I call myself a “mobile mommy”. No matter where we go I'm connected. Which is quite handy as we are constantly on the go. Between travel, waiting at gymnastics lesson and school drop-offs, productive home time is short. And I'm really not good at waiting.
Back in December my husband and I “broke down” and upgraded to Blackberries. Now I completely understand their nickname of “crackberry”. But it's amazing just how many emails I can answer while I'm waiting at pre-school drop off. Or how many Twitter conversations I can join in on while the girls are at gymnastics. Or I can upload photos of dinner to Facebook. Normally wasted time has now become productive!
I recently spent 6 weeks “playing” with two of Verizon's other productivity products, the Palm Pre Plus and the HP Mini 311 with built in mobile broadband modem.
I was really excited to try this phone as, back in my 9-5 job days, I had the first two versions of the Palm Pilot and loved them.
Getting started with the Palm Pre Plus was quite simple. You begin by creating a Palm profile online. This keeps your phone updated and your information backed-up (a nice feature if you have a habit of losing phones).
I loved that Palm has a website devoted to Self-Paced Learning Guides for their phones. This made getting used to the phone and setting it up easier than reading a manual.
The Palm Pre Plus excels at organizing your schedule. Using Palm Synergy™ multiple calendars migrate into one. Each calendar is color coded (ex: blue=office, pink=personal, green=spouse) and laid onto one view. You can migrate calendars from a few different sources such as Outlook, Palm desktop, and Google.
Another handy feature of the Palm Pre Plus (and it's little sister the Pixi Plus) is that is can serve as a mobile hotspot for up to 5 devices (like a netbook, Nintendo DSi or other gaming devices). This additional service is $40 per month (and free for a limited time).
The Palm Pre Plus is a fun phone to use with it's touch screen and slide out keyboard. The keypad was especially nice for me as the keys have a rubbery “grip” to them and my fingers didn't “miss” some letters- like they do with my Blackberry. And I loved the “Post It Notes” app. It appealed to my pen and paper loving tendencies.
That said, there were a couple of things I didn't care for with the Palm Pre. It is slow to start up. This was a bit annoying during travel. Flight attendants insist you turn your phones off completely, not just to airplane mode, so powering back up at landing took too long for my preferences. Sadly apps for the Palm OS are not able to compete with those for the iPhone or even the Blackberry. It will be interesting to see if the recent acquisition of Palm by HP will change that. Battery life seems to be the same as with any smart phone I've used. If you have apps that update often (Twitter, Facebook,Foursquare) be prepared to charge the phone nightly. If you are very active on it during the day you will want to invest in a car charger or a spare charger for the office.
The Palm Pre Plus is $49.99 with a 2 year contract through Verizon Wireless. Connectivity charges are extra.
I'm just going to get this out of the way and say that I loved this netbook and really, really don't want to return it. This is a terrific product for travelers (or really busy moms) as it has a mobile broadband modem built in. No tethering to your phone necessary. And, as part of the Verizon network, I was able to get free wifi in areas you usually pay for it- like airports and Starbucks. Of course I could get regular free wifi, too, if it was available.
The screen images were crisp and clear and the keyboard felt almost “normal” size (I believe it's 92% of full size) so I wasn't mis-keying as much as I do on a smaller netbook. My girls loved it because it has enough power to play their favorite games (something our current netbook can't do) thanks to the NVIDIA ION with 895MB graphics memory.
This netbook comes with Windows 7 Home Edition, 1.6GHz processor speed, 2GB RAM and 160GB hard drive. That will hold a lot of vacation photos, notes, spreadsheets…. Connecting to the internat is quick with the VZ Access Manager.
My favorite feature: I was able to connect to the internet and work while driving. OK, my husband was driving, I was working in the passenger seat. The modem is also “global ready” for world travelers (a global plan is required).
My only problem with this computer was the touch pad. It didn't seem to respond well. I may have been able to fix that if it had bothered me too much.
The HP Mini 311 with mobile broadband modem is $299 with a 2 year contract. A 5GB connection package is $59.99 per month (really not that expensive if you travel quite a bit.)
Disclosure: I have been a Verizon customer for over 5 years (as an AT&T customer previously I have personally found that their coverage doesn't work many places my family ventures) and have been happy with their extensive coverage areas and products. The products I am talking about today were loaned to me by Verizon Wireless. I did not receive cash or product compensation for this post.