At the January 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the executives from Palm Inc. were feeling the pressure. The company that created the pioneering Palm Pilot “personal digital assistant,” was facing a skeptical press corps. The Pilot was a faded if fond memory, and Palm’s once-darling Treo (until a few years ago the smartphone of choice for businesspeople) had grown tired next to Apple’s iPhone and Research in Motion’s ever-friendlier BlackBerry.
As a result, Palm’s business was reeling. The product they were about to introduce would go a long way toward making or breaking the company.
That product, of course, was the Pre. And when the press conference ended, there was widespread agreement that Palm had unveiled something special, a pocket computer extraordinaire.
In designing the Pre, Palm borrowed many of the best elements of the iPhone while addressing some of its shortcomings—and adding a lot of its own mojo in the process (see Chapter 2’s coverage of the Pre’s multitasking talents, for example).
Where the iPhone offers an onscreen “virtual” keyboard, the Pre has a physical keyboard, a godsend if you’ve ever struggled with the iPhone’s hit-or-miss keys.
When an iPhone’s battery peters out, you have to find an Apple store for a replacement. Swapping out a spent battery in the Pre is as simple as opening the back and making the switch (and you can carry a spare with you just in case).
Photo-wise, the iPhone isn’t so bright; it lacks a flash. The Pre includes a flash, so you never take a picture in the dark.
In most other respects, the Pre has all the makings of a state-of-the-art palm-sized PC: tilt and proximity sensors, access to fast phone and WiFi networks, GPS capability, and a slick music and video player.
Palm spent a lot of time thinking about the way you interact with the Pre, too. It has a fabulous new universal search feature that yields results the moment you start typing, and an interface that lets you switch among applications as though you were shuffling a deck of cards. And as befits any organizer from Palm, the Pre boasts a terrific calendar, address book, and task list.
The Pre has another unique feature: It’s always connected to the Internet, reflecting Palm’s belief in the emerging importance of the Web as a communications hub and access point for online programs. The smartphone puts that connection to good use with a clever organizing tool that Palm calls Synergy. Synergy collects and coordinates personal information—your contacts, email accounts, IM addresses, calendar appointments, and so on—from many sources over the Web and brings them together in one logical place—in a consolidated Contacts folder, for example, or in a single Email application that handles all your accounts. Chapter 3 has the details.
And if you need still more versatility, Palm built the Pre on a foundation of widely accepted programming standards. That means that individuals and companies can quickly create new applications—from multimedia tools to social networks. At the time this book was written, Palm still had a lot of catching up to do when it came to the App Catalog, where it sells these programs or makes them available for free (see Appendix B). The online store is still in a test phase, but its future looks bright.
Oh, and there’s one more thing you shouldn’t overlook: The Pre makes a darn good cellphone.
Technology has come a long way through the years, but the same can’t be said for instruction manuals. Many companies eschew printed instructions altogether or have moved user guides to inconvenient electronic PDF documents and/or the Internet. Even if you land in the right place, these materials don’t exactly read like whodunits. And that’s assuming you can read them at all. In some instances, manuals are poorly translated from another language or written by engineers for engineers.
The Palm Pre comes with a Get Started pamphlet and a Features guide, but these lack the depth, perspective, objectivity, and (when you need it most) the dab of humor you deserve. That’s the purpose of this book—to serve as the manual that should have been in the box. In its pages, you’ll find step-by-step instructions for every Pre feature and tips on how to get the most out of it. The pretty pictures sprinkled throughout help, too.
Palm Pre: The Missing Manual is divided into five parts:
Part I, Getting to Know the Pre, shows you around the design of the device, down to its buttons, controls, slick new interface, and navigational gestures.
Part II, Getting in Touch with Others, covers all things relating to phone calls, plus you’ll learn to manage calendars, keep track of tasks, and jot down memos.
Part III, Going Online, tells you how to connect to cyberspace, browse the Web, and stay on top of email, text messaging, picture messaging, and instant messaging.
Part IV, Music, Video, and Images, is about playing music, watching videos, and taking and admiring pictures.
Part V, Appendixes, includes helpful references for activating the phone, buying programs from the App Catalog, and finding fixes in the event that your Pre misbehaves.
Throughout this book and the Missing Manual series, you’ll find sentences like this one: “Go to the Calendar program’s application menu, tap Preferences & Accounts→Default Event Duration, and then tap either 30 minutes or 2 hours. The arrows are simply shorthand for a much longer sequence of instructions, like this: “Open the Calendar’s application menu and tap on the menu command “Preferences & Accounts”. On the screen that pops up, tap the option “Default Event Duration”, and then, on the next menu, tap either 30 minutes or 2 hours.” Don’t worry: This notation will make sense once you see it in action.
At www.missingmanuals.com, you’ll find articles, tips, and updates to Palm Pre: The Missing Manual. In fact, we invite and encourage you to submit such corrections and updates yourself. In an effort to keep the book as up to date and accurate as possible, each time we print more copies, we’ll make any confirmed corrections you’ve suggested. We’ll also note such changes on the website, so you can mark important corrections in your own copy of the book if you like. (Go to http://missingmanuals.com/feedback, choose the book’s name from the pop-up menu, and then click Go to see the changes.)
Also on our Feedback page, you can get expert answers to questions that come to you while reading this book, write a book review, and find groups for folks who share your interest in the Palm Pre. We’d love to hear your suggestions for new books in the Missing Manual line. There’s a place for that on missingmanuals.com, too.
And while you’re online, you can register this book at www.oreilly.com (you can jump directly to the registration page by going here: http://tinyurl.com/yo82k3). Registering means that we can send you updates about this book, and you’ll be eligible for special offers like discounts on future editions of Palm Pre: The Missing Manual.
As you read the book’s chapters, you’ll find references to websites that offer additional information. To get a neat, chapter-by-chapter list of all the materials cited here, head to the Missing CD page for this book. To get there, go to the Missing Manuals home page (www.missingmanuals.com), click the “Missing CD-ROMs” link on the left side, and then scroll down to Palm Pre: The Missing Manual and click the “Missing CD” link.
While you’re on the Missing CD page, you can find updates to this book by clicking the link labeled “View Errata for this book” at the top of the page. You’re invited and encouraged to submit corrections and updates, too. To do so, click the “Submit your own Errata” link.
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