Verizon Pre 2 Review
After using the Palm Pre 2 for a few days, it’s really hard to tell any visual difference between its webOS 2.0 interface and the earlier version that was on the Palm Pre Plus, but you can feel the difference, as multitasking is handled better with more ‘cards’ open on the screen, and programs open quicker, which is also thanks to the faster processor.
The bottom of the home screen has a five icon launcher. The far left is phone, the far right is menu and the middle three (contacts, email, calendar) can be customized by holding an icon and dragging it in or out of the launcher. The launcher disappears when you enter an application, but can be pulled up within that app simply by sliding your finger from the bottom up the screen, creating an attractive launcher that looks like a wave of icons.
The webOS 2.0 design is full of gestures like this, most of which are very intuitive. Some are familiar to the average smartphone user, such as swiping the screen to switch between pages and pictures; while others are more specific and may use the gesture area at the far bottom. In this area, the user can flick back and forth to move between web pages, or simply take a step back. Gestures make the Palm Pre 2 very easy to use, and given the improvements to the OS and the 1GHz processor in the Pre 2, webOS 2.0 presents the user with a generally smooth experience.
Activity cards occupy the home screen and support the Palm Pre 2's multi-tasking experience, enabling the user to flip through them to switch between applications and create stacks of the same app, equivalent to having multiple windows open. They are easily closed by swiping them up and off of the screen. Notifications appear subtly in the bottom right of the screen and can either be expanded when selected or swiped down to be ignored.
The new Just Type feature is an evolution of Palm's universal search. By simply typing into the field at the top of the screen, it will begin to match your input to phone content or search (like Facebook, contacts, a Google search or even a Palm App Catalog search). This performs very well and takes full use of the QWERTY keyboard.
The remainder of the software on Verizon’s Palm Pre 2 is pretty much identical to its GSM cousin, such as the phonebook, messaging, email, and organizer, so we won’t go into great detail about that here, except to say that it integrates your accounts from Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, MS Exchange, Skype, and Yahoo quite well so they are all at your fingertips. Other included apps on the Pre 2 are the QuickOffice (for opening Word, Excel and PowerPoint files), PDF viewer, photo viewer (which supports pinch-and-zoom), music player, video player, and YouTube player.
Other apps are downloadable from the App Catalog which is much improved when compared with the original Pre's line-up, with Evernote and Tweed (a Twitter client) working well for example. There is also a good Facebook app, with support for chat, very smooth operation and seamless integration into the webOS styling, taking full advantage of the card system allowing you to open multiple instances at once and create a 'stack'. It is a real standout point if you have a huge need for a well integrated Facebook device and want a physical keyboard.
Internet and Connectivity:
Web browsing is also pretty much unchanged, with full Adobe Flash and multi-touch support. Web pages opened quickly and are rendered well, but again you are limited to viewing them on a small 3.1” screen, so you’ll have to zoom in at times.
Two features carried over from the Verizon Palm Pre Plus are the 3G Mobile Hotspot and VZ Navigator. The Mobile Hotspot turns the Pre 2 into a MiFi type device where up to 5 Wi-Fi enabled devices can connect to it and use Verizon’s EVDO Rev A data network. This can be a useful feature, but costs $20/month for 2GB of data usage. Even though Google Maps is included, it is still limited to only showing your direction’s route on a map or by a list. For real turn-by-turn directions, you’ll have to use the VZ Navigator software, which costs $10/month. The program is easy to use and does have the familiar GPS guided turn-by-turn directions with voice prompts, as well as being able to perform local searches for gas stations, supermarkets, movie theaters, etc.
Camera and Multimedia:
We are glad to see that the camera on the Pre 2 has been updated to a 5MP shooter, but it is still lacking autofocus, which means your subject needs to be at least 3-4 feet away for it to be relatively in-focus. The interface is simple to use, as it only has four on-screen icons for flash (off/auto/on), shutter, gallery, and to toggle between the camera and video recorder, though we wouldn’t mind some advanced options like white balance and ISO. When pressing the shutter icon, it only takes about 1 second to capture and save the image, which is reasonable since it doesn’t have to spend time focusing. Images that we took outside on a bright south Florida day produced good detail and sharp edges with pretty accurate color, though saturation and over-exposure did appear to be too much at times. Still, it is a nice improvement over the Pre Plus for outside images. But when going inside, neither are that great, as there is plenty of noise in low-light images, and the flash is almost useless. For video recording, you are limited to 640x480 VGA resolution, but it does record at 30 fps. Because of the low resolution, videos look a bit grainy and soft, but does show smooth motion.
Verizon Palm Pre 2 Sample Video:
The music playback quality is good, though not as loud as what we heard with the Motorola DROID X. The highest-quality video that the Pre 2 could play was a 720x480 resolution MP4 file with H.264 encoding, which is a decent performance since the Pre Plus was limited to 640x272 video playback. Other H.264 videos with higher-resolutions, such as 800x480, could not play at all and would give an error message. We would like to see more formats supported on the Pre, such as DivX and XviD. The YouTube app also worked great as well, but again limited to the smaller screen size.
1. Mister x (unregistered) posted on 03 Mar 2011, 09:37 2
I am a Palm fan and enjoyed the Preplus. The two glaring omissions are as follows.
Does not support voice activated dialing, (at least I can't find it)
Does not have visual voice mail (from vzw)
Otherwise I love the operating system. Easy to use and I love the tabs which makes it easy to multitask. Both the Preplus and 2 are very good phones, possible the best in the industry. I would agree the X is the ONLY device that gives them a run, and may very well be better. The processory is way faster, and battery life seems to be about 25% better..Looking forward the the Pre 3
2. rayjones09 posted on 11 Mar 2011, 10:50 1
I still would like to use a Palm Pre 2 in person.