Palm (PALM) Pre Plus
Price: $50 with two-year contract
The poor Pre. Even before H-P's (HP) takeover of Palm, the device got a bad rep despite being perfectly serviceable and, in many cases, a happy medium between the iPhone and BlackBerry. At last glance in August, Palm's smartphone market share in the U.S. was at 4.6% and falling. This is a shame, considering its card-shuffle multitasking is pretty sweet and routinely updates contacts, calendars and messages from sources including Facebook, Outlook and Gmail. The Web search automatically pastes search terms into various engines and the pinching and double-tap zoom is as easy to navigate as the iPhone's, but the sliding touch screen also yields to a keyboard when needed. With Wi-fi, Bluetooth, an airplane mode, Microsoft and Mac compatibility and voice quality similar to a landline phone, the Pre should have put up a bigger fight. It didn't get a 16-gigabyte upgrade until it was too late, and its 3-megapixel camera never passed muster. Plus, when most of your apps are holdovers from PDAs, how are you supposed to compete each time Apple unveils the next big iPhone? Maybe H-P will get it back in fighting shape, but sharing space with the iPhone won't do wonders for the Pre Plus.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.
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