Today I would like to talk of the new 'Pre' mobile phone-PDA by Palm.
I was an avid fan of the Palm 1000 introduced over 10 years ago. In fact, I soon upgraded the memory from the mere 1 megabyte to a 3 megabyte memory unit! Wow! I remember taking medical notes on it and using the writing area so hard that the screen wore out!
I soon upgraded to the 3M Palm with a fluorescent blue backlight and more speed and so on....
Palm was the major market leader in PDAs with its progressively better machines and improvements in its Palm OS. There were many medical applications made for the platform that have proven extremely helpful in aiding patient care decisions over the years.
Windows Mobile, Blackberry and most lately the iPhone have been getting a strong foothold on the market to the extent that Palm has been on the back foot. What with the failed Foleo that was pulled just before its release and the millions of dollars of losses, many were afraid of Palm's demise.
Moreover, the iPhone has been a major success with its new screen abilities and functions and with the AppStore providing a wealth of applications. This has meant that Palm has lost ground that it must fast make up.
However, the iPhone is limited in particular ways. It has only 128 mb of on-board ram, the most of which is used by 'wired' applications and other necessary processes leaving little space for bigger applications. Hence, only one programme can be allowed to run at once (apart from music running in the background). There was a similar phenomena with the original Palm OS, that being a lack of multi-tasking, but that was 1o years ago and technology has moved on in leaps and bounds since then. Hence, although many regard Apple as a world leader in computing for its progressive and intelligent development and machines made for ease of use, why did it not include true multi-tasking abilities on the iPhone? Perhaps others would like to comment.
Nonetheless, multi-tasking is something that the Windows Mobile and the new Palm Pre can handle with apparent ease.
Palm has been watching the market and come up with the excellent Palm 'Pre'. It is smaller than the iPhone but has more functionality. It is apparently a more open platform with programmes being written in html and Java script code.
Additionally, as mentioned, the Palm Pre allows programmes to run simultaneously and the interface appears intuitive and easy to use. It brings many aspects of the internet into one compact user experience rather than as separate programmes e.g. Facebook interfaces with contacts etc...
One major plus that separates the Pre from the iPhone is the built-in drop down physical keyboard for all those of us who like to feel keys rather than hope to press the right area on a screen. Although the iPhone can utilise haptic feedback, it is not the same as physical keys.
This unit may well become the next portable medical platform because of the ease to write programmes, the ability to have multiple programmes open at once, a more intuitive internet experience and a physical keyboard in a very compact structure.
Palm has definitely shrug off the years of lagging behind its competitors to produce a unit that surpasses the iPhone in many ways.
One downside is that in its current form, the Pre does not seem to have additional memory card slots. The internal memory is just 8gb which is okay for most users, but for those power users, 16-32gb is the current standard. However, the back of the unit is removable so that battery replacements can be inserted which is not a feature of the iPhone.
Lastly, for ease of use, the Pre comes with a unique charging platform. No longer is the phone required to be 'plugged in'. It rests on a magnetic charging unit which can charge the battery by contact alone. Great! This brings new ways to charge in the car and use of hands-free settings.
Although the iPhone has been revolutionary in many, many ways, the lack of multi-tasking, lack of ram, and the stringent rules of the AppStore regarding what you are allowed to put on your own device are in some people's opinions, big let downs. Let's wait and see what Apple have for us in their next version of the iPhone 3G.
Hence, at the moment the new Palm Pre seems to beat the iPhone hands down. Let the Platform War Begin. This has to be better for consumers. It will drive the manufacturers to continuously improve their products and hopefully keep the prices down too :-)
Although I think fondly of that Palm 1000, I am glad that things have significantly moved on. I look forwards to what the next 10 years has to bring!
So, say goodbye to Palm OS 5.4 and say hello to WebOS.
For more information, please check out the Palm website www.palm.com