Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review of the Moment: Palm Pre Plus, Part 1

After using my Samsung Flight phone for exactly two years (I'm amazed at this feat since the handset incited my ire from time to time, though I will praise its steadfast battery life), I decided that it's time to upgrade to a smartphone. I'm still under a contract with my current phone provider so a new, discounted smartphone that has an attached contract is out of the question.

I guess I'll bite the bullet and bid for a phone on eBay because it's the only place I know where I can find the model I want.

Now I must assert that I am no good at bidding. You know why? Because there's no telling whether the item I want will land in my ideal price range, considering there are other buyers pouncing for the same thing. I've bid for items before, and I will tell you that the bidder with extra room in their wallet wins. I am not that person.

I vowed to myself that I will stick to my budget of $50--not a lot to work with, I must admit. Then again, I'm not in eBay to look for the best and the brightest smartphone because these attributes usually have a heavy price tag attached to them. Here are my pretty humble requirements:

1. Reasonable price

2. Wi-Fi capable

3. A big screen that can render web pages clearly (doesn't need to be a touch screen)

4. A QWERTY keyboard because I need tactile feedback when typing

5. Efficient multitasking capabilities

The phone I want doesn't need to be brand new. As long as it's functional and in good shape (although I do prefer a phone that has very minimal wear and tear), I'll be a happy camper.

Enter the Palm Pre Plus. I never really considered this smartphone since I was adamant in getting a Nokia E series handset (it's the one optimized for business users). I do remember Sprint touting the Palm Pre as the carrier's "iPhone killer," but the last news I heard about Palm is that HP acquired them. Bummer.

Anyway, I did my homework and read reviews online. I'm glad the phone consistently got good reviews; in fact, it's claim to fame is its seamless multitasking capability. Yay.

Coincidentally, a listing for a pre-owned Palm Pre Plus became available in eBay. The downside: it's on the auction block. I told myself to suck it up and pray that it won't reach the limit. The end result: it didn't reach my limit! Even after adding up the shipping and handling, I considered it a steal.

First Impressions

Upon receiving my pre-owned Palm Pre Plus in the mail, I was amazed at everything. The package came with the original USB cable, AC adapter, battery, battery cover, and Palm Pre Plus handset. The handset is built all around in plastic, and I was surprised it didn't have a toy-like quality to the chassis. The whole thing is solidly built, and the same goes to the phone's sliding mechanism. For a pre-owned phone, it slides tightly.

The front, where the touch screen is situated, is made of glossy plastic as opposed to other smartphones which are equipped with Gorilla Glass. The battery cover, which encompasses the whole back, is matte, and has a metal Palm logo engraved on it. This Palm logo actually serves a function besides making the phone look minimal chic. As seen in the video below, when placed on top of the Palm Pre touchstone charger, it can wirelessly charge the phone.

The Palm Pre Plus has a very minimal aesthetic. Even the few buttons that it has, such as the volume rocker and power button, are discreetly shrouded in black matte plastic. The only gripe I found with my phone was the volume rocker was a bit shaky--not terribly so, but just too shaky for my liking.

When the phone is slid up, it reveals the QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard is excellent in my opinion, but some may find it too small. To my medium-sized digits, it proved sufficient. The keys have a tactile feel to them, ensuring your key presses are registered to the phone.

The 3.1 inch capacitive touch screen (320 x 480 resolution) is very bright, clear and colorful even though it's much smaller than competing smartphones. Despite the fact that I had to repeat my presses from time to time, the screen is amply responsive. Another feature of the touch screen is the multi-touch capability akin to the iPhone. That means you can zoom in and out by pinching the screen.

After using the phone for a couple of days, I have to report that the Palm Pre Plus excels at multitasking. I will tell more about the functionality in the next post, but I will leave with this: the phone doesn't have the best battery life. Its documented talk time is merely 5 hours (8 hours is the average) while the standby time is 350 hours or approximately 14.6 days (the average is 20 days).

This means I'll be lugging the charger with me everywhere. But it's not so bad since the compact charger (composed of the AC adapter connected to the USB cable) carries the minimalism of the phone: it's cased in black plastic with aluminum details. I think it looks pretty chic.

Monday, June 18, 2012