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Palm does not deliver on every single promise with the Pre, but the device will certainly find a sizable niche and appeal to anyone in the UK already on O2 (and perhaps getting bored of the iPhone).
In some ways the world is not ready for all of the web integration the phone could have offered.
There are just shades and shards of things to come: you can use one calendar to see your upcoming schedule in Google Calendar and Microsoft Exchange/Outlook, instead of the more common multi-calendar approach, but you can't use Yahoo Calendar (not yet, anyway).
You can start typing just about anything – a contact name or an app name, for example – and the Palm Pre will start searching, but you can't search the browser history.
There are finer details you discover over time: when you type a contact name that is not on your phone, the Pre shows you links for sites like Wikipedia and Google to explore that name.
Yet, the smartphone avoids over-reaching – you'll see Facebook integration and Twitter apps, but Palm avoided less popular social networks like Bebo.
It's really a taste of what a grown-up Web OS on your PC will look like, where standards such as OpenSocial, OAuth, and HTML5 start behaving like Windows, where apps communicate with each other and you log in just once to the web and then use all of your apps and access data as you do in Windows.
You might have to pry the Palm Pre from our hands – we definitely liked using it, and the interface is a joy to use once you understand how it works and figure out all the tricks.
We're power users – we like being able to multi-task the apps, running an IM app in the background while we type an email and check SMS, for example. The multi-tasking allure might wear off eventually, but for now we are hooked on it.
The keyboard is just okay - it is too curved and too small for any really long typing sessions. The device is not as well-constructed as the iPhone – the plastic feels like it could crack too easily. And, we were disappointed by the battery life, even though we did not expect too much from a media phone.
In the end, this is what makes the Palm Pre so compelling, and a better choice for savvy computer users than the Apple iPhone or even the highly extensible T-Mobile G1. It's a new mobile computing paradigm more than a highly useful phone.
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John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.