LAS VEGAS Palm chose the TI 3430 processor to power its comeback product, the Pre, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show here.
Palm's vice president of design, Peter Skillman, gave a lengthy demo of the smart phone at an invitation-only event off the CES show floor Friday (Jan 9). He mainly focused on the novel advances in the devices' touch-screen user interface.
Indeed, a major focus of the Pre is its attempt to smartly predict (thus its name Pre) the needs of its user. However, nearly 11 minutes into the demo he did rattle off a laundry list of the phone's hardware specs, some of them not widely published to date.
The 4.8 ounce Pre runs on a TI OMAP 3430 processor and supports EVDO Rev A. It has 8 Gbytes RAM, 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR, a 3 Mpixel camera with extended depth of field, an LED flash, position and (head) proximity sensors and a capacitive touch screen. The company is not disclosing vendors of the components with the exception of TI.
The Pre "represents the first time an ARM Cortex-A8 architecture has made it into a cellphone," said Will Strauss, principal of market watcher Forward Concepts (Tempe, Ariz.). TI's OMAP 3 family that includes the 3430 "is arguably the most powerful application processor available, and really is a butt-kicker in things like multimedia," he said.
"Since the first model released is based on CDMA-1XEV-DO, the wireless modem is almost certainly one of Qualcomm's MSM chip sets," Strauss added. Since Qualcomm's SnapDragon is a rival to the OMAP 3, Palm must have felt that TI's solution was more mature, which it is.
The OMAP 3 has been shipping in the Archos 5 personal media player for several months, and was the first ARM Cortex-A8-based mobile system on the market, he added.
In a separate demo, a Palm spokeswoman discussed the device's software as well as its use of a novel wireless charging technology based on magnetic coupling. While so-called wireless power is becoming widely available in after-market products, the Pre is the first major phone to integrate it into its design.
Palm added a number of smart touches to the wireless charger, including micro-suction for the base to keep it steady even on a slanted surface. The handset acts like a cordless phone when laid on the charger, going into speaker mode if it's on a call or completing a call if it is picked up while ringing.
Analysts such as David Pogue of the New York Times praised the Pre for its user interface and industrial design. However, others noted the company faces significant challenges in the war for mind share among mobile application developers who are already writing for the Apple, Microsoft, Symbian, Google and Research in Motion environments.
Palm's new operating system for the Pre, webOS, is not backwards compatible with the software used in its previous Treo phones. Palm has a developers' kit out in a closed beta program, and will help Treo developers port select apps to the Pre. Palm did not show any third-party applications at the launch.
"Palm needs to attract a large software developer community for the Pre that will bet it will get millions of phones out to make their efforts worthwhile," said Tim Bajarin, principal of Creative Strategies (Cupertino, Calif.).