By Chuong Nguyen | January 20, 2010 9:00 PM
While not a lot has changed between the Sprint Palm Pre and the Sprint Palm Pixi on the outside, Palm made some incremental upgrades that give both devices a more polished look befitting of their “plus” moniker on Verizon Wireless; the devices were officially announced at CES earlier in the month.
In the video below, we’ll give you a quick unboxing and hardware tour of the Palm Pixi Plus and Palm Pre Plus, which will both be available on Verizon Wireless beginning January 25.
The Pre Plus is getting double the storage–up to 16 GB from 8 GB from the Sprint Pre model. Additionally, the Palm Pre retains its 600 MHz ARM Cortex CPU with a PowerVR GPU while at the same time doubling the RAM making the Pre much more responsive and speedy while juggling applications, switching between cards, and browsing. Flicking through long web pages and lists now is buttery smooth and the experience over all is just a pleasure.
Changes in the Pre Plus
Palm also addressed a few issues that were present from the original Pre. The first of which is the wobbly slider mechanism that many users complained about–that’s been addressed with a more solid sliding mechanism, though you wouldn’t know it by looking at it. However, the sharp bottom edge on the keyboard is still there, though that didn’t really affect the design much–just be careful not to slice your fingers while grabbing onto the lower keyboard edge. The second issue that was addressed is the mushy keyboard that was present on the original Palm Pre on Sprint–the keyboard is more clicky now, though the keys aren’t as pronounced as on the Palm Pixi (Sprint) or Pixi Plus (Verizon Wireless).
Additionally, gone is the center home button. Rather than having a physical hardware button, Palm elected to go with a touch sensitive strip much like with the Palm Pixi on Sprint.
The Palm Pre Plus also comes with a Touchstone-compatible matte black battery cover–you don’t have to purchase a separate battery cover to use with your optional Touchstone magnetic dock and charger.
Palm Pixi Plus
The Pixi’s changes are more subtle, with WiFi is built in. The WiFi functionality is important as it enables the Mobile HotSpot app–which will be covered in a video later. The Mobile HotSpot app allows the devices to share their Verizon Wireless mobile broadband internet data connection with up to 5 other devices (laptops, PMPs, Zune HD, iPod Touch, etc). This essentially means tethering over WiFi, similar to the dedicated MiFi unit we had previously reviewed. Connection and setup using the Mobile HotSpot app was easy and painless.
Mobile HotSpot Feature
Pricing for the tethering capability is $40 per month–that’s on top of the voice plan plus the $30 smartphone unlimited data plan that you’ll have to pay to Verizon Wireless–for 5 GB of data for tethering. While that may seem expensive considering that the combined data charge of $70 per month may seem expensive, it really isn’t compared to what you’d get if you had subscribed to a broadband data plan with Verizon Wireless with a USB modem. A USB modem plan gives you the same 5 GB limit and costs $60 per month. The $70 you get on the Palm Pre Plus gives you unlimited data on your smartphone AND 5 GB of data on your laptop, so it isn’t as bad as it sounds at first.
While the Pixi Plus may seem like the entry level model, both the Pixi Plus and the Pre Plus pack a lot of high end features–light sensor, accelerometer, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, proximity sensor, and ringer switches. Additionally, Verizon Wireless also packs in their VZ Navigator software for voice-guided GPS navigation–that program requires an additional monthly subscription. With the latest version of webOS, Palm also made sure to allow simultaneous downloads of apps from the Palm App Catalog.
Both the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus are available beginning Januay 25th through Verizon Wireless. The former can be had for $149 while the latter costs $99 on a two-year agreement. Additionally, at this time, Verizon Wireless is running a promotion until February 14 where users can purchase either a Palm Pre Plus or a Palm Pixi Plus and receive a free Pixi Plus on contract. That’s a pretty good deal if you’re adding a couple lines to a family plan or starting a new family plan–smartphones for everyone!
Stay tuned for our software preview tour of the Mobile HotSpot app in the next few days! For a complete review of webOS and its features, you may want to check out Adam’s review of the original Sprint Palm Pre–much of the information still applies.
FTC Disclaimer: Verizon Wireless had provided loaner Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus units for review; after the review period, the devices will be shipped back to VZW. Neither pocketnow.com nor its staff were compensated by Verizon Wireless, Palm, or its affiliates as part of this review process.