Palm Pre 2 Review
The camera on the Palm Pre 2 is an improvement over the original Pre at 5 MP, however, it still lacks auto-focus and doesn't shine when compared to other camera phones currently on the market. Colours tend to look dull and under-saturated, and detail is lacking, especially in close up shots or low light conditions. Exposure is generally good as is dynamic range, however, noise becomes a real issue very quickly as the sun sets or the indoor lights dim. In turn, night time shots are a no-no and indoor shots benefit monumentally from good lighting. While the flash does a pretty good job of lighting up subjects, it still doesn't compensate for the sensor's propensity to produce a lot of noise. In turn, the Palm Pre 2 delivers strictly mediocre imaging, however our biggest gripe with the device's camera functionality is the inability to change any settings beyond flash function and capture mode.
Video is captured at VGA resolution and offers the same high and lowlights mentioned in the stills department as far as image quality is concerned. Again, you cannot adjust any features beyond capture mode, and despite the LED flash on board, cannot activate it as a video light which is a shame.
Palm Pre 2 Sample Video:
The music player itself is both polished and predictable. You can sort by Artist, Album, Song, Genre, or Playlist. It is very reminiscent of the iPod and BlackBerry interface function-wise, but with its own visual uniqueness. The player can of course be sent to the background, and from the notification area the user can control playback.
Video playback is very similar to touchscreen interfaces we’ve seen in the past. Tapping the screen will toggle on-screen controls, otherwise the video plays at full screen. Both H.264 and MPEG4 part2 format played flawlessly, delivering very good image quality. There is a YouTube app pre-installed, which is great and while the interface isn't the cleanest out there, it's still simple enough to browse through.
With full Flash support and multi-touch onboard the the HP webOS 2.0 browser, not only can you pinch to zoom until your fingers tingle, but you can also experience the web as it was intended. We had no problems opening any webpage quickly, and with dual band-3G (quad-band GSM) and Wi-Fi on-board, a fast internet connection should be available nearly all the time. Flash videos are nowhere near as playable as on Android devices, so don't expect the smoothest experience of online streaming video services such as HULU or BBC iPlayer, but most other flash content was a pleasure to behold.
With a GPS on board and Google Maps pre-loaded, out of the box, the Palm Pre 2 is an all in one solution. Satellites found the unit in about 30 seconds and it kept our location pretty accurately throughout a 15 minute journey by car. One point to note however is the impact both GPS and 3G have on battery life in contrast to standard usage, so if you're planning a long trip - bring a car charger.
The Palm Pre 2 is pretty good on the software front out of the box, with Quickoffice on board as well as a YouTube app and PDF viewer. There is also one of the best Facebook apps we've used on-board, with support for chat, very smooth operation and seamless integration into the HP webOS styling, taking full advantage of the OS's cards 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.
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. Nevertheless, our app experience with the Palm Pre 2 was hit and miss, with our music app of choice (Spotify) crashing the unit at the log-in screen (even after 3 reinstalls and trying it on two devices), and some key apps not being present (like an official Twitter client). In turn, app support gets a 6/10, though the rest of the Palm Pre 2 definitely pick this up.