Sporting a 10inch screen and full-size keyboard, Palm’s new device called Foleo — which the company’s founder Jeff Hawkins talked up as a new product category in itself — is essentially a note-pad-sized laptop, designed specifically to dynamically sync with and compliment the computing power of a smart-phone. The problem that Palm is attempting to solve is that no matter how powerful cell phones have become, there are times when a larger screen and proper keyboard makes more sense — such as composing emails, editing a spreadsheet, or using web apps.
While the device can be used stand-alone — it has built-in WiFi and a suite of applications that run on a version of the Linux OS — the Foleo’s unique positioning is that upon connecting to your smart-phone (via Bluetooth), email is automatically synced, giving you full-screen access to your in-box, and any mail you send (or receive) is then accessible on both devices. The same applies for other data such as your contacts and schedule. Connectivity for the Foleo is provided either via your phone or with the built-in WiFi.
The key take-aways:
- 10-inch screen and full-size keyboard
- Instant on, instant off
- One-button access to full-screen email
- Web search and browsing via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi
- Runs a version of Linux, and the Opera browser
- Editors for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus a PDF viewer
- Lightweight at 2.5 pounds
- 5-hour battery life
- USB port, video-out port, headphone jack, and slots for SD and compact flash cards for memory expansion.
- Linux OS allows for easy application development
In a live webcast / conference call, Jeff Hawkins was asked if the Foleo was in fact positioned to be a laptop replacement. In testing users found that for many tasks the device does negate the need to carry around a conventional laptop, but Hawkins admitted that while the Foleo can accomplish lots of daily computing tasks, the processor isn’t powerful enough to playback online video for example.
Initially the Foleo will work with all of Palm’s smart-phones, and most other Windows mobile devices. In the future the company hopes to be able to support phones based on Research in Motion’s OS, Symbian devices, and Apple’s iPhone. Additionally, the Foleo is an “open design” and Palm says it will be actively supporting third-party developers.