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September 18, 2009 News 3 Comments

Pre & Me

A little while ago, I posted a piece where I mentioned my newly acquired Palm Pre. In my role as a grunt in the trenches pediatrician, I am familiar with the terrain of the un-hip. Pediatrics has long been considered the red-headed stepchild of medicine, often used to promote good will and charitable giving, but never funded or reimbursed with the robust enthusiasm provided to surgeons or radiologists. Rural medicine provides yet a further layer of “you’re not really as good as the big guys” to my repertoire of un-hiptitude.

Thus, perhaps it is in keeping faith with my pattern of life choices that I decided to forego any Apple attitude adjustment and buy the underdog Palm Pre. (Well, I also read a bunch and received a great going-under-the-covers review from an amazing hacker I know in Boston who broke down the pluses and minuses of the iPhone vs. Blackberry vs. Pre, but that detracts from my rep of un-hipness, so we’ll pretend I didn’t actually make a smart choice based upon research and investigation).

Despite some initial misgivings about Sprint’s signal coverage and battery life, I continued to push through the envelope of this new techno-toy. After a mere six weeks, I am so very happy to report that Pre & Me are now true BFFs. I love this little guy, plain and simple. I have so much fun with, and am so enabled by, the integrative design of the features and functionality of my new hip-mate (referring to my belt clip carriage of the Pre, not a pretense to iPhone ego equality) that I find myself using my desktop PCs less often. In fact, far less often.

Some of the cool tools even inspire moments of “Pre envy” in my desktops or laptops or pen tablets. I wish they all were as utilitarian and Zen-like in their design considerations. I now see that those contemplatory eggs gracing the desktops of the Palm Pre’s designers added value and some feng shui focus for the chi of these genii.

The battery issue required a few extra chargers around and an enhanced awareness of usage patterns, but the simplicity of the Touchstone inductive charger has such a coolness to it that slapping it onto the sloped, magnetic, easy on/off base is a mini moment of geek fun. Keeping several chargers about has allowed me the freedom to experience in full-blown glory the multi-open-apps power of the Pre. Zipping from tool to toy to tunes is easier than on a PC and finger-flick fun. (You iHipsters know what I mean.)

I still hope the planned cell tower I see on Sprint’s map of coming attractions just outside of my little burg is a sooner rather than later construction project. Still, though my bars are more often 0-2 than 4-5, I’ve had far less connection troubles than the absence of bars initially implied. The value add of this little beauty has virtually blinded me to any continuing cell signal coverage concerns.

The App Store for the Pre is small, yes, but it’s growing. If you’re brave enough to try homebrew apps and open up the developer mode function, there are many more available. I won’t bore you here with the laundry list of cool tool apps I adore as the gazillion iPhone apps available expose the Johnny-Come-Lately limitations of Pre App unhipness yet again.

However, I will leave you with one rather interesting observation. At a weekend business meeting of some pretty amazing techno mega-minds where most were iPhone adept and enabled, and despite a comment or two about my meager little Pre pal, I did catch more than a couple of my iHip colleagues glancing over my shoulder as a finger danced with my new BFF. Perhaps most amusingly, I also heard more than a few quiet wows! leak out, though they were obviously muffled to avoid any loss of iStreet Cred.

PS – Though it isn’t certified compatible, I should note that I am able to access my web-based EHR from my Pre. The Calendar function is limited, but patient data is accessible … not iHip, maybe, but cool enough for this geek in the trenches doc.

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.” – Leo Tolstoy

Dr. Gregg Alexander is a grunt-in-the-trenches pediatrician and geek. His personal manifesto home page…er..blog…yeh, that’s it, his blog – and he – can be reached through http://madisonpediatric.com or doc@madisonpediatric.com.

Comments 3
  • If you have not already done so, Dr. Alexander, you should call up Sprint and inquire about Airave. It’s a femtocell, a small appliance that uses your broadband connection to create a small cell tower just for your home or office. A lot of folks have had success getting the device for free (normally $99) due to poor coverage. For $10 each month, you get unlimited calls in addition to the improved reception when in range of the Airave.

  • Re: Airave

    Yes, I did check out the Airave. Seemed like a good answer, but ran into 4 main problems:
    1) A Web-run revealed a diversity of answers from Sprint to various customers. Some could get them free, some got the monthly fee removed, some got both. Four separate Sprint reps gave us four different answers. Even a supervisor started out sounding like he was going to “fix it” only to return with a “Sorry, can’t help you.” Seems Sprint can’t decide how to handle this.
    2)The monthly fee just doesn’t sit well. I pay for “Everything” plus I have a couple of the MiFi 2200s that cost per month, too. It’s an internal ethical thing: I want my “Everything Plan” to be EVERYTHING.
    3) The Airave only does CDMA, though I hear an EVDO femtocell is nearly out.
    4) It drops your call if you move into its range while on a call as you walk into its area, though it does maintain your call if you start with it and move into tower range.

    Overall, the limitations don’t bother me nearly as much as the benefits endear me. Thanks, though, for the thought, Justen.

  • I agree with your points on the monthly fee. If you do already have the Simply Everything plan for $99, and if you’re still interested in Airave, you should definitely consider calling Sprint’s executive relations department (at 866 727-0665). They should have no problem arranging for a free Airave with no monthly service fee, given the fact that you’re a higher revenue account. (Wouldn’t hurt to mention that Verizon offers the same service for free, which they call “Network Extender”).

    I have also heard the rumours about the EV-DO femtocell being expected before the end of the year. The handoff situation is disappointing, but it is one of the drawbacks of the way the CDMA femtocell technology was developed. The related Wi-Fi-based UMA/GAN technology that T-Mobile uses for GSM allows handoffs in both directions, but is only compatible with certain handsets (mostly BlackBerry devices).

    The other alternative is a CDMA amplifier, but they’re a bit more expensive and a tad more difficult to setup…

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