Archive for May, 2007

I Love the Palm Foleo

Palm Foleo with the Treo SmartphoneThe game changing news to come out of the computing world today is not the Microsoft tabletop computer, but rather the Palm Foleo. The idea is something that has been a pet project of mine for some time now, and Palm got it 70% right in my opinion. Ultraportable devices have been around for some years, with Sony making some amazing models, usually exclusively sold in Japan. As with all things geek, eventually the truly great ideas start trickling down into the mainstream. Let’s start with what I like about the device:

  • Smartphone companion: So you can edit the same documents and share files, natural and instant syncing via bluetooth. Messaging inbox sharing and other goodies too.
  • Selling this as a new class of computer. Not trying to do everything at once.
  • Instant On! No waiting for it to boot up. Excellent. Very consumer electronic-ish and uncomputer-ish.
  • Reasonable good price point: < $500. I would have knocked off a 100 more off the price, especially if you already have a Palm phone, but then I think the current price is still within limits of reason.
  • Focus on the internet: Documents are mundane. The killer app for the Foleo is the internet. Connectivity over WiFi and bluetooth for (probably) using the smartphone as a modem means that you can always be online, anywhere.

What I don’t like about the Foleo focuses less on the specifications (full specs are yet to come out, really) and more on the positioning of the product.

  • Runs Linux: I know i’ll get flack for this, but Windows still sell’s. Yet, they could twist this to their own advantage by not even calling the Foleo a “Laptop”, but rather a personal productivity device.
  • Poor Battery life: 5 hours of juice when running WiFi might be a lot of a laptop user, but most subnotebook users get that much already with smart power management. I remember the old old (2001?) HP Jornada 720 used to get almost 9 hours of battery. Sure, the screen is bigger here and the connectivity options grander, but hey, 6 years is a lifetime in this business and they should be able to offer the same battery at the very least.
  • “Laptop”: At the unveiling, some Palm personnel kept calling the Foleo a “laptop”. Is that the best they can do. They have laptops retailing at WalMart that are cheaper and faster, and you have laptops that are smaller (Vaio, etc.). They DO NOT want to go there with this. This is more like a supplement to your smartphone and full fledged desktop/laptop, a little device you can carry on trips/to meetings/to school so that you can remain productive on the go without carrying a heavy laptop around.

Palm needs as much good news as it can possibly get at the moment. But will the Foleo deliver the goods? Comments on the usual tech blogs have been bleak, but they usually tend to be so towards things aimed at the mass market (and not made by Apple). Anyways, the idea is to passionately appeal to 20% of users rather than be something 70% might consider maybe. Personally, I don’t think this is enough to save Palm as an independent company, but its definitely a step in the right direction after several false mis-starts (read: UMPC) in the ultramobile personal computing segment. Will be keeping an eye on this one.

May 31, 2007 at 3:02 am 1 comment


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