The Tech Heraldís rolling review of the Palm Pixi Plus

On Monday, January 25, Verizon will introduce Palmís Pre Plus and Pixi Plus to the masses. The Tech Herald has been playing with both devices for the past few hours, and along with pricing details, weíve put together our initial thoughts in the first part of what will be a rolling review of the Pixi Plus.

[Note: This is the rolling review of the Palm Pixi Plus. We will continue to test and update this review daily for as long as we have the device in our hands. If you have a question about a feature, the phone itself, or just want something tested, leave us a comment. If you are looking for the rolling review for the Palm Pre Plus, head here.]

First, some details. The Palm Pixi Plus is $99.99 USD after a $100 rebate with a two year contract. The data plan will run $29.99 USD for Unlimited Data. If you want the 3G Hotspot option, that is another $40.00 USD in addition to your voice and data plan costs. The Hotspot option essentially turns the Pixi Plus into a MiFi, offering the same 3G Wi-Fi abilities without the need for two devices.

Holding the Pixi, the first thing you notice is that it almost isnít there. Itís so much lighter than the Pre, coming in at just under 4 ounces. When compared to the Pre, the Pixi is just as solid and smooth, bit it is thinner and slightly smaller. However, unlike the Pre, which is a compact unit with a sliding keyboard, the Pixi is a single form factor phone.




The straight design offers quick access to the keyboard, and because of this, typing is easier than it is on the Pre. The screen is smaller than the Pre (320 x 400 pixels with 18-bit color), despite that the colors are vivid and resolution is great.



Below the screen is the same touch area for menu control, and the gesture controls worked like a charm. Again, it takes a few minutes to learn them all, but with the gesture guide, you can quickly master them. The process for accessing the cards, which are minimized applications, is the same on the Pixi as it is on the Pre. On either device the learning curve is minimal.

One of the fist things that we did was download Pandora from the application store, and from there we noticed that the Pixi did not have a set of headphones like the Pre had. That aside, when testing Pandora with a generic set of earbuds, the sound was rich and had amazing tone. At this time, we have not used the Wi-Fi abilities, so the streaming of Pandora comes courtesy of Verizonís EV-DO REV A network.

Call quality was great with no echo on either end or delay when talking. In the Indianapolis area, where the Pixi was tested, the signal strength remained at 3-5 bars, but ultimately had no impact on Internet speed or call quality.

We tested the Pixi to see what would happen if we attempted to make a call with Pandora playing. As was the case when we tested the Pre, Pandora paused the music the second the send key was pressed. At the end of the call, the music resumed. Keeping with earlier testing, we moved to YouTube next, with the exact same results. Once the video started, Pandora stopped, and needed manually resumed after the video finished.

Video playback, while slightly smaller, was just as clear as expected. There were a few skips in playback, as the video needed to buffer, but this could be due to the fact that the testing was indoors and interference. The sound quality when the video was playing on generic headphones was just as clean as it was with Pandora.

Surfing Google News on the Pixi was a piece of cake, and this is due mostly to the gesture controls, which made Google News crystal clear after only a few adjustments. However, this was only one test of the Internet abilities of webOS, so when we update next expect more test results.

Keeping several applications running at the same time appears to show no lag, on this level at least, the Pre and Pixi are on equal footing. Time and additional testing will be the decider on this.

Lastly, the Pixi has a 2-megapixel camera, and as you can see below, the image quality is decent, but donít expect to become a photo journalist with it any time soon. For fast snaps, and shots of friends or family at the spur of the moment, the camera will do its job.

(Top image is closer with no flash. Bottom image is three steps back with flash.)



Weíll update more tomorrow on both the Pre and the Pixi. If you have questions or want us to research something on the device, leave a comment below and let us know.

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