Inspecting gadgets

ACN rounds up the latest and greatest executive gadgets, from electronic book readers to the latest in touchscreen mobile phones.

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By  Imthishan Giado Published  February 7, 2009

Palm Pre

Of all the erstwhile competitors that have appeared to challenge Apple's much-vaunted iPhone over the years, Palm seems the least likely to succeed.

The creator of the iconic Palm Pilot has found itself under assault in recent years, unable to fend the twin threats of RIM's enterprise e-mail offering or Apple's multimedia excellence. Recent devices like the 650 or 700 have achieved some acceptance in the States, but little worldwide impact.

That may very well be about to change with the introduction of Palm's touchscreen Pre, which features a new operating system known as WebOS designed to access the full range of Internet content available.

While the ‘desktop' looks similar in appearance to the iPhone, WebOS provides running applications rather than shortcuts - so users can work directly off their home screen, instead of waiting for programs to open.

Messaging has also received an overhaul - rather than separate inboxes for SMS and e-mail, WebOS organises them by contact, allowing users to track message streams regardless of the method of transmission.

The hardware underlying this effort is reasonable but not outstanding: a 3.1" 320x480 touchscreen with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Multimedia mavens are served by a 3 megapixel camera, GPS, Wi-Fi and 8Gbytes of internal memory.

There is one interesting bit - the Pre's charger is inductive, so users need to only leave the handset near it for the battery to be recharged - something we certainly haven't seen before in a mobile phone.

The Pre is a solid effort and in our opinion, the first phone to have a real shot at challenging the iPhone's dominance.

The simple but robust UI, solid feature-set and organisation pedigree place it as a real alternative to the ubiquitous BlackBerry in the enterprise space - but only time will tell if the Pre will become the hit that Palm hopes for.

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