That said, we have to give credit to Palm for its connection manager. By simply touching the upper-right-hand corner of the screen, you get instant access to the Pre's connection settings -- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and aeroplane mode -- instead of having to go through several menus, as on the iPhone.
The lack of a physical keyboard deterred some people from buying the iPhone, and many rejoiced when the Pre was announced at CES 2009 with its full Qwerty keyboard. But, with the device in hand, we have to say that we're slightly disappointed. As is the case with the Palm Centro and Palm Treo Pro, the jelly-like buttons are quite small and there's very little spacing between them. In addition, the top row of keys runs right up against the edge of the open cover, so it's easy to bump into it when typing.
We were able to type faster using the Pre's keyboard than the iPhone's, but people with larger thumbs may have problems and, unfortunately, there's no on-screen keyboard option at this point. We took a quick poll of some co-workers and all agreed that the keyboard is small. While most said they could get used to it after a while, several called it a deal-breaker.
Before making any snap judgements, we'd recommend that you give the keyboard a try. While clearly not as easy to use as a BlackBerry or some of Samsung's and Nokia's Qwerty devices, the Pre's keyboard is not completely unusable. Just as with the iPhone's virtual keyboard, with time, you make adjustments, find your groove and ultimately can learn to type quickly. Symbols and numbers share space with the letter keys, and the latter are highlighted in orange. There are no shortcut buttons on the keyboard.
Getting started and data transfer
The first time you boot up the Pre (which takes quite a while), you'll have to set up what's called a Palm Profile. It takes a few moments, but it's worth the wait, since it gives you access to several key services, including backup and restore settings, remote erase in case of a lost or stolen phone, and over-the-air updates. The latter will become important as Palm pushes out firmware updates that include new features and bug fixes for the device.
You'll also get an opportunity to transfer data from any desktop clients or your old smart phone to the Pre. This will be easiest if you're already using Google, Facebook or Microsoft Exchange, since the Synergy software can pull in all your data as soon as you enter your account information.
For those content with using their current desktop app, including iCal and Address Book on a Mac, Palm Desktop or Outlook, there's more work involved. First, you'll be required to set up a Google account. Then you'll need to get a third-party application, such as Google Sync or CompanionLink, to sync your data with the newly created account and then with the Pre. A third-party app (Chapura PocketMirror for Outlook) is also necessary if you want to sync the Pre over a Wi-Fi network to your PC.