Thursday, January 8, 2009

CES 2009 Day 1: Microsoft and Palm

Oh yes, it’s that time of year; CES is upon us once again. Lots of announcements and new devices, so we’ll stop with the dilly-dally and get right to the good stuff.


I must admit the excitement mounted in me as I read Palm pre-CES announcements of a new operating system and a shifted focus with its s
martphones. They were the instigator of the smartphone as we know it today, so a Palm revival aroused excitement in us all. 

Palm’s new operating system, simply named Webos, looks really slick. Webos has the same flick navigation as the iPhone. A cool feature of the new OS is the quick view that organized data into “Cards” that can be rotated with your finger and you can shuffle from card to card. So basically, if you’re checking your email but you want to change the song you’re listening to you can just flick back to your music card, switch the song, then flip back to your email card. I really like the “Synergy” feature (even though I thought that word died from over-use a couple of years ago). Synergy pulls contacts from all of your social media sites (Facebook, Gmail, AIM, etc.) to gather and organize them into one coherent list on your Palm Pre. Threaded SMS is still included in Web OS, but now you can send IMs from the same window. 

(engadget has some great hands on photos here)

Now let’s move onto Palm’s new flagship device; the Palm Pre. I am the kind of girl who likes to type on actual keys, so the slider QWERTY is a big plus for me. Here are the specs: 
  • 3.1 inch 480X320 touschreen 
  • Slide QWERTY keyboard (which can be used for more than text or emails. The Pre has a predictive-text feature that will bring up menus and apps based on what you type. It then cross references your input based on what you have on your phone and presents the info almost like search results. It will also integrate your query with Google to bring up related Internet sites if needed. Palm calls this universal search)
  • 3 megapixel camera with an LED flash
  • Gesture navigation
  • Micro USB (USB mass storage support)
  • 3.5 mm Headphone Jack
  • Ability to charge wirelessly (look for more on this in a later post!) 

Everything looked and sounded fantastic, and then it was announced that Sprint would exclusively carry the new Pre (record player scratched to a stop). Maybe I’m wrong though, maybe the new Palm will succeed on Sprint’s CDMA network, but I wouldn’t bet on it. The Instinct was a great phone and looked what happen to it. I guess only time will tell.


Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced Windows 7 would be available in beta form for download tomorrow, Jan. 9. The total download should take about 45-minutes total, and Microsoft will cap the data at 2.5 million downloads. Ballmer says Windows 7 is “the best version of Windows ever… with a combination of simplicity, reliability and speed,” and we’ve heard similar things from those already in the Beta. 

Miscrosoft is also upping its research and development expenditures in the coming year to over $8 billion, focusing on Windows 7 for the PC, Windows Mobile, and XBOX, Media Center and Media Room for the TV. They did discuss quite a bit about some of the new features and capabilities of Live and how this would create a seamless integration with your PC, Windows Mobile device, Xbox and media room. Microsoft’s been on the forefront of delivering digital content to consumer electronics (here’s to you Netlfix and the 360) so here’s to hoping they come out with a fully revamped and sexed up version of Windows Mobile with some new, expanded features. Palm’s certainly handed them a healthy bit of competition with their new OS and it will be interesting to see how they respond with windows 7.

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