HP took the wraps off the Palm Pre 2 this week, giving the world its first official look at the next smartphone running the webOS. I think it’s safe to say that this device won’t be what a lot of people are hoping for… including me.
The Pre 2 is going to be a moderately updated version of its predecessor. It will have the same basic design, but with a faster processor and a few other tweaks.
To understand my unhappiness with this device, you only have to look back at the fate of the original Pre, a smartphone that sold so poorly that it forced Palm to do something it had been hoping to avoid: sell itself to HP.
Great Software, Bad Hardware
What makes this situation frustrating is that HP has a great product: the webOS. But this operating system is being totally hobbled by bad hardware.
The Pre doesn’t offer two of the most important features customers are looking for these days: a large screen and/or a keyboard that’s easy to type on. And the Pre 2 won’t either. A device with a 3.1-inch HVGA display and a tiny keyboard simply can’t compete.
This model has to go up against the Motorola Droid X, which has a 4.3-inch WVGA display. It also has to face off with the Samsung Epic 4G, which has a keyboard about twice the size of Pre’s.
Palm should have tossed out the entire design for the Pre and gone with a slider with a landscape-oriented keyboard and a screen that’s at least 3.5 inches… and preferably larger.
There’s little room for doubt that the Palm Pre 2 is going to be a dud, but I still have hope for the future of the webOS.
Rahul Sood, the head of HP’s gaming business, has become the company’s chief evangelist for this platform. He said recently that HP “is committed to delivering webOS on a wide range of devices” over the next twelve months.
Sood went on to say, “The stuff that excites me the most are the new form factors.” I have to agree with him, I’m also excited about seeing the webOS running on devices other than the Pre 2.
Palm did a great job with the webOS. It’s both very powerful and easy to use. I’m looking forward to the day it’s not hobbled by a small screen and an almost unusable keyboard.
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