For the last seven days, I've been testing the Palm Pre, and today, sadly, I must send it back. I generally don't think of myself as a person who gets attached to gadgets because of their design. I scoff at tech reviews that gush over a laptop's beauty or form factor. But I must say, I became very attached to the Pre, and I think design is one of the major reasons why. It is small enough that the iPhone seems almost bulky in comparison. Plus, it feels more durable than the iPhone, less fragile. I'm afraid I'd break an iPhone within two weeks, while the Pre feels as solid as a regular phone.
And, of course, there's the fact that the Pre can multitask. I had as many as eight programs open at once on the Pre; the iPhone, by contrast, can only run one at a time. The Pre can also combine your work and personal calendars, so you can look at them both at once, and it does the same for your contacts. Overall, it's quite a nice operating system; check out the video demo below to see how it works.
There is one flaw. As you can see in the video, the keyboard is very small. It was a bit uncomfortable for me, and I wish Palm had included the option of a touchscreen keyboard. But for those business users who hate touchscreens—but still want a decent smartphone—the Pre's physical keyboard will come as a relief.
Then there's the price. Sprint's Everything Data 450 Minute plan costs only $69.99 a month, and includes unlimited data and text messaging plus GPS navigation—so get rid of that standalone GPS device. With AT&T, the plans also start at $69.99, but you have to pay $20 more for unlimited text messaging, or $5 for 200 text messages a month. And it's unclear what the iPhone's new TomTom GPS app will cost.
There is, of course, one thing I haven't mentioned: Apple's App Store. When it comes to apps, the iPhone beats the Pre hands down. But if you're just looking for a device that lets you surf the Web, check email, keep tabs on your calendar, make calls, listen to music, and get where you're trying to go ... well, the Pre is a pretty good bet.