Technology analysis of the latest gadgets, consoles, and computer architectures.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Palm Pre

I've fallen really far behind documenting revolutionary computing solutions, and the Palm Pre is one of them. For those of you wondering why I don't have an iPhone yet...well, despite the popularity of the App Store, Apple is still very slow about adding features I'm really interested in to their platform. For example, why is it that they still have not come out with a 32GB iPhone? Why did Google just announce the ability to sync calendar and contacts directly to the phone? And why is it that I can't customize the lock screen (without jailbreaking)?

Anyhow, enough complaining about the iPhone, let me just brief you on the Palm Pre and why I think it's worth a great deal of attention.

- Magnetic induction charging technology
- All data syncs over the air (this is big because i really don't like docking my phone anymore, and haven't for years except for backup purposes)
- "Deck of Cards" style GUI (more on this later)
- WebOS, resulting in all applications using Web 2.0 APIs
- Has a keyboard that recesses into the device

Unfortunately, they are only including 8GB of flash (and no expandable storage). But despite the fact that I refused to buy the iPhone until a 32GB version came out, I don't really care much that the Palm Pre doesn't have enough storage for music. And that is because the Palm Pre is designed to be an always-connected device, while the iPhone is designed to be more like a portable computer. As much as I appreciate the graphics capabilities of the iPhone, I think more effort should be put to bring the platform more closely tied to the net. And despite the iPhone supporting full desktop APIs, I appreciate that Palm is trying to bring application developers to designing local web-based applications.

In order to address the GUI, I have to bring up my current (personal and job) workstation tendancies. At work, I use an 8 virtual desktop setup (using Virtual Dimension). I devote a desktop for source code, a desktop for all of my Cygwin instances, a desktop for CRTs to my board(s), two desktops for web browsers (one for personal and one for work), a desktop for email, a desktop for Microsoft Office documents, and a desktop for misc remote tasks. I have found myself to be extremely productive with this setup.

I was really excited when Apple finally introduced virtual desktops to OS X 10.5 (termed as "Spaces"). I started out with 8 on my personal laptop, which had a similar configuration for work, except that I had a music space instead of CRTs, and I had one for virtual machines. Two weeks ago, I switched to 12 desktops with the following setup: 3 horizontal spaces for web browsers and other web-based tools, another set of 3 horizontal spaces for email, pdfs/images, and ical, another set of 3 for music, chat, and microsoft office, and another set of 3 for virtual machines, remote desktop, and terminals. And I have to say, I did breath a sigh of relief once I expanded my desktop configuration, and I just love having multiple desktops.

So now you can understand why I would love that approach on a mobile device. Being able to configure certain spaces for email, web browsing, chat, and music makes it very easy to use and find the tasks that I need instantly. Multitasking becomes a breese, and my stress level goes down a notch. So despite the fact that the iPhone is more of a multimedia device and the Palm Pre is designed to be a communcation device, I would much prefer the communication device with media capabilities. As a result, I am really looking forward to the Palm Pre.

For more, check out the Palm Pre CES Press Event and watch a primary contributor to the iPod design present the Palm Pre.