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Palm Pre 2: is HP simply clearing the way for the PalmPad?

Palm Pre 2: is HP simply clearing the way for the PalmPad?

Idle chatter about the Palm Pre 2 has now reached a tipping point, with FCC approval in the US, French network SFR confirming the site and now bloggers on the other side of the channel claiming that the first webOS 2.0 phone will be launched “within days”.

It had been widely assumed that the Pre 2 would make its debut at CES next January, the traditional place for Palm to tout its webOS wares and somewhere where all the world’s tech press can coo at its latest offering. But the early signs suggest that the Pre 2 will not be a major upgrade from the Pre Plus, first unveiled earlier this year.

palm pre 2 screen

The 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM and inclusion of webOS 2.0 show this will undoubtedly be a nippier and more nimble handset. But its arrival now suggests HP and Palm are clearing the way for something a lot more significant: namely the PalmPad webOS tablet.

It’s a clever move: this way, the Palm Pre 2 lands just as everyone’s getting over the excitement of Windows Phone 7 and around the same time as key updates to Android and iOS are being rolled out.

Crucially, the first webOS 2 device will hit shelves well ahead of MeeGo. Peter Skillman, the man behind webOS, is now working on Nokia’s next-gen smartphone operating system. So, does this mean the Pre 2 is a bit of an appetiser, or will it be the real deal?

It’s hard to tell with limited leaked specs, but early pics show that apart from a flatter screen, the hardware is much the same as before. It’s to be hoped that HP has helped Palm strengthen the handset, because its plastic frame was barely a match for its smartphone rivals.

palm pre 2 side

There’s no doubting though that software will be the focus here, as webOS 2.0 shows the way and proves itself to be one of the best and most underrated operating system’s available. It will be fascinating to see it in action and work out just how it will function on the PalmPad going forward.

Make no mistake: the PalmPad is a big deal. It will be the device HP will be desperate to get out and show off, proving that it can compete in the tablet space after the stillbirth of its Windows 7 slate. The Pre 2 will show what we can expect, but that certainly doesn’t make it any less exciting. It’s great to finally have Palm back at the smartphone top table.

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