Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Palm Pre vs HTC Hero Part 3

A while back, I wrote two comparison reviews of my experiences with the Palm Pre and the HTC Hero. They are available here and here.

I track the hits on my blog. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom you'll see a little green square from sitemeter. Go ahead and click on it. You'd be surprised at how much information it contains.(For those of you reading this on facebook, click on "view original post" then scroll to the bottom)

It turns out that those two posts are the most popular posts on my blog... by a *HUUGE* margin. Prior to these posts, I had maybe 200 visits in that little green box. And it took a couple of *years* to get to that.  Since I made those posts in November (a mere 2 months), I have nearly 7000 visits! So, as a follow-up (and also a way to generate more hits) I'm writing my reactions a few months later.

I was never able to convince Sprint to let me swap out my Palm Pre for an HTC Hero. I really wanted to do that. I was tired of the problems that I was having w/the Pre and needed something that was going to work more reliably for me. In retrospect I'm glad that it didn't happen.  In the 2 months since I did that experiment, WebOS has advanced by leaps and bounds.  I was on WebOS 1.2.1 when I wrote those. Since then 1.3.1, 1.3.5 and have been released. Each has come incremental improvements, but most notably:
  1. Battery life is a little bit better overall, but *MUCH* better when using WIFI at home. I can easily get one full day out of a single charge if I stayed on wifi all the time. Easily. Whereas it used to be a struggle to get through a day.
  2. I don't remember which release brought it (I think it was 1.3.1) but the calendar is a lot faster now. It's become usable.
  3. 3D games are available. I have purchased only 2: Asphalt 5 and Let's Golf. Both of which are great fun.
  4. The number of apps in the app catalog has grown rapidly. Back then I think there were around 500 apps. As of right now, the number is 1348. They hit 1000 apps on Dec 31 right before the new year. 348 apps in a month is very encouraging.  And some of the apps that are coming out are very clever.  I'm particularly fond of GeoStrings which has saved me from forgetting a honey-do task on several occasions.
  5. Palm has announced that 2 things will be available in the 1.4 WebOS release in February: video recording and Adobe Flash support. Video recording is a big deal to me. I really miss that feature from my centro. Flash brings things that I've wanted to get on my phone: mostly access to audio & video that I would normally have to use a computer to access.
Those things have made me quite a bit more pleased w/my Pre than I was in November. That said there are still things that I wish this phone could do better:
  • Battery life while not on Wifi is still attrociuos. I carry a spare battery and it's annoying that I have to frequently use it.
  • The OS speed is better but it can still get really really laggy. I hope that they will run all the animations through the GPU to improve performance.
  • The Tasks application is still bad. I have no way to set a recurring task - like (for example) reminding myself to take out the garbage every Monday night. But of course once it's done it should stop reminding me until next week!
  • There are a couple of visual voicemail applications available (here and here). But both are hacks that rely on using a 3rd party voicemail service - which, to Sprint's credit is easy to set up. However, I really want to see direct supported visual voicemail from Sprint on this device similar to the way it works in Android. It's much more reliable than either of the available visual voicemail apps.
  • There are still no voice recording or voice recognition features. Something that I *really* liked on android.
  • I still dislike gestures. Others seem to absolutley love them. But I find them unreliable. When I want to go back, I want to go back immediately. I don't want to swipe at the screen and only convince the phone that I'm going back 9 out of 10 times. This is too basic of a function. 90% is too low of a success rate. The 10% failure rate is like a giant black splotch on a pure white wall. Of course, this is not something that can be fixed in software.
All of that said, at this point, my assessment of Hero vs Pre is not as lopsided as it was 2 months ago. It's a coin flip with a lean towards the Pre due to it's potential.