Home > Fun Stuff > ROAD TRIP! I Push Palm Pre’s Multitasking to the Limit…

ROAD TRIP! I Push Palm Pre’s Multitasking to the Limit…

Road trip!  Well… not exactly one I was looking forward to.  For several reasons.  First, I would be riding with my boss on our way to a boring convention. Second, our trip would take us right through the rural heart of Louisiana… a state not known for its great Sprint coverage (hardly any 3G at all… what the hell is that all about??).  Finally, my boss owned an iPhone and was poised to give me all kinds of grief about it, should my Pre not measure up to my glowing praise.

Read on to see if “The Pre-cious” made the cut…

The drive from Shreveport to New Orleans is a six hour trek, which is a long time when you’re sitting shotgun next to your boss.  On top of all this, my grandmother in Puerto Rico had just had a stroke, and my wife was on a flight to Dallas to meet up with my parents en route to the island.  Needless to say, I really wanted to be somewhere else.  Fortunately, I had my trusty Palm Pre on hand to keep me occupied, while keeping me in contact with my family…  and showing my iPhone-toting boss what this baby could do.  Below is a list of things I did on my Pre, all at the same time, during our trip.


To keep us on the right course, I fired up Sprint’s TeleNav GPS navigation app, with guidance playing through the car’s speakers.  Sprint bundles this program with pretty much all of their phones, and includes the service with all of the Palm Pre’s data plans…  nice.  On the Pre, this app is especially cool because, as you’ll see later, multiple things can be done at the same time while nav guidance takes place.  The app itself looks rather basic, but important functionalities are there: spoken street names, saved addresses, route customization, sharing addresses via SMS, and route correction for traffic. Thus far, it had not let me down.  But on this trip, I was worried about the signal…

Turns out I was only half right to be concerned.  First of all, we Sprint users are lucky to roam on Verizon’s extensive roaming network. When roaming, the Pre’s guidance and map refreshing didn’t skip a beat.  When we hit areas of NO signal at all, the maps stopped refreshing, but at least audible route guidance continued. I learned later on that the Pre’s Telenav app pulls MAPS from Sprint’s towers, but it’s the GPS satellites that keep a bead on you, even when you are out of signal range.


The radio stations in middle Louisiana are nothing to write home about.  Because my Pre was already plugged into the car speakers, I opened my MP3 music player.  It worked seamlessly with the Telenav app:  music would diminish when route guidance kicked in, and then resume at the previous volume when guidance was finished.

The last couple hours of the drive were a real treat: with 3G service available as we approached New Orleans (finally!!!), I fired up Pandora which, just like the MP3 player, worked very well with Sprint’s Telenav app.  I was expecting there to be some lag in the connection due to the heavy data demands my phone was making, but it worked 100% without a hitch.


I’m a hardcore SMS/MMS user… While navigation and music apps were running, I was texting and receiving pics via MMS, and later had an instant messaging session on GTalk with one of my colleagues about our upcoming presentation at the New Orleans meeting.  The Palm Pre’s keyboard is small and takes some getting used to, but once you do, it’s easy to type on even in the car.  I’m far more accurate on the Pre than I ever was on my old iPhone, though I would eventually like a better autocorrect system.  I’m confident that with time the Pre will get it. (Ahem… Palm?)

While the music was playing and “The Pre-cious” told us where to go, I opened up FlightView, one of the “original 30” apps that launched with the Palm Pre’s beta app store.  This app allows you to track flights in real-time, with updates on flight status.  This app has only worked for me so-so, to be honest.  I’ve often received a text from Orbitz about a flight delay looooong before FlightView alerts me.  The app has also fudged expected arrival times in the past.  Luckily, this time, it worked like a charm. With the card kept open the whole way, I was able to see, in real time, my family’s flight to Puerto Rico throughout my trip.  It was great.

(Yes I know the pic doesn’t match the route! Just go with it, okay?)


On the way down to New Orleans, my boss had been told by one of his patients to try some boudin on the way. Ever had this stuff?  Up until that day, me neither! … With navigation, music, SMS, and Flightview running, I simply typed “boudin” using Universal Search (didn’t need to open my browser) and looked it up on Wikipedia.  I took a screenshot of the boudin picture up close and sent it via MMS to my Dad’s Palm Centro.  I found a website dedicated exclusively to reviewing boudin throughout all of  South Louisiana!  Finally, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the boudin with the Pre’s awesome camera… looks delish, doesn’t it?

Because my wife’s iPhone could not send MMS (ahem), she’d email me pictures of her with my folks when they met up in Dallas en route to Puerto Rico.  I also emailed my PowerPoint presentation to my colleague… mind you, all the crap I’ve talked about so far has been going on pretty much at the same time.

I didn’t know what Twitter was before I got my Palm Pre.  And now?  … Well, let’s just say I’m two levels shy of addicted (and in denial!).  So yeah, when we were on Sprint’s network, there was quite a bit of tweeting, too.

GPS Navigation. Pandora. FlightView. Texting. Email. Web browser. Twitter. I ran all of these at a time. Only when I opened my camera on top of all this did things start to lag a bit, forcing me to close my web browser and Twitter.

It was late when we got to New Orleans.  Still, my boss did manage to swallow his pride for a second and say: “so… how much does the Pre cost?  Great little device.”

Call me a fanboy, but I’d say he’s right.  The Pre is just a joy to use and, while not perfect, it’s the best phone I’ve ever owned.  I highly, highly recommend it.

Categories: Fun Stuff
  1. Alan
    October 21, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    I recently bought the Pre after having the Centro. Unfortunately, I am going to return The Pre because:1. You can't do speed dialing.2. The phone lock's up so often that it is difficult to use the phone when in the car.3. I can list other issues but am not waiting to find out.

  2. mike macon
    October 21, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    I do speed dialing on my Pre.

  3. Matt
    October 21, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Great Job. What a wonderful way to show what the Pre is capable of. Real life situations with real life results. The Pre will definitely be my next phone. Thanks for making that decision a whole lot easier.

  4. Dan Ramirez
    October 21, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    @Alan: YOU CAN do speed dialing (thanks, Mike). Try researching a little bit before dooming a device. My Pre RARELY crashes; I can't even remember when the last time was… certainly before the last webOS update, which has made it even faster and more stable. I'm sure the vast majority of Pre owners would report a similar experience. Unfortunately, whiners are usually the loudest.@Matt: Smart choice! Whenever you get your Pre feel free to ask me any questions on Twitter (my ID is @vara411)

  5. Alexander D.
    November 4, 2009 at 4:55 am

    I'd been using an iPhone since day one i got my pre 4 days ago and I can say a like this phone totally different that iphone but i think i wont go back to my iphone

  6. Alexander D.
    November 4, 2009 at 4:57 am

    please add virtual keyboard, speed, a few more app like BoA app and video and I will be happier…

  7. Dan Ramirez
    November 16, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Palm Pre already has a virtual keyboard patch that can be obtained relatively easily. They've also talked about improving on the lagginess of the UI, though I think it's plenty usable already.

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