Palm Pre review

Palm's great hope finally makes its debut on UK shores

Palm Pre
The Palm Pre was the most hotly-anticipated phones of 2009 - it is coming to the UK very soon

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We loaded several different kinds of media onto the Palm Pre.

In two cases, the Pre had problems - we loaded the movie The Incredibles as an H.264 video file, and loaded some sample Windows Media files saved as MPEG-4. The Pre was not able to play any of them.

It's supposed to support MPEG-4, H.263 and H.264, so we think with our H.264 movie the file was just too big – at about 1.5GB – to load into memory.

Interestingly though, the Palm Pre does work with iTunes. This feels a bit like loading Windows onto a Mac, and we wondered how Palm was able to get permission to make iTunes think the Pre was just another iPod or iPhone.


ITUNES: The Pre is the first device other than an iPhone to work with iTunes

Once connected, we had no trouble copying hundreds of music files, photos, podcasts, and other media over to the Pre (but not movies or TV shows).

Playback on the device is excellent: the speaker on the back of the unit is large enough for listening in a pinch, and the included earbud headset matches the quality of those included with the iPhone.


MUSIC: Audio performance is fantastic, and the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack is welcome

Thankfully, the Pre has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, so we used both an earbud set (the Denon AH-C700) and hi-fi quality headphones (the Ultrasone HFI-580) and found the Palm Pre to be up to the challenge – music sounded full and rich, not tinny like it does on some smartphones, making the Pre a worthy MP3 player.

For movie playback, the 320x480 screen resolution makes video look sharp, and the screen runs in 24-bit colour so movies also look colourful. (You can only load movies when the Pre is in USB mode, though.)

The actual screen dimensions – about 3.1 inches – mean the size of the screen is a little smaller than the G1 and a finger width shorter than the iPhone, but the benefit is that – at the same resolution – movies actually look a little sharper. You can't record movies with the Pre, which is a problem since that is the new exceptional feature of the iPhone 3Gs.


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John Brandon

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.