Could this be the smart phone I’ve been looking for?

Ever since the iPhone came out, I’ve been hoping for a smart phone that was a compromise between it and my Palm Treo.

I like the physical keyboard on my Treo. I like the fact that it does cut and paste. I like the fact that it can take an external data card. I like the fact that it has bazillions of third party applications. But I hate the slowness, the fact that it can’t even check for email in the background while you’re doing something else, and that the browser sucks. I hate the fact that it doesn’t have a decent music player.

On the other hand, the iPhone is sleek and beautiful. It has a truly beautiful hardware and software user interface. It does music excellently, as well as doing videos. It has a very good browser. It has third party apps, including a new version of my favourite flight planner CoPilot. It even has a built-in GPS. But it has a frustrating soft keyboard that doesn’t even have cursor keys, so you can’t move over a couple of letters to delete something wrong at the beginning of the word you just typed. It doesn’t have cut and paste.

For a while I thought the Google phone might be the answer, but the current incarnation, the G1, has other problems. The phone is clunky looking, and T-Mobile’s network isn’t very good around here – no 3G, and some pretty large gaps in even ordinary phone coverage out of town. Plus it seems like the gui isn’t very consistent between apps. It looks like a competitor to my ancient Treo, not to the iPhone.

But now I’m wondering if my answer might be just over the horizon, because the Palm Pre was just shown at CES. Very nice – it has a keyboard, it has multi-touch gestures, it has a new OS, it looks like a real iPhone competitor. Not beautiful like an iPhone, but not down right ugly like a G1. Plus it’s on Sprint, which has a family unlimited data plan that looks like we could both have smart phones for less than we’re currently paying on AT&T. The only open questions in my mind are whether the music player is any good, if it has cut and paste, and if it’s compatible with existing Palm apps.