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Palm Pixi (Sprint)

>> Monday, December 7, 2009

A smaller, cheaper version of the Pre, Palm Pixi (Sprint) is aimed at a younger audience and to those who put a precedent on messaging or are making the jump from a feature phone to a smartphone. You can think of Palm Pixi (Sprint) as the replacement to the Palm Centro. Since it is a more entry level smartphone, you sacrifice some features, such as Wi-Fi and a better camera. In addition, Palm Pixi (Sprint) feels underpowered compared with the Pre.

However, what you do get is an incredibly sleek smartphone with an improved keyboard and enhanced contact management and messaging features. Plus, you still get 3G support, Bluetooth, GPS, and the great multitasking abilities of WebOS. For first time smartphone buyers and casual users, Palm Pixi (Sprint) is enough, but power users and tech enthusiasts should go with the Pre. Palm Pixi (Sprint) goes on sale November 15 as a Sprint exclusive for US$99.99 with a two year contract (it requires one of the carrier's unlimited data plans, such as Simply Everything or Everything Data) and after a US$100 mail-in rebate.

The price is OK, and Sprint offers some of the better valued voice and data plans. That said, to make Palm Pixi (Sprint) a real enticing package, it'd be great to see Sprint shave off even US$10 on the price, considering that the Pre is only $50 more and you can get the HTC Droid Eris from Verizon for the same price with Wi-Fi. While Palm Pixi (Sprint) name won't appeal to some people, we can certainly see where the inspiration comes from, as the smartphone is downright petite and dare we say, cute?

Palm Pixi (Sprint) is Palm's thinnest device to date and measures a slight 4.37 inches by 2.17 inches wide by 0.43 inch thick and weighs 3.26 ounces. It easily slips into a pants pocket and is incredibly light in the hand without feeling fragile. The back of the phone has a nice soft touch finish so it doesn't feel as plasticky or slick as the Pre. Plus, it has a more solid construction without any moving parts that come with a slider design. Of course, with the compact size and slate form factor, there are some trade offs, most notably, screen size.

Palm Pixi (Sprint) features a 2.63 inch capacitive touch screen with a 320x400 resolution, so it's a bit of adjustment coming from the Pre's 3.1 inch, 320x480 HVGA display, particularly when viewing Web pages and videos. The app panels can also feel a bit cramped when you've got the quick launch bar or an e-mail preview occupying the bottom of the screen. Like the Pre, Palm Pixi (Sprint) has multitouch capabilities so you can use the pinch gesture to zoom in and out of Web pages, photos, and maps.

In addition, there's a built-in accelerometer as well as a proximity sensor so the display will automatically turn off when you're on a call in order to prevent any accidental mispresses when holding the phone up to your ear. Below the display is a gesture area that's not visible to the naked eye. However, once you touch it, you'll see a single line in the center light up. This replaces the physical center button found the Pre and when touched, it brings you back to the deck of card view if you're working in an application. Swiping your finger right to left will also return you to the previous screen and dragging your finger from the gesture area up to the screen will bring up the launcher bar, just like the Pre.

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