For the last few years, I’ve been using my Motorola-Q Smartphone (running Windows Mobile 5) as my cell phone. When I first got it, I thought it was really cool that I could get emails “pushed” down to my phone automatically through the Microsoft Exchange Server system that my company was using. Along with emails, I could also view my calendar and get alerts on events and tasks.
As time went on, newer smartphones appeared on the market with GPS for positioning, better web browsers, and better apps. Blackberry phones were very popular, and the Apple iPhone raised the bar when it came to a productive user-interface. About 6 months ago Palm, Inc. came out with the Palm Pre running Palm’s WebOS operating system. Very much like Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android interface, WebOS was the new Linux-based OS that would help propel Palm back into the modern Smarphone arena.
It was the WebOS that really interested me, as it made the Windows Mobile 5 OS on my Moto-Q phone seem prehistoric. Unfortunately, the first Palm phone to run WebOS (Palm Pre) had a slider keyboard form-factor which I really didn’t like. The Pre was also somewhat thick (because of the slider keyboard) and I didn’t want to get something that was thicker than my current Moto-Q phone (since I normally keep my phone in my front pants pocket).
Then appeared the Palm Pixi, which was a very thin candy bar-form factor smartphone that ran the WebOS and had a fixed keyboard. It was similar to my Moto-Q, but thinner, slimmer, and lighter and also sported a touch screen. This was the phone that I was waiting for!
Now, I have to admit that I’ve never owned a cell phone in my life, as the company that I worked for has always paid for my cell phone and cellular service. That may sound good, but the bad thing is that I’m locked into whatever phone my company’s IT department decides I should have and I have to use a company specific cell phone provider. There’s no way for me to pick a particular phone model or cell phone plan. As such, there would be no way for me to get a Palm WebOS phone (which is currently on the Sprint network) and have my company pay for it. So what should I do?
Well, I decided that I wasn’t going to restrict myself to what my company decided to do with their cell phone offerings. Since I typically use my cell phone for both work and personal business, why should I limit myself to a crappy ancient Moto-Q smartphone? So I decided to get the Palm Pixi and begin using it as my new smartphone device. Sure, I would need to pay for it and start paying for monthly phone service, but I’ve gotten a free ride for the last 11 years and I really shouldn’t complain.
As such, I visited my local Sprint store on November 15th (launch day for the Palm Pixi) and picked one up. Since my wife already had a Sprint account for her Blackberry, I simply added a 2nd line for the Palm Pixi with shared minutes and unlimited data, messenging, etc. As it turned out, Sprint has a new promotion which allows customers to dial other cell phones for free regardless of which carrier it is. So the shared voice minutes is only counted towards calls made to land-line phones. What a great deal!
So after using the Pixi for over a week now I have to say I really love it. I was a bit afraid that the screen size would be too small, but it works just fine for me. You might read in the online reviews that the Pixi isn’t for “Power Users” (which supposedly is for the Palm Pre), but I find it perfectly adequate for my personal and business needs. It has a beautiful touch screen, a GPS locator, a great external keyboard. In addition, it runs the Palm WebOS which is the best feature of the phone.
Among the apps included on the Pixi is the Sprint Navigation System (which uses the built-in GPS for map navigation), a wonderful web browser, and also something called “Synergy” which allows me to sync and view multiple calendars and contact information on my Pixi. So I can view my work’s Outlook calendar schedule along with my personal schedule in Google’s online calendar all in one place. Synergy also combines my Google mail contacts information with Outlook’s contacts in one convenient location on my Pixi. The same goes for email, where I can access mail from my gmail acccount (via “push” technology), various POP email accounts, as well as my work’s Outlook email.
One thing that worried me was the integration with Microsoft Exchange Server, since my company relies heavily on it for scheduling, emails, and contacts. Luckily, my Palm Pixi was able to connect to the Exchange Server with no problems and I have full access to my information just like on my Moto-Q phone. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the “Global Contact Search” feature of Microsoft Exchange also worked on the Pixi!
Although there aren’t a lot of apps available for WebOS when compared to the Apple iPhone, there are enough to make you more productive with the Palm WebOS phone. For example, I’ve loaded the following freeware apps on my Palm Pixi:
- AccuWeather – For monitoring weather conditions for different cities in the US where I travel
- GoodFood – For finding restaurants close by my proximity (using GPS)
- WHERE – For getting news, movie and traffic info, yellow pages, gas station locations
- Get Starbucks – For finding the nearby Starbucks coffee shops near my current location
- Pandora – For listening to music via the Internet
- Evernote – For accessing my Evernote online information
- Yelp – For finding local restaurants, banks, drug stores, coffee shops, etc.
I can see all of these applications coming in handy while I’m on out-of-town business travel.
I love the fact that the Pixi has a touch screen and a wonderful user-interface with the WebOS, which makes my Moto-Q phone seem like a dinosaur with hardware arrow keys for moving a primative cursor around on the non-touch screen.
Another nice thing is the Touchstone charger, which allows me to charge my Pixi by simply placing it on the charger’s magnetic top. Since the charger works by induction, I don’t need to use any cables or wires. I just lay the Pixi on top of the Touchstone and it immediately begins charging. Welcome to the modern era!
So in all, I’m glad I purchased the Palm Pixi and I firmly believe it is worth forgoing my free company cell phone plan and paying for the phone and cell service. It will definitely increase my productivity for both my personal and work life, which will make my life in general much easier to manage.