To start the second week of the Smartphone Round Robin, we're taking a look at Palm's new webOS by way of the Pre and the Pixi. If you're unfamiliar with the story of Palm here's my quick summary: they were once dying, the Pre & webOS saved them, and they now have a good chance of surviving and maybe even thriving.

And that's pretty much all I know. Of course, I know that webOS is very big on multitasking and that the OS is quite beautiful (have you seen the fonts!) but I'm definitely going to need some help. I've started a 'get to know webOS' thread over at the PreCentral.net Forums and am sure the Pre and Pixi users there will help me out. On another note, Matthew Miller of Nokia Experts has Android this week, so if you'll be so kind to help him out in our Forums, it'd be much appreciated. You might even win an Android smartphone of your choice!

So be sure to check out my hands-on video of webOS after the jump. The Pre and Pixi are both such great devices and I'm sure I'll love my time with them! Stay tuned!

 

Reader comments

webOS Hands On Video, Smartphone Round Robin

21 Comments

You'll love WebOS. Once (if) VzW ever gets their hands on it and crams it down the American consumers throat, it's few shortcomings will be fixed by 3rd party development and it will be an excellent choice for anyone - Business or consumer.

Prediction - the great look and feel of the Pixie is hampered by it's lack of hardware features (and it's name lol). The Pre would be the ultimate smartphone, if version 2 ever comes out.

Have fun playing with them!

The Pre is available with sim card/gsm in Canada, Germany, and Europe in general. Pretty much everwhere (it has been for some time now). In the first quarter of 2010, it will also be available in the USA. It's funny how smartphone users like yourself either refuse or are just too plain stupid to do any research on the devices you claim to be into but probably can't use for anything but texting/receiving calls from your mom.

The Pre is very responsive - possibly the most response smartphone I remember using. It felt better than the Droid, the MT3G (what I have now), iPhone (also have) or other touch screen device. I just wish it were open to develop on like the Android platform and that I could travel with it - which you can't because it's Sprint.

WebOS app development is actually quite open. Not locked down at all. Take a look at the thriving homebrew community over at PreCentral.net and the nearly 400 homebrew apps available on their repository.

Specifically, take a look at the Ares "over the web" development environment. Create apps (full GUI widgets) from within a browser, with no dev environment to install. It's at ares.palm.com
Pretty impressive!

Why do you say you can't travel with Sprint? Out side of Verizon they have the best coverage of the big 4. They have free roaming if you are out side of their network so you basically use Verizon's network then. I guess it doesn't work in Europe, if thats what you mean.

But what about Europe? Isn't it really expensive to travel with a CDMA phone outside of Verizon or Sprint's US network?

It is way more expensive than plopping in a disposable SIM card, and some countries don't have CDMA at all so you won't be able to use the phone at all.

Other places (parts of South America and Asia) are CDMA compliant, but without the ability to switch out the SIM, you are locked into whatever roaming agreement your carrier has. (trust me. your pockets will be flat afterwards.)

nb

sprint offers a $40 unilimited worldwide data plan for countries that use cdma, and its prorated.

because of this, I find it much cheaper than say, at&t. Especially to canada.

The Pre is available with sim card/gsm in Canada, Germany, and Europe in general. Pretty much everwhere (it has been for some time now). In the first quarter of 2010, it will also be available in the USA. It's funny how smartphone users like yourself either refuse or are just too plain stupid to do any research on the devices you claim to be into but probably can't use for anything but texting/receiving calls from your mom.

i think the pre is muy calinete... i like a tha andorid too papis.. but that sexy lil pre .. it makes my latin blood boil. taco flavored kisses to all my lil droiditos...

The cards is the greatest thing about WebOS. It makes multi-tasking so easy. It's what I miss the most about the PRE when I went back to the iPhone.

Yeah, I'm really torn about the pre vs Android vs iPhone... Up until a few months ago (when the Hero came out) I was totally going to get an iPhone when my contract was up with Verizon. However, the more I read about the terrible network problems and just general AT&T badness, I started to look at other smart phones. First of all, until I looked at the pre, there wasn't anything that I felt could really compare with the iPhone as far as speed and responsiveness. Ignoring the App situation for now. I've played with the Hero/Eris and now the droid and even after that, I still feel like the iPhone looks and feels better (don't flame me, to each his own). I finally had a chance to play with the Pre at Best Buy recently and I really think Palm did a bang up job with it. Still, I have a few issues with it. First is that the plastic casing felt cheap. The in-store model was pretty used looking and had a far bit of play between the front the back halves. I think Pre owners call it "Twist" or something. Second is that I really felt it was in inconvenience to always have to open the slider just to quickly type something in. A virtual keyboard would be great. I've seen the home brew hack that seems to work but I really wish Palm would just make one that looks nice and works more like the one in Sense UI. that brings me to my number three: Where's the auto correct?! Really? That's the best you can do Palm? Really? Lets hope there is a better auto correct in the home brew scene. Again, what I want is what HTC has done with the SenseUI keyboard.

As far as the actual WebOS, IO think it's brilliant and deservers all the attention it's been getting. I'm hoping desperately that they integrate WebGL soon so I can start developing 3D games for it. :D

Anyway, despite these things I think I'll still get one once it comes out on Verizon early next year.

One thing: the center button is not the only way to go into card view. If you just swipe from the gesture area (the black part below the screen where the center button is at) up towards the app, it goes into card view. You can also grab a card and swipe it back down into the gesture area to open it again. I only use the center button to light up and blink when I have notifications.

...also, instead of swiping down for the menus that are always at the top, if you just touch the area as if it's a button, it works much more smoothly.

I really wish they would show themes as well.. The pre nearly has 1000 themes for it.. Changes the entire look of the phone from lebron james to modern warfare 2..

The webOS is a great UI. Yes there can be issues with it. However, what other platform makes it so easy to hack, customize, etc. They basically opened up the system and the Homebrew community is just awesome. Making changes for the programming challenged is a breeze.

When you are done testing the Pre and Pixi, see if you dont try using gestures on your phone. They become so easy and intuitive.

I owned a Pre for 29 days and have now owned a Sprint HTC Hero for a few weeks. Frankly, a lot of us are more expert on the details and differences between the two phones and their OS's than the guy doing this blog/column/whatever.

Bottom line: Doing almost anything on the Pre and WebOS is FAR smoother and easier than on the cumbersome Android phones (not to mention the clutzy iPhone). The Pre is a far more integrated device, and Palm is totally correct in pointing out that neither the iPhone nor Android can match the Pre's multitasking UI.

With Android and iPhone, one has to tab back to the "home" screen and then re-launch programs you want to go back to....there seems to be endless "tap tap tapping" to move among programs on Android and the iPhone. For example, I can't simply copy a movie time from Flixter and paste it into a text to a friend without endless tapping back and forth through screen and menus. On the Pre, however, it was simplicity itself to move across "cards" and interact with multiple programs and apps simultaneously. I find myself constantly sighing when using the Hero when I realize how cumbersome it is compared to WebOS.

I could go on comparing the phones, but nobody's paying me, so I'll stop it there for now.

The only reason I didn't stick with the Pre was that the initial hardware builds have had so many problems. I had the cracked screen, the loose-battery reboots, and the notorious "oreo effect" on both Pre's I owned. Also, the silly plastic charger door cover was a needless pain in the neck. I'm hoping Palm comes out with a much sturdier Pre II, at which point I'll be going back to WebOS. I find myself really hoping Palm survives and prospers, because they REALLY have something with WebOS. It's the way Apple SHOULD have gone with the next-gen iPhones but didn't...

- Astro