THE FIRST of HP's products resulting from its purchase of Palm were shown off as the firm announced the release of the Palm Pre 2.
The device will tip up on French GSM network SFR sporting the latest version of WebOS. HP spent most of its announcement focusing on the operating system rather than the device, and judging by the feature-set, that looks to be a good idea.
Customers will be hard pressed to notice the difference between the current Pre and the Pre 2. The 3.1-inch screen has a disappointing resolution of only 320x480. The phone's CPU hasn't been revealed though the word on the street is that it runs at 1GHz. It has 16GB of memory, a 5 megapixel camera with flash, GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth.
Originally launched with the Palm Pre, WebOS garnered widespread critical acclaim, however the decision to limit it to just three devices meant that it failed to capture a significant chunk of the market. The latest WebOS supports many of the features that have been lauded on Google's Android, including multi-tasking, support for Adobe Flash and the Quickoffice productivity suite.
There's improved support for multiple email and social notworking accounts through HP Synergy software. WebOS 2 also has support for applications in "exhibition" mode while the Pre 2 is docked with the Touchstone charging dock.
However news that the WebOS Skype application will only support one carrier, Verizon, is the sort of thing that in the past held the Palm Pre back. It is likely that as HP releases the Pre 2 in other countries it will announce similar exclusive deals.
Given that HP has also announced the Pre 2 on the US CDMA network Verizon, it is likely that GSM versions of the phone will tip up soon for US customers. HP has already revealed that developers will be able to get their hands on an unlocked UMTS device to create WebOS applications.
Excitement for the Pre 2 has been tempered somewhat due to the fact that current Pre owners will also have access to WebOS. Going through the specifications of the Pre 2, it does seem that the excellent WebOS has once again been mated to hardware that can most kindly be described as conservative.
HP has retained the Palm branding for its Pre 2 handset but while the name might help it flog the latest handset to the faithful, there is very little in the hardware that will attract new customers. All eyes will now turn to what HP will do with its hyped WebOS tablet that is scheduled to tip up sometime next year.
In the meantime, French punters will be able to pick up the Pre 2 on Friday, if the shops are open, that is. µ