Sprint Insider Clarifies Many Palm Pre Details
In what appears to be a fairly legitimate-sounding post, a large bit of new Pre info has just appeared on a blog site entitled the Inside Sprint Now blog. The anonymous blogger claims to be a Sprint/Nextel customer care representative and acting in no way on behalf of Sprint or Palm.
While too lengthy to cover in full here, a great deal of interesting information is clarified, confirmed and revealed in this mammoth update. So assuming the blog and the latest post's contents are 100% accurate, a number of interesting details are covered, including:
- As we reported earlier, the "Touchstone" moniker is confirmed to apply to a line of products, not just the induction desktop charger seen at CES.
- A "Palm Profile" is created during the user's initial setup process. This is almost undoubtedly the cloud-based services mention in Palm's past SEC filings and possibly related to last year's quite closure of the MyPalm portal and the beta Palm Backup app for legacy Garnet-based devices.
- A Sprint "Simply Everything" plan IS required. SERO plans are not supported and the phone will apparently not support tethering (aka "Phone as Modem").
- A maximum of eight (EAS, POP, or IMAP) email accounts are supported by the native e-mail application.
- As promised by Palm reps at CES, a one-way "Data Transfer Assistant" will firtunatey be available for importing legacy Palm OS PIM data. The blog author stresses that this is not a 2-way Hotsync as done in the day of yore. After being imported onto the Pre, the user's PIM data can either reside solely on the Pre or can then be synchronized to a cloud-based account such as Google Contacts but cannot be sent back to the old Palm Desktop application.
- The automatic cloud-based Backup only backs up 3rd party applications, preferences and account settings. It does not backup archived e-mails, PIM data other than Contacs or Calendar entries or media files (Mp3s, jpegs, videos etc).
- Videos played back on the Pre's media player app can only be viewed in landscape mode, nor portrait.
- Several codecs are supported out of the box: MPEG-4, H.263, and H.264. DRM-protected videos such as those sold by Amazon, are not supported.
- Users must manually backup their media libraries (both user-loaded and purchased Amazon MP3s) via USB mass storage drag'n drop mode. There appears to be no way to natively synchronize or backup the device's USB drive contents but a 3rd party utility will almost certainly be created to do this.
- Java applets, Adobe Flash and Abobe Shockwave are not supported by the web browser.
- Text on a web page cannot be selected and then copied and pasted.
- Sprint Music, Sprint PictureMail or Sprint Digital Lounge services are not supported, which should be no great loss to anyone but Sprint die-hards. These losses are mitigated by the native MMS support on the Pre's messaging app and the presence of Palm's App Store for the device, in addition to the presence of the Amazon MP3 store.
The post also goes into several interest technical discussions regarding resetting the device. The same basic Palm OS concepts remain but "soft" and "hard" resets are now replaced with "Restart", "Partial Erase" and "Full Erase". The Inside Sprint Now blog post unfortunately does not go into any detail by differentiating between these various types of device resets, other than stating that the Partial Erase deletes all user info and preferences but leaves the media contents of the flash storage area unaffected.
An entire section is dedicated to rather common-sense items such as toggling the wireless radios on & off and lowering screen brightness to conserve battery power. This laundry list of tips could be interpreted by some Palm-pessimistic types that battery life will be the Pre's Achilles heel. The older Palm Centro and Treo 800w are slower-clocked, smaller-screen devices that share the same 1150mAh battery as the Pre. Both of those devices have been severely criticized in the past for reduced battery runtime, especially with Wi-Fi and GPS enabled in the case of the 800w. Seidio does offer a 1350mAh OEM-size battery as an accessory for those devices as well as the Pre, but that remains a $40+ add-on.
Another interesting bit closes out the blog post advising users how to handle a low-memory situation within the OS by resetting the device. Memory leaks are an inevitable trade-off with any computing device but the discussion of sluggish performance under low memory situations does seem to run contrary from the CES and CTIA impressions of lightning-fast Pre performance. Still, it's encouraging to see the process explained in an official capacity and not attributed to the presence of 3rd party apps, as was often the case in the earlier Palm OS days. The actual Pre reset process is thankfully more elegant than the "remove cover, remove battery, reinstall battery" process seen on all Palm devices since the 700p that have been devoid of an actual reset button. Such detailed info is especially appreciated since this info is likely from internal training materials targeted at Sprint customer service and retail staff and the Pre is likely to attract a fair share of first-time smartphone buyers.