Analysis of HP's Latest Sneak Peak Video

Over the past month, a seemingly endless parade of information has trickled out in advance of HP's big WebOS event next week. While some of the dropped hints have been official and other bits were apparently leaked by insiders, the vast majority of the online chatter has been centered around HP's WebOS-powered tablets. Yesterday, however, HP unveiled a tantalizing series of macro shots via an 8-second YouTube video on the heretofore-quiet Palm Blog of what is presumably a next-generation smartphone due to be announced next week

Entitled "Ready to peek into the beyond?" the blog post is light on tease on short on hard info. Nevertheless, the sleek photography gives several clues of some upcoming new hardware.

First off, my initial impression of the device is that it follows the basic design aesthetic of the existing Palm handsets, though less glossy and possibly even a bit thicker; the now-forgotten Treo Pro and its chunkier elder sibling the Treo 800w came most immediately to mind when I saw these images. This is definitely not a Pre 2, though discussion among the Palm faithful seems split if this is going to be candybar-style virtual keyboard (such as the rumored "Manta" or "Mansion") or device or another QWERTY slider.

The various images in the spot seemingly show the same section of the handset from several different angles. The most readily identifiable item in the images is the device's camera, apparently rather similar in styling to the current Pre and Pixi lenses, though the apparent lack of an LED flash is indeed troubling, though it could simply be off-camera. Eagle-eyed fanatics on other sites are reporting that this is definitely an autofocus camera, so the days of the fixed-focus Pre and Pixi cameras are a thing of the past. In fact, this would be the first Palm-related device to have an autofocus camera since 2003's Sony CLIE NZ90 and the first-ever "Palm" device with an autofocus camera.

Of course, given that the current Pre 2 carries a flush, Gorilla Glass capacitive touchscreen, this appear to be a certainty on the new device as the delineation between the screen area and the front bezel area is quite apparent. On what is presumably the top corner of the device, there looks to be a volume rocker and the traditional Palm ring/mute switch.

Another hotly-debated item is the line of five metallic silver rings surrounded by black plastic. In my opinion, this not a second-generation Touchstone back but rather a bottom or side-mounted, breakaway magnetic connector ala recent Apple MacBooks.

My personal feeling is that the particular device shown in the images to be an enlarged, refined version of the existing Pre form factor, with a larger screen and keyboard and with the removable battery possibly being canned in the interest of cost, size, and weight savings.

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