not loving it? Do I leave the Verizon family and move to Sprint to have the Pre? Will the Pre make me miss my Treo? From what I’ve read, many former Palm users aren’t that thrilled w/ the new Pre, though new Palm users love it. Any advice you can offer would be appreciated. Many thanks!

    Comment by Damon — September 3, 2009 @ 6:38 pm

  4. Hello – I developed P2Snippets. Tell me more about a word ‘trigger’…
    Remember, users can get to post feedback for new features/ideas and if feasible – I’ll add it in.

    Comment by P2Labs — September 19, 2009 @ 10:23 am

  5. Hi, Erwin (?) –
    First of all, thanks for developing P2Snippets – it’s already been a great program in the homebrew catalog, and I’m thrilled to see it’s passed QA for the official app one.
    On my Treo 650, I had a program like P2Snippets where I could store a chunk of text, but I could also associate a made-up word with it. Something like esig or tslurl, and every time I entered in a program (memo, email, text), it would expand to insert the stored text. I’m not sure how much you can integrate with WebOS yet, but that would be my ideal. :-)
    Keep up the great work!

    Comment by jenny — September 20, 2009 @ 9:27 pm

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