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Palm Pre: The smartphone addict's latest fix

From Treo to iPhone to Storm to Bold, Don Reisinger has a smartphone-switching habit that he's trying to kick, but certain "unparalleled" features in Palm's new phone are keeping it alive.

Let me quickly walk you through my obsession with smartphones. Dating back to 2006, I've used a Palm Treo, two iPhones (a first-gen and the 3G), a BlackBerry Storm, and a BlackBerry Bold.

Palm Pre
The Palm Pre comes out Saturday. I must have it. CBS Interactive

I first owned the Palm Treo. But when the first-generation iPhone was released, I had to have it, so I decided to enter into an AT&T contract and carry two phones. After a few months, I ditched the Treo and stuck with the iPhone. Then Apple released the iPhone 3G. I bought it the day it was released.

When Research In Motion announced the BlackBerry Storm, the company sent it to me to try out. I had it for about a month. It was a poor experience, so I happily sent it back and stuck with my iPhone 3G.

A couple of months ago, I announced on these pages that I decided to ditch my iPhone in favor of the BlackBerry Bold. I reasoned that the Bold was better for what I needed. And as great as Apple's App Store is, it wasn't enough for me to want to keep the iPhone.

So since April, I've been the proud owner of a BlackBerry Bold. It's a well-designed device that has enhanced my ability to communicate, and I like it more than the iPhone 3G (and every other smartphone I've used).

I thought it was over. I believed that for the next year I'd be able to stop myself from buying another smartphone.

And then I started to feel the Palm Pre itch. I researched it. I wrote about it. I did everything I could to see whether it was something I would want. CNET posted its review of the Palm Pre this week and, well, that ended the debate: I'm buying a Palm Pre. I'll be carrying two smartphones around once again.

I'm working hard at reducing my obsession with tech. Stopping myself from buying this smartphone would have helped me in that endeavor. But the Palm Pre's features are too engaging. The design is too appealing. I can't help myself.

Why I want the Pre

It's about the multitasking
As CNET's Bonnie Cha said in her review, "the Palm Pre's multitasking capabilities and notifications system are unparalleled." That's enough for me to want it.

One of my biggest issues with the iPhone (and other smartphones I've owned) is its inability to adequately provide me with the multitasking I need. It's a cool device, but I'm somewhat of a power user. Not being able to easily switch between apps is a real pain.

But Palm's device changes all that. The Pre lets you launch another app without exiting the program you're currently running. I think it's a major advancement. You shouldn't be forced to lose your place just to open another application. And in today's smartphone space, you will. But with the help of a few swipes of your finger on the Pre, you'll be able to open multiple apps without losing any progress. It adds a new level of usability that we haven't seen in this space.

Beauty matters
One of the biggest issues I have with my BlackBerry Bold is its display. It's small and not nearly as vibrant as I would like. Smartphones are becoming more advanced, and I want a display that will follow suit. According to Cha, the Palm Pre will.

She said in her review that the "Pre's display is one of the main highlights of the phone." It's slightly smaller than the iPhone's screen, but it's a 24-bit color HVGA display with a 320 x 480 resolution. Cha said it's "on par with, if not slightly crisper-looking than, the iPhone's screen." That's what I'm looking for.

Better typing
Although Cha took issue with the Palm Pre's keyboard (she said it's "cramped"), I'm excited for the physical keyboard.

One of my biggest complaints with the iPhone is that virtual keyboard. It's difficult to type on. I never liked it.

That's why I'm so excited about the Pre. It offers the touch screen I came to enjoy with the iPhone, but it gives me a physical keyboard that I've grown to love in my BlackBerry. Once again, it takes the appeal of multiple devices and combines them.

And that's precisely why I'm buying a Palm Pre on Saturday. I've never used it. I don't know if it will be as appealing to me as the iPhone once was or as the BlackBerry Bold is now. But on paper, it looks as if it could transform my experience with smartphones.

Is it perfect? Of course not. As Bonnie Cha points out, the battery life is poor, and there are a limited number of applications. According to recent reports, there's a chance that the Pre won't be available Saturday, when I try to buy it, thanks to stock shortages. There's also a new iPhone software version coming soon and, according to rumors, a new iPhone. But all those aren't enough to make me not buy the Pre. It's a device I think I need right now. And for $200, it won't break the bank.

Are other compulsive smartphone switchers--you know who you are--with me? Let us know in the comments below.

Check out Don's Digital Home podcast, Twitter stream, and FriendFeed.