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Palm Pixi Plus Review
February 25, 2010

Over the past 4 months Verizon has made more additions to their smartphone line-up than any of the big 4 cell phone providers. Their most recent addition arrived in a pair of devices from Palm; the Pre Plus and the Pixi Plus. Both devices were previously released on Sprint’s network, but now they’ve come to Verizon with a couple of notable improvements over their Sprint counterparts. Read on to find out how the Palm Pixi Plus has been altered, and how it rates compared to Verizon’s other stand out devices.

On the exterior the Pixi Plus has a very basic design, that has remained largely unchanged from the Sprint version. The Pixi is a simple candy bar style phone with a full QWERTY keyboard on the bottom half of the phone, and a 2.6” capacitive touchscreen occupying the top. Although small, the Pixi’s display produces 320x400 resolution, and is every bit as responsive and accurate as the Pre Plus. The Pixi’s QWERTY keyboard has a top notch feel to it, with keys that are raised and offer a resounding click after each press. Call quality was slightly above average on the Pixi Plus, as the phone seemed a little on the quiet side during some test calls. Internally, the Pixi Plus offers 256MB ROM/256MB RAM, and a 8GB memory card. The Pixi Plus also comes with wi-fi support which was missing on the Sprint version. Overall, the Pixi Plus is a fairly plain device to look at, but it gets the job done and offers a great physical keyboard.

Software is what really sets the Pixi Plus apart from many of the newer smartphones. The Pixi Plus runs on Palm’s webOS (version 1.3.5.1), which makes everything from navigating to managing multiple e-mail accounts, fun and simple. webOS is flexible, intuitive, and powerful and allows the Pixi to multi-task fairly well. WebOS supports Microsoft Exchange with Active Sync, push support for Gmail, and standard POP support for any other e-mail service. I had an easy time setting up multiple inboxes, and was impressed with the speed with which my Gmail messages were delivered. WebOS also supports threaded sms messaging and manages to integrate both Google Talk and AIM instant messaging all into one seamless experience. One of the other bright spots for the Pixi Plus and webOS is the Mobile Hotspot feature/application, which allows your Pixi Plus to act as a wi-fi access point for up to 5 other wi-fi enabled devices. The Mobile Hotspot app is free to download, but to utilize the feature you must pay $40 per month in addition to your $29.99 data plan. Cost aside the feature works great, and would definitely offer a realistic solution to business users who are on the go and need access to a steady internet connection.

Palm’s App Catalog is a pretty cool place to shop for new apps and games, but since its relatively new, the selection of apps is small compared to Apple’s app store or Android Market. Palm’s app selection is sure to grow with time, but there are a few decent games available now, and gaming is something the Pixi Plus does fairly well.

On the multimedia front, the Pixi Plus has some good things going for it. Leading the list of media features is the Pixi Plus’ Webkit based browser. The Pixi Plus’ browser is one of the better web browsers I’ve had a chance to use. The speed was good, and multi-touch is functional out-of-the-box, so pinch-to-zoom is in full effect. The only problems I encountered while browsing were the lack of an on-screen keyboard, which forces you to switch between portrait and landscape mode if you want to browse to a different url, and sometimes I felt cramped while navigating pages due to the phone’s 2.6” display. Another asset of the Pixi Plus is the camera which is a 2 megapixel unit and features an LED flash, and takes pretty good pics. The major multimedia weakness of the Pixi Plus is the lack of video capture, which will be addressed when version 1.4 of webOS is made available. The music player is also very solid. It gives you the option to play songs from playlist or album art view, which is slick since you can finger swipe from track to track. The Pixi Plus also streams video nicely, as files load quickly and look sharp and crisp.

In closing, the Pixi Plus is a solid device, and is a great option for any customer looking for an entry-level smartphone. Palm’s webOS is a very good platform that has the potential to be elite, and the Pixi Plus offers a smooth and reliable touchscreen experience. The Pixi’s dimensions, like the Pre, are a little small for my personal tastes, but the Pixi Plus’ ability to multi-task, strong feature set, and low price ($79.99 on a 2-yr. contract) make it an appealing option in Verizon’s line-up.

Score: 7.25/10 (Cool phone!)


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