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Five of my favorite things about the Palm Pre

CNET editor Bonnie Cha lists her top five reasons for loving the Palm Pre.

Corinne Schulze/CNET

On Monday, I asked readers to tell me about their experience with the Palm Pre, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Not surprisingly, the Palm WebOS received most of the accolades for its multitasking abilities and integration of contacts and calendars from various accounts. Others mentioned good call quality, fast performance, and sleek user interface, and the list goes on.

It's been almost a week since I've been using the Pre and some of the newness has worn off. Yet, there are still times where I say "wow" and see where the smartphone stands out from the crowd, so I've rounded up five of my favorite things about the Pre. These are features that I personally find the most useful. Obviously, everyone has different uses and needs for their smartphone, so I'll be asking you to share your list at the end of the post but for now, here's my top five.

  1. Multitasking: This is an obvious one, but really, how can you not mention the multitasking abilities of the Pre? While there are ways to switch between apps on other devices, such as Windows Mobile and Google Android smartphones, it's not as sophisticated or as easy as the Pre. Having programs running in the background while working in another and being able to easily switch between them is huge and the Pre's killer feature. It just comes down to a better user experience and smarter device management.
  2. Synergy: In one of my previous blogs, one reader commented about how the name Synergy is complete marketing speak. Agreed (and it's one word that makes me particularly cringe when used in the corporate world), but damn if I don't love this feature. I always thought of myself as an organized person, but turns out, I'm not really. Over the years, I've created numerous e-mail accounts so I have contacts all over the place. The Pre helps me bring them all together in a couple of easy steps, gets rid of duplicates, and imports contacts photos.

    I understand there are some who don't want this type of mass integration (I ran into this problem myself when syncing my Facebook contacts), and I think Palm needs to find a better way to filter or "unlink" contacts, but overall, I found more value in this feature than not. Plus, I think Synergy is most useful in calendar synchronization. I don't put personal appointments in my Outlook calendar so having my Google and Outlook calendars merged into one and color-coded by account has been wonderful.

  3. Camera: Despite the lack of editing options and video recording, the Pre's 3-megapixel camera is really impressive. I've tested numerous camera phones with 3.2-megapixel cameras or higher and have been disappointed by the image quality. Either the colors are washed out or there's some orange hue or hazy effect that softens the sharpness. However, I have none of those complaints with the Pre. Images were sharp and colors were vibrant; plus there's very little shutter lag.
    Taken with the Palm Pre Bonnie Cha/CNET

  4. Web browser: I don't own an iPhone, and until Apple adds a physical keyboard, I will never own an iPhone. That said, I'd be lying if I said I haven't been envious of the Safari browser. The easy navigation and page management and the benefits of the multitouch screen made the iPhone stand apart from the competition, but guess what? The Palm Pre's browser does that now too. You lose a bit in screen size, but I experienced better browsing speeds on Sprint's 3G network than AT&T's and I'll take that over a few tenths of an inch anytime.
  5. GPS: I don't drive much during the week, but on weekends, I like to head out of town. Lately, I've had to travel to some unfamiliar places for various events and whatnot, so the Pre's GPS capabilities and Sprint Navigation have really come in handy. I was impressed by its speed and accuracy, and I also like how the location services are integrated into some of the applications, such as Citysearch and Fandango. The fact that real-time turn-by-turn navigation is native to the Pre and the use of Sprint Navigation is included in the data plan is a bonus.

So those are just a few of my favorite things. What are yours? Also, in the next couple of days, I'll write about five things I dislike about the Pre, or features I would like to see pushed out in an update or in future Palm WebOS devices. So think about your list for that as well.