Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Life for a Battery

Today HP launched its new line of formerly-Palm phones and a tablet, amidst a fair amount of fanfare in San Francisco this morning. Racecarnology's labs was eagerly awaiting the news, we've been fans of Palm since we first tethered a Palm Pilot Pro to a Nokia 2190 using an Option Snap-on adapter and used that rig to kick off a build back at work from the seat of a parked 1999 M Roadster.

While their connected organizer did a lot of connecting and organizing, it of course fell to the wayside with the Smartphone Revolution where Palm finally responded with it's Pre phones running WebOS. Which, due to a number of fatal flaws weren't able to save Palm's sovereignty and were absorbed by HP. This morning's event is the culmination of the many fantastic innovations that Palm were able to bring about, backed by the piles of cash that HP has to pour into them.

By Racecarnology's estimation, original Pre and Pixi were fantastic overall including:

- Incredible WebOS UI and integration
- Nifty sleek design
- Better than average camera on the Pre

But, as it happens, a few fatal flaws:

- Poor ability to ship and update the device on a timely schedule and get to new carriers
- Bizarre Marketing incapable of communicating WebOS's awesomeness to the common man
- Battery life

Which brings us to the new devices. Have HP rectified all the Palm-bound shortcomings? The ship dates announced look slightly long, likely a new iProduct or two will be announced before HP's new gizmos hit the street. But HP has the money to make it happen. So 'Maybe' for that one. HP's marketing efforts have been at least non-offensive in the past, and I take it as a success story that Racecarnology's labs have two HP laptops and an HP printer, so we'll admit they're doing something right there.

But here's the rub - Engadget's fine coverage of the event listed a spec comparison between the Pre 2 and Pre 3 that showed awesome bumps across the board...except for a 1,230mAh battery. A 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon is just great, but how long will this phone last with just slightly less power than a Nokia X6? Or just sightly more power than an HTC Aria?

The Veer looked particularly interesting too - we tend to gravitate to a smaller phone, helpful to take long while training for those long hot hours in a race car. But perplexing in the extreme - a non-removable 910mAh battery. WTF.

Reading that number, we flashed back to the days of yore when a just nine hundred and ten little milliamp hours could last a full work day and night. And it dawned - the Sony Ericsson K850i - a beloved gadget, that we used constantly, took great pictures with its Xenon 5MP shooter, we broadcast the start of the 2009 Le Mans directly from Le Sarthe over Qik, we Skyfired, we Fringed, we Google mapped, we made calls with excellent reception, we tethered over bluetooth, and we listened to MP3s with Mega Bass for hours on end, all on its tiny little BST-38 930 mAh battery.

And so, a comparison that you probably won't see anywhere else. The very latest WebOS Veer vs. the Sony Ericsson K850i:

Dimensions54.5 x 84 x 15.1mm102 x 48 x 17mm
Processor800MHz Qualcomm MSM7230200Mhz ARM926EJ-S
Display2.6-inch 400 x 3202.2-inch 240x320
Camera5 megapixel5MP, AF, Xenon/LED Flash
Storage8GB8GB via Micro SD or MSM
Cellular RadioGSM / HSPAGSM / HSPDA
Bluetooth2.1 + EDR2.0, AVCRP, A2DP
Touch to ShareYesNope
Battery Capacity910mAh non-removable930mAh removable

As always, statistics need to taken with a grain of salt. In no way are we suggesting the K850i is a match to nearly any modern OS smartphone, but given this information, how long will a Veer's battery last? Without some serious optimization, there could be netbooks out there with more talk time.

In short, we still love Palm, even now under HP's evil overlordishness. WebOS still has so much UI awesomeness about it. Their tablet looks great with WebOS, and their announced computers running WebOS ensure its innovativeness be around for some time to come. But if they want to sell a phone, they're going to need some near-magical levels of power optimization, pave every road with Touchstone chargers, or they're just plain going to need some bigger batteries.


  1. Loved your post...I'm a fan of Sony Ericcson phones, despite never having owned one, due to your enthusiasm for their products (and I respect your opinion entirely on this!)

    That being said, I'm not quite techie enough to understand all the finer points, but I think I got your message loud and clear...for now, I'll stick with my trusty-ish iPhone. :)

  2. @Blogger User - This afternoon's video of the Veer shows a really neat little device...I hope I'm wrong and it really does survive a day's work. I'm just doubting it at this point. Here's hopin'.