The Boy Genius’ hands-on review of Palm Pre: ‘Feels like a Fisher Price toy; disappointing keyboard’

The Boy Genius Report has conducted a hands-on review of Palm’s Pre.

“The screen is where the Palm Pre shines. Selections take little to no effort and there’s that oh-so-magical water ripple effect when actually touching the display. It’s vibrant, rich and all around really clear. Like we said in our Pre-view (har, har), we’d rate it just behind the iPhone’s glass capacitive touch screen — it’s that close to being perfection,” The Boy Genius reports.

“Keyboard: It’s really not good. My hands aren’t that big (I can type faster than you could ever dream on a BlackBerry, iPhone or E71) and my thumb literally takes up 3 or 4 keys on the keyboard,” The Boy Genius reports. “It’s really such an important area that couldn’t afford to be messed with and we’ll admit it… we’re a little let down… this is kind of disappointing… You can’t compete with RIM in the keyboard area and you can’t compete with Apple in the soft-keyboard area, so how are people going to enjoy using your product when the data entry isn’t perfection? It’s like buying a brand new Ferrari, but getting an Accord steering wheel.”

“Feel: This is an important area when designing a phone,” The Boy Genius reports. “To be honest, the device feels a little cheap. The edges of the bottom piece are sharp on the back of the screen and even worse, when sliding it up and down, the top part that houses the screen will sometimes catch on itself. It feels good in your hand, but the actual build quality really leaves a lot to be desired. One of our friends that checked it out over here said it felt like a Fisher Price toy.”

“WebOS itself is off to a great start we think,” The Boy Genius reports. “It will be interesting to see how developers try to take advantage of the operating system, yet we can’t help but feel it’s going to be iPhone web apps all over again until Palm releases an SDK that lets everyone (not just special partners) access areas of the OS that are needed to create applications that aren’t just ‘fluff.'”

“Battery life: We haven’t been able to really put this thing through the ringer in regards to battery life… The browser for the most part renders pages properly and pretty quickly. It took around 15-20 seconds to pull up BGR over Sprint’s EV-DO connection but navigating is a little bit of a problem. We found that zooming in and out didn’t produce a smooth effect, rather it simply increased the size of the page sort of how Internet Explorer zooms in,” TBG reports. “Applications: To be honest, there weren’t too many applications to explore here. The App Catalog was empty so we were left scrounging around anything that’s preloaded.”

“Palm has done a masterful job of crafting and molding the hype factor, but there seems to be an underlying issue. In being so secretive, they’ve let people’s imaginations run wild and expectations couldn’t possibly be higher,” TBG reports. “The OS is great… it’s really refreshing to see something that’s brand new with a UI unlike anything else out there. The only problem with this is, Palm’s never been a hardware company that anyone’s really cared about. They have been the furthest thing from innovative since circa-2003 — their hardware has always been second rate at best and it doesn’t seem to be changing now. Couple that with the nation’s underdog carrier at a $299 price-point (before rebate), and we’re not sure how many people are going to be lined up overnight…”

Read the full review, with stills and more info, here.

MacDailyNews Take: Those who want a device with a screen that’s not as good as the current or previous iteration of the iPhone, with a lousy mechanical keyboard, that feels like “a Fisher Price toy,” offers no apps to speak of, and resides exclusively on also-ran carriers in the few countries in which it is available can begin lining up now.

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