The Good The Palm Pre 2 ships with WebOS 2.0, which brings such improvements as better multitasking and enhanced universal search.
The Bad The Pre 2 doesn’t offer many hardware changes over its predecessor. The smartphone can also be sluggish.
The Bottom Line WebOS 2.0 enhancements make the Palm Pre 2 a very capable smartphone, but we think we should wait for the HP Pre 3, which will offer hardware enhancements to complement the software.
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Palm Pre 2 (Verizon Wireless)
Announced back in October 2010, the Palm Pre 2 is finally available from Verizon Wireless for $ 149.99 on a two-year contract and after a $ 50 mail rebate. On the one hand, it’s great to have another WebOS product on the market, especially with the big improvements in WebOS 2.0. On the other hand, the release date is rather unsuccessful, as HP just announced the Pre-3, which is due out this summer and has a faster processor, better hardware, world-class phone capabilities and more. Given that a bigger, faster Pre is on the way, is the Palm Pre 2 still worth it? Let’s see.
Palm Pre 2 is not far from its roots, it has a design very similar to previous versions of Pre. It retains an attractive pebble shape, but it’s not as round as the smartphone’s display is flat rather than curved. However, it is comfortable to hold and has a soft touch on the back and along the outer edges. It is also compact and comfortable for pockets, 3.96 inches high, 2.34 inches wide, 0.66 inches thick, and 5.1 ounces thick.
The Palm Pre 2 is not all that different from the Pre Plus in design.
As we noted, the Pre 2’s display is flat but remains 3.1 inches with HVGA resolution (320×480 pixels), just like the Pre Plus. True, it feels small compared to the set of smartphones we’ve tested recently on 4-inch plus displays, and it’s not the sharpest, but it’s still crisp and bright, and the multi-touch is responsive.
In addition to the touch screen, you can navigate the phone using the gesture area below the display. Although there are no physical buttons, pressing the middle of the area will bring you back to the home screen and view the log or stack. You can also long press and swipe up to launch the application so that you can just start another application without leaving the current one. Swiping from left to right will return to the previous page.
The Pre 2 keyboard will give users a thumbs-up problem.
If the sliding of the screen up reveals the full QWERTY keyboard of Pre 2. (By the way, the slider mechanism is smooth, but at closing it is still a little shaky.) Buttons and layout are almost the same as in Pre Plus. The small size and close layout of the gel buttons will give some thumbs-up users some trouble. Over time, you can learn how to adjust to the keyboard. With this in mind, we are definitely looking forward to the HP Pre 3, which comes with a more comfortable and easier to use keyboard. There is still no option on the on-screen keyboard.
At the top of the device, you’ll find a power / lock button, a silent call switch, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The volume rocker sits on the left and the Micro-USB port on the right. The latter no longer has a protective cover, which in our opinion is a good thing because it was a bit cumbersome. Finally, the camera and flash are located on the back.
The Palm Pre 2 comes with an AC adapter, USB cable, wired stereo headsets and reference materials.
Although the Palm Pre 2 does not reflect much of a change in design, there are some nice improvements to the backstage. The smartphone comes with WebOS 2.0, which brings several enhancements to some of the already impressive operating system features.
The first feature is called stacks. It extends the amazing multitasking capabilities of WebOS by grouping similar tasks in the log card window. For example, a stack may consist of your e-mail box and the new message you create. Some tasks are automatically grouped together, but you can also manually stack the cards together or arrange them by long pressing and dragging one over the other.
The idea behind stacks is to help you better manage your tasks, and of course we recognized the organization as better. Before you have to scroll through individual cards, which can be a bit unfriendly if you have a number of applications open, but the stacks help reduce clutter. We’ve had at least a dozen cards open, and no memory issues.
Another area of improvement is the universal search, now called Just Type. You can just start typing in a search term and your phone will search for your contacts, email, apps, the Internet, Google Maps, Wikipedia, Twitter and the Palm App Directory.
But wait, there is more. The reason for being called simply type is that you can also just type a note, such as “On the Road to Movies,” from anywhere in the phone’s UI, and then use the quick action menu to create a text message or email or post a Facebook status update at the touch of a button. There are also quick action buttons to create new appointments, reminders, and calendar tasks, and this is open to third-party developers so you can look forward to seeing more in the future.
Developers will also have access to other WebOS features, including Synergy and Exhibition. Synergy is an existing system of contacts, email and calendar, and synchronization has for some time been limited to Microsoft Exchange, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn. Now that third-party developers have access to Synergy, the list has already expanded to Skype, YouTube and Photobucket.
We were able to seamlessly link Exchange, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube accounts as WebOS dragged all the information from those accounts to Pre 2. We also created new appointments on both PC and PC phones and events synchronized on both sides.
In the meantime, the show is something that will come in handy for those who have a Touchstone charging dock as it will allow you to continue using apps or access information when your smartphone is on the dock. Unfortunately, we did not receive the Touchstone Dock with our review unit to check out the exhibit, but a few examples provided by Hewlett-Packard and Palm viewed slideshows of your photos, stocks, news and sports, and interaction with your virtual pet.
As a phone, the Palm Pre 2 offers speaker, speed dial, conference calls, airplane mode, as well as text and multimedia messages. Although voice dialing still avoids WebOS. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS are all on board and the smartphone can be used as a mobile hotspot for up to five devices.
The hotspot feature requires a $ 20 per month Verizon mobile broadband plan with a limit of 2GB (Verizon charges 5 cents per megabyte for overhead). We connected Pre 2 to our MacBook Pro, with an average download speed of 1.06 Mbps and a download speed of 0.57 Mbps, which was fast enough for us to browse the Internet.
Pre 2 also comes with a number of applications for managing personal information and productivity, including Quickoffice for viewing Microsoft Office files, a PDF reader, notepad, task list, alarm clock and calculator, and the Verizon VZ Navigator GPS App. Of course, add-ons are available from the Palm Add-ons directory.
As for multimedia, the built-in media player supports MP3, AAC, AAC +, EAAC +, AMR, QCELP and WAV music files and MPEG-4, H263 and H264 video formats. You can transfer music and videos to your Pre 2 using a USB cable by dragging files to your phone. You can also download new music from your phone through the Amazon MP3 Store or watch YouTube videos with a dedicated app. The Pre 2 offers about 15GB of user-friendly memory, but be aware that there is no expansion slot.
There is no editing in the Pre 2 camera, but we were pleased with the image quality.
Last but not least, there is a 5MP Pre 2. It offers LED flash, video recording and geotagging capabilities, but you can forget about any editing options. Fortunately, the image quality was quite good. The photos came out sharp, and the colors were mostly bright and rich, even when taken in low light.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO Rev. A) Palm Pre 2 in New York using Verizon Wireless and the call quality was normal. In general, we thought the sound was clear, but we could hear a little static during the lull in the conversation, and the voices could sound a little muffled. On the other hand, the friends generally had a good say in sound quality. There were a few mentions of some static ones, but they seemed to be single cases and not enough reason to end the call.
Sample call quality of the Palm Pre 2Listen now:
The loudspeaker quality was low enough and there was not enough volume to hear subscribers in a louder environment. We had no problems pairing the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveler Bluetooth headset and Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active headphones, and we were able to make calls and listen to music with them.
During our review period, we did not experience any canceled calls, and we recorded some good data rates using the 3G EV-DO Rev. The full CNET site loads in 30 seconds, and the mobile CNN and ESPN sites load in 4 seconds. The Pre 2 web browser now supports Flash Player 10.1. It took a few seconds to download, but the smartphone was able to play the video correctly and without interference.
The Pre 2 runs on a 1GHz TI OMAP processor with 512MB of RAM. Overall performance is definitely improving over previous versions of Pre, as programs and menus run a little faster. Media and game streaming also went smoothly and we didn’t experience any crashes during our review period. However, there were still moments of sluggishness, with one case where the delay was long enough to make us think that the phone had frozen. Although the Pre 2 was not designed to compete with some top-end smartphones, it certainly makes one wonder how much better it will be on the Pre 3, which will have a Qualcomm 1.4 GHz processor.
The Palm Pre 2 comes with a 1,150mAh lithium battery and has a rated talk time of 5.5 hours and up to 14 days standby time. In our battery tests, we were able to get 6 hours of continuous talk time in a single charge. All in all, we were able to get a full day of battery use before we needed recharging. According to FCC radiation tests, the Pre 2 has a digital specific absorption coefficient of 0.962 W / kg and a hearing aid compatibility rating of M4.
First, it was a while when we had a WebOS device to browse, so it was really great to have it back in our hands. It reminded us how much we love the mobile operating system for its multitasking, data management and search functionality, and new enhancements only make it better. However, it is unfortunate that Palm Pre 2 took so long to land with an American carrier, given that it took only a few months for the HP Pre 3.
Thanks to this summer Pre 3 offers a faster processor, larger touch screen and keyboard, world roaming capability and a front-facing camera, among others. It’s not just about the specifications; We were really impressed with Pre 3 when we got some time with him at the launch event and at the Mobile World Congress. Of course, there is still uncertainty about carrier support, delivery dates and prices, but if you can afford it, we think it’s worth the wait to see how it performs Pre 3. At a minimum, the price of the Palm Pre 2 may drop by the time the launch of its successor on the market.