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Palm Pre: The Missing Manual 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596803704
ISBN-10: 0596803702
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Editorial Reviews

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If you bought this year's hottest smartphone, let USA Today personal tech columnist Ed Baig guide you through its many talents: cellphone, web browser, email, camera--you name it. This Missing Manual is packed with tips, tricks, and crystal-clear guidance.

New Apps Boost Your Pre’s Versatility
By Ed Baig

“Apps” are where it’s at these days when it comes to smartphones like the Pre. Short for “applications,” apps are the programs that add versatility to your phone, and help distinguish it from your neighbor’s. Apps include games, social networking programs, restaurant finders, business applications, and reference programs.
The Pre links to an online mall for applications (the App Catalog, which you get to by tapping the App Catalog icon in the Pre’s Launcher), where you download programs directly. You can try out an app before you buy it, though just about all of these early apps are free or “demo” versions (free to try).
Here’s a sampling of some apps added since Palm Pre: The Missing Manual was published:

CoinFlip: Heads you’ll like this app, tails you won’t. In a nutshell, that’s what CoinFlip is all about: randomly making decisions. Tap the virtual coin on the screen and it starts flipping until it lands on either heads or tails, complete with a little sound effect. Though there’s not much more to it than that, the app is great for those of you who simply can’t determine whether to go with choice A or choice B. Of course, there’s at least one decision CoinFlip asks you to make on your own—from the program’s preferences, you get to choose whether to make the virtual coin a half-dollar, a Susan B. Anthony dollar, or a penny.

Dumb Waiter What is it they say about a little service going a long way? Dumb Waiter is a tip calculator built on an age-old premise: How generous you are to your server is directly related to the kind of service you received from the person. The program, pictured above, lets you start out by entering the bill total and choosing a tip percentage (from 5 percent to 50 percent in five-percent increments). From there, things get more interesting. You get to rate the waiter according to several characteristics, all of which Dumb Waiter factors into the final suggested tip.

Translator: Janni Kovacs’ bases this handy app for tourists (or anyone who communicates with someone who speaks a foreign language) on Google’s translation services. You enter a phrase in English or any of 45 other languages (from Afrikaans to Welsh), and Translator parses the words on the fly, and you can text or email the translated phrase. (Though the app is free, Kovacs welcomes donations via PayPal.)

wikiHow: Ever wonder how to build an igloo? The Pre’s wikiHow application lets you search and browse more than 50,000 wikiHow articles and watch their embedded YouTube videos (the YouTube app on the Pre opens automatically). But the feature that just might help you out of jam is the wikiHow Survival Kit, where the topics include things like performing the Heimlich Maneuver on yourself and safely swimming with piranhas (no kidding).

Speed Brain: This “scientifically tested” brain-training game is supposed to give you a mental workout. A symbol appears on the screen, followed by a new symbol. Tap the Match button if the two symbols are identical or tap No Match if they’re not. You repeat this exercise for each subsequent symbol, which appears in rapid succession; a game lasts 45 seconds, then you can upload your scores to Twitter.

*If you found these Pre program profiles useful, you might want to check out Appendix B of Palm Pre: The Missing Manual. It provides an overview of the Apps Catalogue and profiles other Pre applications.

About the Author

Ed Baig writes the weekly Personal Tech column in USA TODAY's Money section (and at USATODAY.com). He's also co-host of the paper's Talking Tech podcast and the author of the latest edition of Macs For Dummies. He came to USA TODAY's Life section in 1999 and moved to the Money section in 2003. Previously, Ed spent 6 years working at Business Week, 3 at US News & World Report and nearly 12 at Fortune Magazine, covering at one time or another a range of subjects: personal technology, personal finance, leisure and travel industries, collecting, and more.

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Product Details

  • Series: Missing Manual
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (September 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596803702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596803704
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,967,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By M. Broderick VINE VOICE on October 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
When I first laid hands on this book, I came with a pre(heh)-existing idea that it would be very useful for people who had never used a smart phone before, especially if they were uninterested in poring over internet forums, but of little use to anyone else. I think my opinion on the first group was right on the money--This book will be very valuable for a new smartphone user who is able to learn things from reading. I do think my theory on the second group was too pessimistic--The book is more valuable for experienced users than I'd first thought!

Novice users will find that the book is an excellent aid for them. Text explanations are clear, and screen shots show the Pre screen at different steps. The appropriate screen shot is nicely located next to the relevant text. A novice could get along without this book by studying the (non-paper)manual carefully and checking out online videos and reviews about the Pre, and asking questions in internet forums. But having the book will make the learning phase much easier and less frustrating.

For those who are experienced with smart phones (I fall in that category, have owned a Palm of some sort since 1999 and a Treo since 2005), you don't really need this book. You will get along fine by feeling your way and drawing on your experience, supplemented by reading the (virtual) manual and perhaps some time in an internet forum or two. _BUT_ your journey to Pre-ville will be faster and easier if you spend some time going through this book. This is a much higher endorsement than I'd expected to give before reading the book.
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Format: Paperback
Consistent with other missing manual books, Palm Pre, The Missing Manual is a well written introduction to the Palm Pre, the new smart phone from Palm and Sprint.

The target for most smart phone makers is the iPhone, and this book often compares features of the two phones. It discusses the advantage that multi-tasking brings to a smart phone, as applications don't have to be closed to access other features of the phone. The various features and applications of the phone are presented in a breezy, conversational style.

Despite its small size, the Pre is an excellent smart phone, with many of the same capabilities as a laptop computer. There are many functions that are available that won't be immediately obvious to even the experienced smart phone user. Browsing through a book such as the Missing Manual will introduce most of these functions to you.

My Pre came with the equivalent of a quick start guide, I downloaded the manual from Sprint to compare with the Missing Manual. The Pre manual is arranged somewhat differently, though the information included is similar. I learned several things I wasn't aware of as I paged through the Missing Manual, those items are also found in the Sprint Manual. The Missing Manual focuses more on the "gee whiz" aspects of the phone, the Palm manual states the features in a more prosaic fashion

There is a 17 page index which is quite complete. If you download the Pre manual in PDF format, an index is superfluous as you can use the search function in the reader software in its place.

Neither manual is able to give an up-to-date description of apps in the Palm app store, they are beginning to appear rapidly, and the rate of their appearance will only increase.
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Format: Paperback
I'll start by saying that this book-- Palm Pre, The Missing Manual-- is a
must-have for any new Palm Pre owner. Sure, the pamphlet that comes with
the Palm Pre is adequate for getting you started and on your way, but there
are so many figurative nooks and crannies in the operation of the Palm Pre
that you won't even know about unless you've happened across them by
accident or you've read this book.

I've owned a Palm Pre since the first week it was available. A long-time
user of older Palm smartphones such as the Treo line and Centro, I
enthusiastically and anxiously followed the the technology news about the
forthcoming Pre. The concept of Synergy -- the Pre's software mechanism for
collecting data from various online sources such as GMail and Facebook into
centralized databases on the phone -- was incredibly appealing and
frightening at the same time. I often wondered if Palm really could pull it
off or if the Pre was going to be Palm's dying gasp and I would be left to
the mediocrity of Windows Mobile or Blackberry or the cult of conformation
using Apple's iPhone.

Thankfully, my experience with the Pre has given me hope. Being an early
adopter, I've had my shares of bumps along the way, but generally, the Pre
is an awesome device. Now that the Palm App Catalog is filling up with new,
exciting applications and there's talk of more operating system updates on
the horizon, I'm really enjoying myself with the Pre.

Let's get back to the book. Edward C. Baig's book seems fairly typical for
a "Missing Manual" book. It is fairly short, witty, funny, and packed full
of valuable information interspersed with plenty of callouts to "tips" and
"notes" along the way.
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