CES: More on the Palm Pre

After watching the entire walk-through of the new Palm webOS and its implementation on the Pre (pronounced Pree), it’s clear that its designers stole a lot of good ideas from other devices, including the multi-touch capability of the Apple iPhone.

But there a lot of good things the company appears to have developed on top of current cellular technology that could—if Palm succeeds in luring developers and customers back to the fold—change the way people think about smartphones.

The most unique thing about the new operating system and device is its ability to let you run a number of applications at the same time without having to either close one, or hit several buttons on the phone to back up to another app. It really does function like Windows or Apple computers (though Palm calls each open application a ‘card’). You could, for instance, be on the speakerphone and pull up your calendar to set a meeting and send a text to someone else to confirm.

Then there’s a neat feature dubbed synergy that doesn’t distinguish between contacts, calendars or messages from a number of sources, including a user’s Facebook contacts, a home or office PC Outlook program, email sources or instant messaging choices.

If the software works as promised (and other companies allow links), it truly can tear down the walls between the many sources of information and communication that we all use today.

Palm has chosen Sprint and its U.S.-based 3G network as its exclusive launch partner for the device, expected to hit shelves “sometime in the first half,” Palm CEO Ed Colligan says.

As I mentioned previously, it may not be the best choice for a company looking to stage a major comeback since Sprint is considered the weakest of the major national carriers. But it could give Palm time to work the kinks out of the new operating system, which some industry watchers say is being rushed to market before all the bugs have been completely worked out.

Even so, the reaction to Palm’s announcement has been extremely positive. Just about everyone I spoke to said they’re rooting for one of the industry’s underdogs. I certainly look forward to taking the Pre for a longer test run.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.