Palm Pre: What we know

Well, Palm's CES Press Conference has come and gone, and we now have our first look at the company's new smartphone – the Pre.  What do we know about Palm's new device?  We'll give you the rundown (and treat you to the photos we weren't supposed to liveblog) after the jump.  Also note: We'll have an exclusive hands-on with the Pre today at 3:30 PM PST.  Look for more on the Pre afterwards!  And be sure to check out, our new site for everything Pre.

Palm needed something big out of this press conference, and judging by the reactions of those in attendance, it looks like they delivered. The Palm Pre appears to be the first smartphone that challenges Apple on the same playing field – one totally touchscreen, web and media-centered device that aims to connect your life in every way possible.

The Pre comes packing Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and a "fast processor".  There's a 3.1 inch touchscreen with a display resolution of 320x480.  For you messaging types, there's a full QWERTY keyboard that slides out, placing the buttons at the bottom of the device.  The Pre also comes with a 3.0 megapixel camera, which uses an LED flash.  And who could forget music?  There's a 3.5mm headphone jack built into the side, meaning your current pair of headphones will work just fine with the Pre.  As far as storage goes, the Pre has 8 GB of it.

The operating system is what seems to have a lot of people really impressed.  There are touch-activated icons on the lower portion of the screen.  There's also a "gesture area" underneath the screen.  To access the Pre's menu, all you have to do is start in the gesture area and slide your finger up.  The Pre's developers really seem to have focused on a good multi-tasking experience, as well, and it shows.

The demonstrated calendar application seems very easy to use.  To add an event, simply tap on your free time and you can immediately start entering information.  Messaging was also demoed – all conversations are threaded, meaning your texts and IM messages to your friend are all listed in the same thread.

The development platform should have a lot people excited – it's easy and it's open.  CSS, HTML and Javascript will be the name of the game.  A few partner names were tossed out, such as Pandora, Google, Amazon, SplashData and TeleNav.

The Pre's initial wireless provider was also announced – the device will debut on the Sprint network.  Sprint's CEO, Dan Hesse, touted Sprint's network as the fastest 3G network in the country and referenced Gizmodo's national 3G test during his time on stage.

Unfortunately, no price for the Pre was mentioned, not even a ballpark.  The release date given – first half of this year – isn't that firm, either.  We're wondering how long Palm's exclusive partnership with Sprint is good for, and so far, they haven't commented.  I'm sure there are folks on other networks who are itching for a GSM version of the Pre, but no word on that, either.