Palm Pre 2 Review
With HP webOS 2.0 on board (the new name for webOS 2.0), the Palm Pre 2 ticks along much faster than the original Pre and Pixi, and looks more refined in the process with some visual tweaks applied to the same core experience. In turn, what you get in the Palm Pre 2 is a slick looking multi-tasking champion with a real focus on productivity and connectivity.
With every touch of the Palm Pre 2 is a visual ripple effect on-screen, both looking cool and letting you know your touch has been registered. 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 can be customized by holding an icon and dragging it in/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.
HP webOS 2.0 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, others are more specific and may use the gesture area. 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.
Palm's approach to account management involves grabbing all your accounts such as email, Facebook and LinkedIn amongst others, and importing what you want onto your phone, be it contacts, calendar, messaging (Gchat for example) and email.
Activity cards occupy the home screen and support the Palm Pre 2's multi-tasking experience, enabling the user to flip through them to quickly switch 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.
Just Type is an evolution of Palm's universal search. By simply typing into HP webOS 2.0, 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.
Phonebook, Messaging and Organizer:
The Palm Pre 2 will aggregate contacts, messages and calendar data from sources of your choice and will sync as you see fit. It really is a pleasure to set everything up and watch all your contacts populate the device. Our one recommendation would be that the initial set-up should be done with a strong connection such as Wi-Fi, as the device tends to hang when syncing, and caused us a couple of problems when initially syncing over 3G.
The Dialler can be accessed in two forms, both of which are easy to use and intuitive. Your first option is to use the 10 keys on the QWERTY keypad, assembled to make a standard shaped 3x3 dialler with a '0' below. Just type a number in and you are given the option to call, text or save it. The other option comes in the form of an on-screen dialler accessed through the phone shortcut on the quick launch bar. In turn, contacts can either be thumbed through, or accessed directly by typing in their name from the homescreen, a very intuitive and practical approach, omitting the need to go through a phonebook.
Text messages appear in conversation view which is great. Naturally, the form factor of the Palm Pre 2 lends itself to texting, and HP webOS 2.0 does a good job of backing the hardware up with a simple, attractive messaging system. Another great feature is the chat support. With the text messaging window having the title "Conversations", to the right is a 2nd title, "Buddies". Select this to open up your web chat contacts. Gchat was what we were using, though there is also support for AIM and it worked flawlessly, leaving us pleased with the varieties of communication integrated into the Palm Pre 2, and more specifically HP webOS 2.0. It nevertheless would have been nice to see new services natively offered that weren't available in the original webOS such as Windows Live messaging or Skype.
Emailing is also a real forte of the Palm Pre 2. As mentioned, once our email accounts were set up, the phone soon populated with our emails and just required a username and password to do so for major providers. Additional mailboxes will require a bit more info, but worked very smoothly once set up.
The Pre supports IMAP IDLE, allowing for nearly instant email notification from providers (such as Gmail) which support the technology. The user can configure several email accounts and choose to see a unified inbox or view each account separately.
As with your contacts, the Palm Pre 2 brings all of your calendars together and offers a layered view. If you prefer to see them separately the phone allows for that as well. The calendar is as full featured as you would imagine, allowing for recurrences, reminders and everything else. Long appointments crumple like an accordion and expand when selected. There are even some neat extra functions, such as displaying free time in between appointments.