Palm Unveils The Pre And It's Pretty

Brian Kraemer

And, oh my, does it look pretty.

Using Palm Synergy, the Pre can bring all of a user's diverse contacts into a single, easy to manage address book. By giving the Pre access to social networking sites like Facebook and e-mail applications like Gmail and Outlook, the smartphone will create an all-inclusive list of contacts that reside in a single place. For friends or work contacts that are listed twice, the Pre will link the two entries together, providing seamless access to contacts regardless of where they normally live.

Another tantalizing feature of the Pre is the ability to run multiple applications at a single time. Pre users will, according to Palm, be able to have a map application open while checking e-mail and listening to music.

That's a qualm that I currently have with my iPhone. If I'm using my Pandora app and need to look up an address, I have to click the home button, close Pandora and open the Google Maps application separately.

How smoothly multiple applications run simultaneously remains to be seen, but the fact that Palm included this functionality in the Pre shows that they have been giving their latest smartphone some serious thought while developing it.

In what is becoming a standard for smartphones these days, the Pre comes Wi-Fi enabled, unlike Research In Motion's BlackBerry Storm. Along with Wi-Fi capabilities is a built-in GPS, another must in the mobile device market.

But the best part of the Pre might be the fact that it seems to blend together some of the best elements of both Apple's iPhone and the G1 Google phone. The Pre has both a touch screen for slick, fingertip navigating and a slide-out full QWERTY keyboard for more intense messaging.

But the Pre does it in what I think is a classier and more stylish way than the G1. On the Pre, the keyboard slides out from underneath the touch screen, giving it the look of a BlackBerry, but with a more vibrant screen.

The rest of the specs are equally as impressive. The Pre comes preloaded with 8 GB of storage space and GPS navigation. The touch screen is a 3.1-inch 320 x 480 display. Another place where the Pre has a significant advantage over the iPhone is its camera, which has an LED flash and takes photos at 3.1 megapixels.

The Pre will be available on Sprint's network. The availability for the smartphone hasn't yet been announced, but it is expected to be released in the first half of 2009.

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