#PalmCrew Spotlight: Q&A with David LaRocque

The key to success for any company today begins and ends with its customers. Who are they? How are they using your product? What else do they want to see from your brand? Answering these key questions will help you learn and grow so that you can better serve your customers.

We already know that the #PalmCrew is special. We have absolutely loved hearing from you and learning about how you’re using Palm—where you’re taking it, how it helps you disconnect and how it enables you to spend more time with the people that matter.

We love following the #PalmCrew on social media to see how users are finding so many unique ways to get the most out of their Palm. People like David LaRocque, a web developer, business intelligence expert and devoted family man, are showing us just how versatile and helpful Palm can be. Here is David’s Palm story:

What caught your eye about Palm?

What was the motivation for wanting to purchase one? I’ve been longing for years for a small but powerful smartphone. I’m old enough to have used phones in the pre-iPhone era, when they were getting successively smaller as features and functionality slowly improved. The trend has been going the other way with the slab-screen phones, and they’re getting too big to comfortably use, particularly one-handed. My thumbs are jointed a bit differently, and screens bigger than 3.5” or so are impossible for me to hold and stretch my thumb up across the screen to use, without shifting the rest of my hand to make the reach. The Nokia Windows Phone actually didn’t cause much of a problem, because of that OS’s design to put most of the menu UI at the bottom of the screen instead of the top like iOS and Android do.

Other than my problematic thumbs, I also prefer my devices be as small as possible, but without sacrificing too much in performance and cost. For the last couple years, I’ve used the Galaxy S7, which today is considered a “small” phone. It was barely pocketable, but everything else equivalent is even bigger! My wife just upgraded her S7 to an S9, but I couldn’t get excited about going to a bigger phone. There are some smaller Android phones on the market, but with subpar performance and really not that much smaller.

palm gif

When Palm was first offered as a companion device, I was very interested, but not enough to pay the extra fees Verizon requires and reviews were unenthusiastic about battery life. Once both issues were addressed this spring, I felt it worth a try. I haven’t regretted it.

What was the primary phone you used?

I’ve migrated completely from my Samsung Galaxy S7 to the Palm.

What are the main ways you use Palm today? What do you use it for most?

I would characterize myself as primarily a PDA user, with a modern twist. While I like being connected, it’s not essential all the time, as I’m not a heavy social, streaming, or gaming user. I primarily communicate, follow news and weather, play music, and manage my work.

I’ve owned PalmOS, iOS, Windows Phone, and Android devices, and though I’m not an early adopter, I’m usually willing to pay more for good performance and a better phone camera. For my photography, I sold off my Canon system and switched to an Olympus to get much smaller gear with very similar results. My experience with the Palm has been very pleasant, with significantly better performance than the S7. The quality of the camera phone has become less important to me, as almost all modern cameras take good enough pictures and video in good light, and I’ll use my Olympus the rest of the time.

The Palm does hold its own and able to capture beauty on the spot (this dynamic range and the reds in the clouds are difficult to capture with any camera):

palm landscape

Also does great for selfies:

palm selfie

What are the first apps you downloaded on Palm? What are your favorite apps to use on Palm?

My first and most important apps are OneNote, Outlook, Plex, Harmony, and Pulse. I really like Palm’s launcher, and carefully considered which apps I installed. For apps on my S7 that I didn’t use often, and had a web page available, I didn’t bother installing. I spend most of my time at my house with my family and working from home. My phone goes in and out of my pocket a lot throughout any given day, which the Palm does so well.

Have you noticed an overall impact on how and when you’re using Palm compared to your old smartphone? My phone doesn’t drive my life; it’s a tool for getting work done, family managed, and media controlled. I don’t feel more or less distracted by the Palm also because I had most of my notifications disabled already.

Family is a huge deal for me, and I want my phone to help me with that. My wife and I have devoted our lives to working with foster and adoptive families. We have quite an interesting life with 12 adopted children and live in a former school in a tiny rural town. Our phones are lifelines as we support other families struggling with the unique challenges of raising kids from traumatic backgrounds. While my wife does the lion’s share of the communication and training, I’m more focused on managing the systems to support these efforts and our children at home. I manage home security and climate control, stream music and media, keep tabs on finances, and work full time in business intelligence. The Palm’s small size and fast performance make it that much easier and quicker to get things done and put it back away.

What is your favorite thing about Palm?

It’s so small – but so capable. When I first held it, it was way smaller and lighter than I even expected. I didn’t realize how the weight of the bigger slab phones made them so much more cumbersome. I continue to be impressed by how fast it is and how well it performs. Every app works great.

I also was surprised how much I liked the launcher. I do miss my weather and schedule widgets, but the flow of the launcher is very pleasant and quickly gets me to the apps I need. While I like the idea of the graffiti-style app lookup option, I tend to get to an app by remembering a screen location vs thinking of a name to enter.

I chuckled to myself the other day when I picked up the S7. First, how huge and heavy it feels. Second, I tried double-tapping the home button to get the home screen. I’ve quickly gotten the hang of the Palm’s tap/double-tap/hold functionality, and like it.

What would you like to see different or improved about the product?

I would like to see Verizon’s texting app drastically improved. I ended up downloading a different messaging app called Pulse to use in replacement.

I miss fingerprint authentication, but facial recognition works for me even though it’s not as particularly secure.

I would like to be able to remove the Google search box from the launcher, too.

What, if any, accessories are you using with Palm? How do you like them? What other accessories would you like to see?

I regularly use a Plantronics headset, which works as expected.

I’ve been using wireless chargers for years with my Nokia and Samsung phones, and it’s remarkably annoying to have to plug in a cable instead of setting the phone down. Yes, first-world problem, I know, but really transformative to a guy who regularly is up and down from his desk. That being said, I haven’t been nervous about running out of power, as I don’t run all day away from power, and the battery charges so quickly. Palm provided me with a free lanyard case when asking if I’d like to write about my experience. BTW the case is nice and slim, and slides in and out of my pocket easily. I haven’t yet used the lanyards, because when I’m not at my desk I’m usually working on something where that would just put the phone in my way.

How often do you use Life Mode on Palm? What are your experiences with using this feature?

I haven’t been interested in trying it. I configure my notifications already to get only what I want and have a very low volume of calls/messages anyway. The ones I do get are overwhelming from people important to me, which I want to make sure I know about as soon as possible.

I’ve tried background sync off and on but haven’t been short on the battery enough to warrant the inconvenience of leaving it off.

Would you recommend Palm to others?

Why or why not? Absolutely. I’ve been showing it off, and the most common response is a laugh. “It’s so small” and “It feels like a toy” are common. Older friends think they won’t be able to see anything on the small screen, which is unfortunate because it has better scaling options than I’ve seen on devices in a long time and is very easy on the eyes in my opinion. Many have wondered how I can type on Palm, but autocorrect is good and I switched to Google’s GBoard and regularly use swiping to type with good results.

Any other feedback you’d like to provide?

With all the recent buzz about humongous phones and foldable designs, I’m so relieved to have a rational option. I hope there are enough people like me to make your company succeed so we all have continued innovation in this space! Lastly, my kids think it’s cool this is a “Steph Curry” phone, LOL.

Huge thanks to David for sharing his feedback with us. We want to hear your Palm story - submit yours here. Haven't bought a Palm yet? Don't worry - you can get $50 off your Palm through the rest of June. Purchase your Palm companion or standalone today!