palm preThe Palm Pre reviews all arrived en masse last night, and while it sounds like Palm has a home run on its hands, I think Palm really needed a grand slam. The Engadget review is the most detailed of all the ones I’ve read, and, oddly enough, the most gushingly positive, despite the fact that in the first part of their review, their first review unit broke (!):

There is a small flap that covers the MicroUSB port, and while attempting to get the thing open, a thin piece of plastic which runs along the bottom of the casing just snapped. Now, we’re not saying this is a widespread problem—in fact, reps at Palm claimed this was the first time they’d seen it happen—but it was a little disconcerting. Still, hats off to them, because they went above and beyond the call of duty to bring us a second phone: they sent someone on a plane from San Francisco to LA!

Well, that’s great for Engadget, but I seriously doubt Palm is going to be flying out replacement Pres to regular users. Somehow after their review unit broke, Engadget manages to remain largely positive on the physical design of the device, even saying that the keyboard is nice, despite every other review I’ve read noting that it was cramped. Even the often optimistic David Pogue critiques, “They’re really tiny; a BlackBerry’s keyboard is Texas by comparison.”

Walt Mossberg’s review is one of the quickest (and most balanced) to read that nevertheless manages to cover all the important details. Gizmodo’s review is probably the wackiest with claims that the bottom edge of the Pre is sharp enough to cut hands:

If you’re pushing up screen from the bottom of the phone, as you’d instinctively want to do, prepare to get sliced. It’s just that irresponsibly sharp.

All the reviews I read noted that the device is a great phone that will give the iPhone a run for its money, but none of them seemed to put the Palm Pre solidly ahead of the iPhone across the board. The big winner that Palm seems to have is not the Pre, but WebOS which received very positive reviews from everyone with a few complaints about how the Synergy contact system gets overloaded when you add all your Facebook contacts and the Universal Search feature seems to search everything on the device except for the text of your emails. The big question is: will the Pre do well enough to keep Palm in business and pushing to release new better devices on WebOS? I hope so, but sending a review unit to Engadget that broke speaks something to Palm’s quality control, and I’m not optimistic. I think a lot of consumers will just wait until the first generation production kinks are worked out of the device, and then they’ll get the Palm Pre from Verizon in January.

This can’t be making Sprint happy. I imagine Sprint, dying to get the Palm Pre out there as soon as it can to help save its network, but also dealing with pre-production units that have little bits of plastic snapping off. What a horrible little version of hell that is, eh?

Also, looming in the not-too-distant future, just past the weekend, is WWDC 2009, where I’m pretty sure that Apple will be announcing a new iPhone that will address many of the points of comparison between the iPhone and the Pre where the Pre, so far, is winning out in these reviews.

So I know I was debating Palm Pre or iPhone 3.0, but I think I’ll wait for the new iPhone, especially if there will be a 4GB $99 model as has been rumored. I was interested in getting a Palm Pre so that I could review it for Obsessable, but Palm didn’t send us a review unit (we would gladly have taken the one with broken plastic from Engadget) and it’s already been reviewed to death by everyone else, so there’s little point to reviewing it now. Also, my brother is planning on getting a Palm Pre, so my gadget-lust curiosity about the device will get to live vicariously through him.

I will be getting a new iPhone though, so stay tuned for more on that here and on Obsessable once they are announced and I get my hands on one.

My prediction for WWDC:

Schiller will keynote all the boring parts and then he’ll say “Oh yes, but there’s One more thing…” and Steve Jobs will walk out on stage with the new iPhone and possibly the long-rumored iTablet. The new iPhone will work on a new faster tier of AT&T’s 3G network, will have a better camera, will do video, and will be available nigh immediately for anyone on AT&T and be available on Verizon come January. ;-)