The early buzz is favorable for the Palm Pre, the vendor's new smart phone that is earning praise from reviewers who've had a chance to play with it. The device, which combines a touch screen with a slide-out QWERY keyboard, was introduced yesterday at CES 2009 in Las Vegas. The Pre features Palm's much-anticipated Web OS operating system, and will be available on the Sprint 3G network in the first half of 2009.
Engadget applauded the "grace and simplicity" of the Pre's interface, which it says "outclasses most of its competition on a number of levels, and actually may be quite a bit more revolutionary than the iPhone." No small praise there.
Gizmodo called the Pre "simply amazing" and said the device may be "the most important handset to be announced in two years." The software, screen quality, and camera earned the strongest praise, but the hardware design could be better, wrote reviewer Adrian Covert.
MobileDevicesToday also gave kudos to the user interface: "The UI is smooth and works pretty seamlessly as they've showed. Palm's always understood how to do a good mobile UI and it's clear that they've applied everything they've learned over the years to this device and platform," wrote Michael Gartenberg.
Other reviewers focused on Palm's well-publicized financial woes, and suggested that the Pre may give the struggling company a much-needed shot in the arm. Blogging live from the Palm press conference in Vegas, Ryan Block wrote "there's little doubt that Palm is back in a big way, and that this OS and device have the potential to make up for many of their missteps over the last five years."
Some pundits, however, question whether Palm can pull of a successful comeback. Om Malik of GigaOM, who admits that he's tempted to try out the Pre, wonders if the smart phone is really an iPhone killer. "I don't think Pre has done anything to move the needle forward," he writes. "In a market where the iPhone sets the pace, Palm is woefully behind the curve."
These are all just first impressions, of course, as nobody's gotten a chance to fully test the Palm Pre yet. So is the smart phone an iPhone killer? Stay tuned.