Friday, June 24, 2011

Product Review: Palm Pixi

I'll be writing product reviews periodically. They'll primarily be about motorcycle or bike related products. I'm going to start with something different, though. I'm going to warn you away from buying a Palm Pixi.


  Last year (2010) I became eligible for a phone upgrade, and I'd finally decided to move to the current decade and get a smart phone. I'd always made fun of them because I figured if I wanted to go online, I'd do so at home, sitting in front of my computer, as God intended. But I'd recently seen just how useful they could be. My facebook addiction had also soared to new heights, to be honest.

I looked around. The iPhone was out, because it was only available to AT&T users, and I'm perfectly happy with my Sprint service and plan. The HTC was the new hot item, but that also meant it was the current high dollar item, and I'm generally a low buck kinda guy. Okay, I'm a cheap bastard. Except for coffee. Life's way too short to drink cheap coffee, but that's a topic for another day. 

Back on topic. A coworker let me play around with her Blackberry. It seemed okay, but not great. I always hated those mice that are actually little buttons in the middle of the keyboard on laptops, and that's what the Blackberry uses. Also, the screen is limited in size compared to other phones. I'd heard good things about the Palm Pre. How it could run multiple applications at once, i.e. you could surf the Web, check your email and text all at once, like having a bunch of windows open on your computer browser. Apparently, this was unusual for smart phones (at the time, anyway).

I checked the Palms out at a Sprint store. There was the Pre, and also the new Pixi. I had seen slide out phones get worn out where they wouldn't stay in position, so that kind of made me leery of the Pre. Ah, but here was the Pixi. It had the same OS, same functionality, but no moving parts. And, to set it apart from the iPhone and the Droids, it had an actual physical keyboard. I'd had less than satisfactory experience with touch screen keyboards before, so this was a selling point. It also had touchscreen navigation as opposed to the silly little nub of a mouse on the Blackberry. The best of both worlds.

So I thought.

Now, to be honest, due to the job I did in the Navy, combined with being a metal fan most of my life, plus my love of loud motorcycles, I really don't have the best hearing. However, with the other five cell phones I've had, I've been able to max the volume on the ringer and was able to hear the damn thing. Not so with the stupid Pixi. I could barely hear it. IF I wasn't talking. Or listening to music. Or the TV. Or you know, breathing. Okay, the last one was an exaggeration. Sue me. Not the worst thing, I guess. I just set it for max volume plus vibration. If I didn't hear it, at least I could feel my pocket buzzing. No comments from the peanut gallery, please. This helped with phone calls, but it sucked for texts. My last phone was a Sanyo Katana. With that thing, I had many, many options for type of vibration, how long it lasted, etc. I had so many different options for ring tones and ring styles and volume, etc. I really liked that phone; if they come out with a Katana smart phone, I'll probably get it. Anyway, my absolute best option for notification of a text with the Pixi is a single chime accompanied by a half second vibration. That's it. I can't make the vibration last any longer, and we've already established that I can't hear the fucker ring. Annoying.

I'm too stubborn to read the manual, partially because it's somewhere in the digital archives of the Help menu of the phone. So, of course, by the time I discover these shortcomings, I've already sent in for my rebate. It's a little late to return it. I probably could have anyway, but it would have been a huge hassle, and I figured I could learn to adjust. After all, I could now carry the internet in my pocket. Just like living in the freakin' future.

Well, just about the time the warranty expires (and I never buy extended warranties except on motorcycles), I drop the damn thing. At work. On a cement floor. Shit. But, minimal damage ensued. One of the really neat features of this phone was a switch to turn off the ringer and put it on vibrate. This switch broke off, but there was no other damage.

Fast forward. As time wears on, other things happen. The backplate is a rigid plastic piece ensconced in soft rubber to provide good grip. I need to take it off periodically to dust the innards and because occasionally if I put the phone down too roughly, the aforementioned switch moves and I have to get to it to turn the ringer back on. Well, the edge of the rigid back breaks along one of the thin pieces where it's open for button access.

Then, the soft rubber casement decides to expand. It's slowly growing and sagging around the edges, looking like one of those bizarre Chinese dogs that has twice as much skin as necessary.

I can live with these minor things. But for the last month, the damn thing keeps muting itself for no damn reason. Today alone, I moved the switch at least three times, finally taping it in place. Sure enough, the little fucker silenced itself again, without the switch moving.

Also, for the last couple of weeks, the browser has really slowed down and also become unreliable. I can click on a link and it will wait and wait and wait and never load the page. Then I click on  another link and it loads right away. I'm not talking about broken web links. I'm talking about facebook notifications. It'll take me to Billy Joe Jim Bob's status that another person commented on after me, but not to John Doe's status. Arggh.

The bookmarks periodically won't load the page they're linked to, either. Yet, if I type in the URL, it goes right there. Irritating when you're using a phone. If you're accessing the internet via cell phone, you usually don't have time on your side, or you'd be using a computer. So, the slowness and refusal to follow links is irritating as all hell.

So, there's my first product review. If you're looking for a new smart phone, and you're considering a Palm, do yourself a favor. Like NancyReagan told us in the 80s, "Just Say No".


  1. Thanks, bro.

    Anyone else who may be reading along, I got an HTC Hero linked to my account yesterday. Wonder how that's gonna work out for me?