Nicely enough, the store was incredibly gracious (Thanks guys!) and within 20 minutes I had the hot little object in my hand going through the tutorial. So, an hour later, when I caught up with my brother and his brood, I was deeply engrossed with the Pre.
Love at first site (yes, site)
Initially, I was enamored. The new cards interface, the interactions within the browser and interface elements (form elements and navigation) are incredibly familiar from using my friend's iPhones. As I played with the Pre, it became evident that the Pre interface had things that I did not see how to address - such as how to take a picture (since my camera app seems to be having problems).
So while you can read all sorts of great posts on the Pre (which I agree with them all), I have my issues with the Pre:
Help Info is "slow"
When I discovered that the camera was not working as advertised in the excellent reviews, I started looking for information on how to use the camera. I started with the documentation in the box (which was limited to gestures and other high-level options) and then went to the Help documentation. Since the docs are online, the speed of the Sprint network seem to impact the access to the Help documentation. Took me a bit of time to find the info (since there is no Search option within the documentation), which made me a little disappointed in learning how to use the phone through the documentation.
-1 point for the increasing difficulty to use the Pre
Camera App is "flaky"
Since I heard that the Pre had a 3.2M pixel camera, I chose to to leave my standard Canon IXUS at home as I headed to my cousin's bat mitzvah. While in the car, I tried to use the Pre camera and wondered why I could not take a photo. I would choose the camera icon, a grey screen would show up, the camera icon would sit in the middle of the screen and sit for 20 seconds, then would go dark and restart the campera app. Twenty seconds later, the camera app would end, restart and go through the sequence one more time until the phone went dark based on the power settings.
After wondering if I had done something wrong, I discovered how to kill the app (toss it north) and tried a couple of times, I thought "Maybe there is an update" and I checked for updates and downloaded the 1.0.2 update on to the phone. Much later, after the webOS 1.0.2 update was installed, I tested the app - and still the same behavior.
Later in the evening, just on a whim, I would try the app. One time out of five, the camera app suddenly worked. And yes, the photos are gorgeous. But still, I have no camera on the Pre.
-2 points for a flaky app or driver management
Pre web browser has weird quirks
The web browser is very similar to what I have seen on the iPhone - full page support, zoom in, zoom out - all of the things that make the iPhone mobile experience wonderful (heck, I even can use the x.facebook.com interface for iPhone, the m.facebook.com interface for WAP browsers and the www.facebook.com interface for normal browsers. But, the Pre web browser has some other quirks:
- Strange reflection of a short page on the lower third of the page
When I logged into twitter via their Login link, the top part of the browser shows the login div - but the lower part (2/3rds) should be blank. Instead, there is a stretched out version of the login div in the lower third of the browser. And this is not only on twitter, I also saw it on the opening page of Spymaster.
- Form elements do not expand to access the hidden parts of the content within
On the Blazer browser, if you entered more text into the form field that was visible, the browser would become an editable text field that showed up on the lower third of the page. You could modify any portion of the text that was entered - and did not need arrow navigation to get anywhere, since you could point to the needed correction. Now, with the Pre web browser, you find yourself having to make sure you type everything correctly, or you have to refresh a page if you make a mistake and need to edit character 23 in a 20 character visible field - when the text has already exceeded 25 characters.
- On mobile sites, the browser does not support number shortcuts
On the Blazer browser and other WAP browsers, mobile site designers could set up a situation where, if the browser sensed a number being pressed, it would act as if the link was hit that was tied to the number key (see this action on the mobile version of twitter, Yahoo! Mail and Facebook). Now, when you hit a number key on the Pre web browser, the browser thinks youa re typing a new URL - which makes shortcutting difficult. Additionally, on mobile twitter, hitting the aforementioned number shortcut link via a finger touch changed the page - but has the page still at the same location on the browser (the page does nto refresh with the start at the top of the page).
Charging up the phone is a bit cumbersome
One of the comments I heard on some blogs was the fact that the Touchstone charger might be an extravagance for $80. But, after trying to charge up my phone a couple of times, I can see why they did the Touchstone. If you try to plug in the USB cable into the phone, you have to work the cover off of the mini jack, which I will bet wears out eventually. Additionally, you need to know that the mini jack has to be inserted in only one position, you might accidentially insert it into the Pre upside down. To extend the life of the cover, you should get the Touchstone recharger.
-1 point for product issues
Now, all of these issues are not critical - and will more than likely be addressed soon. But it is funny - I was one of the people who got a treo 650 when it came out, and went through 19 (yes, nineteen) returns to the Sprint store (because Sprint at the time did not have a solid tech support for the treo smartphones).
I have only had the phone for a single day (not even 12 hours yet) so i will continue to learn more about the phone as I use it.
I am happy to be a guinea pig for the Pre (and the new one), as I was for the treo 755p and the Centro - but please fix the phone. I want to love this device - I have waited almost two years.