PlayBite: Hands-on with the UK/GSM Palm Pre

I’ve just got back from PlayBite in London, a press event organized by PR agency Bite. The mini press-only expo showcased products from a number of consumer tech brands, including Palm. In fact, the event was in part billed as the first chance for UK journalists to get a hands-on with the Palm Pre, and I got to do just that. 

Despite my positive coverage of Palm’s ‘come back’ smartphone, today was the first time I actually got to see the device in person, a whole nine months after it was first announced and three months after it went on sale in the US.

The good news: from my brief hands-on, my initial enthusiasm hasn’t been dampened. This thing is by far the closest to iPhone in terms of user experience – the UI lives to up all the preview videos I’ve watched – and trumps Apple’s iconic device on a number of fronts. Multi-tasking being the most obvious — the card analogy works really well. It’s like Palm has out “Apple’d” Apple. Palm’s Web OS has more than a little Mac OSX to it, which isn’t surprising considering the number of ex-Apple employees who head up the team at Palm.

Update (following questions via Twitter): I tried opening several apps at once (calendar, video player, contacts, music player and dialer) and switching between them. I also tested out ‘Universal Search’ to bring up all mentions of last100 on Twitter. Encouragingly, web browsing and app switching seemed pretty snappy.

On the hardware front, the Palm Pre is a lot more slender and better looking in real life and feels really comfortable in the hand. And, thankfully, the slide out portrait QWERTY keyboard, though small and fairly cramped, was really quite usable. As readers will know, I’m quite fussy about my QWERTY keyboards.

The bad news: still no confirmed UK release date. Just sometime before Christmas.

Interestingly, Palm’s PR firm wouldn’t let me shoot any video of the device. Either way I’m working my socks off trying to secure a review loan so watch this space for a full review of the GSM version of the Palm Pre.


last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

2 Responses to “PlayBite: Hands-on with the UK/GSM Palm Pre”

  1. Anders H. says:

    Thanks for your report. One question: Did it have an expansion card slot?
    Anders H.

  2. Steve O'Hear says:

    It doesn't have an expansion slot but does have 8GB of internal storage.

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