Six months ago, I attended one of several Palm Pre launch parties in the United States. The first device to launch using webOS, it was revolutionary, and was billed as Palm's much needed comeback. Out of the gate, there were things I loved about the Palm Pre, and to a greater extent, webOS. Between the cards feature, the ability to multitask, the concept of wireless charging, and more, it was a much-hyped new player to the market. I remember spending half of the evening playing with it in the hotel room prior to returning home.
So, six months later, what's changed? In addition to numerous software updates (the Pre and Pixi now run webOS 1.3.1 and 1.3.2, respectively), there have been several minor improvements along the way. In my testing, battery life seems to have improved, and overall responsiveness has improved. The Palm App Catalog, though still behind its competitors, is at approximately 400 apps (versus six at launch, if I remember correctly).
Perhaps the most notable change since the launch is the November introduction of the Palm Pixi. With two webOS-enabled devices on the market, Palm is able to appeal to different demographics, something which should boost sales as time goes on (and as new models are released). Lacking Wi-Fi connectivity, the faster processor of the Pre, and the Pre's 3.2-inch display, Pixi is clearly intended as an entry-level smartphone.
PhoneDog's President and Business Manager picked up the Palm Pre on launch day back in June, and I asked them what they thought about the device after six months of continuous use. This is what they had to say:
Rebecca, Business Manager
After owning the Palm Pre when it first launched, here's my take on a comparison between it and the Pixi:
Design - Tie
I can't really give a solid score here, as the overall design is going to depend on the person purchasing the device. While I love the Pre's 3.2-inch screen, the Pixi's simplistic candybar design is thin and less prone to issues in the long run.
Speed - Pre
In a nutshell, the Pre is noticeably faster than the Pixi. Sure, both have occasional delays when loading programs (particularly if numerous cards are open), but the Pixi's is far more noticeable.
Touch Input - Pixi
The Palm Pixi's touchscreen gesture area is far better than the Palm Pre's. Each time I would access something on the Pixi, it responded the first time. With the Pre, I found that unless you rolled your finger over the "pearl" ball perfectly each time, it wouldn't respond. Not the case with the Pixi.
Screen - Pre
The Pre has an advantage here, with a 3.2-inch screen in comparison to the Pixi's 2.63-inch display.
Keyboard - Pixi
To me, the keyboard is far more tactile on the Pixi, with an audible click when each key is pressed. While the Pre has a decent keyboard, I often had trouble typing on the side keys due to their proximity to the raised edges.
Battery Life - Pixi
Despite improvements with each OS revision, neither device has impeccable battery life. That being said, the Pixi does hold an advantage over the Pre. After subjecting both to moderate use over the past week, I was able to get just over four more hours out of the Pixi.
There's no doubt in my mind - webOS is a player in the field. If Palm continues to issue software updates in a timely manner (which I view as them responding to user complaints) and release devices with innovative form factors, I don't see them going anywhere anytime soon.