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  1.    #1  
    MONDAY, JUNE 4, 2007


    June 4
    D-Lightful: a Tech Conference to Remember May 28 Sometimes, It's a Numbers Game MORE SEARCH PAST COLUMNS

    D-Lightful: a Tech Conference to Remember

    Our Gadget of the Week

    After the Gates/Jobs love-in, the biggest buzz at the conference probably was over Palm's introduction of a new device called the Foleo. As I noted in a series of posts on my blog, the Street had been speculating for weeks about the appearance at D by Palm founder Jeff Hawkins, who had promised to unveil a new third category of device for the company to go along with its PDAs and Treo smartphones. Much of the speculation centered on the possible introduction of an ultramobile PC, which was almost but not quite right.

    Palm describes the Foleo as a "mobile companion." It looks like a small laptop, with a full-sized keyboard and small LCD Screen; it is the same width as the Lenovo ThinkPad X60 I am using to write this column, but slightly thinner and about two-thirds as high. But it isn't quite a full-fledged laptop.

    For starters, it runs Linux, not Windows. It has no hard drive, just flash storage, although the company won't say how much. It has some sort of embedded processor as a brain, rather than the X86 chips that power most laptops. The company thinks of it as a way for mobile travelers to do e-mail and browse the Web; the laptop links to your smartphone via Bluetooth, and then syncs up with the e-mail on your device. (It doesn't go directly to Exchange or other back-end e-mail systems.) The device can use WiFi to access the Internet. The Foleo is priced at $599, though it will be $499 initially after a $100 rebate.

    THE CONSENSUS AT THE SHOW WAS that the Foleo was a monumental dud: Too pricey to be a companion to a cellphone, but not full-featured enough to replace a full-powered laptop. It didn't help that Hawkins performed one of the all-time bad demos; he talked about the device for 10 minutes before actually demonstrating it; half-way through, people were streaming to the exits. It looked like the 7th inning of a blowout at Chavez Ravine.

    For months now, there have been rumors on the Street that Palm might be up for sale; theoretical suitors include Motorola (MOT) and Nokia (NOK) and various private-equity firms, but the chatter has faded lately. I would not be surprised to see the rumors mill heat up again, though. The Foleo is looking like a loser, which could trigger increased conviction that the company's Treo phones could gain wider acceptance in the hands of a handset maker with deeper pockets.
  2. #2  
    I still can't wait to see it.
    Palm III-->Palm IIIxe-->Palm 505-->Samsung i300-->Treo 600-->PPC 6600-->Treo 650-->Treo 700wx-->BB Pearl--> BB Curve

  3. #3  
    Well T2, I too can't wait to see it. I am a monumental skeptic but I will look at it. I have gadget lust and the "Oooooh, shiny!" can get to me.

    I don't want to carry two things around though. And if I am carrying around a second thing it had better do everything I need include shine my shoes.

    This whole Foleo episode convinces me all the more that I don't want to carry my laptop around. And I have a really lightweight laptop -- the Dell X1.

    I just need my smartphone (which is currently the 750). I'm going to experiment with this for a while -- next week to Sacramento, the week after to S. F., then to N. Y., all trips of a couple of days duration only. No lappy, just the 750. My main problem is what to do with 25GB of music/podcasts/audio books/etc. MiniSD cards are puny.

    If that works, then no matter what the metaphysical and technological merits of the Foleo . . . I don't need it. Jeff Hawkins' original vision will have proven correct -- a small smartphone in my pocket, a couple of spare batteries, and I'm golden. Anywhere in the world.
  4. #4  
    Yeah, my laptop is a widescreen and it weighs more than what I would want. More than anything, I want palm to come out with something that is truly revolutionary (obviously it helps keep the competition moving forward). There are times where I am already carrying around two items but I try not to.

    Except during finals, I type up all my notes/emails/etc. on my treo and the ir keyboard...really helps keep the weight down.
    Palm III-->Palm IIIxe-->Palm 505-->Samsung i300-->Treo 600-->PPC 6600-->Treo 650-->Treo 700wx-->BB Pearl--> BB Curve

  5. #5  
    "Ooooh shiney" ... that's good.

    On day 1, I was almost totally disheartened by the Foleo. But as I have begun to think of it, I have said to myself and others for years "something has to be done about this rediculous PC bondage that we live under." I don't mean a MAc either. Instant on and once alive "zen of Palm" are exactly the answer. These things addicted me in less than 1 hour to my first Palm, the IIIe SE.

    When traveling for my business, I often take week-longs. Being a road warrior leaves me with the decision each time before I leave ... "do I wanna lug the Dell slugtop or just depend on the Treo 680? Lately, I've been opting more and more for the Treo only.

    But, it hit after about 48 hours that "wow, this could work for me". Drop it in a little zip pouch and throw it under the front seat. Whip it out to instantly (yes, instantly) check e-mail or web during business, on the road, or in the hotel and all with 5 hours battery, and all synced real-time with the Treo on my hip! No power brick to keep nearby (with 700P batteries, the charger should rival a phones, not a PCs), no melted thighs from the 5lbs of Intel induced heat, no sluggish HDD architecture, no tweaking the setting of the day to get a reliable BT DUN connection etc. If Hawkins and company have truly made it work efficiently and as no-nonsense as a Palm Pilot, then I may go for it.

    No, it won't win any features battles. That is the fartherest thing from the point here. I'm looking for productivity, not the ability to run 3D gaming and burn a DVD in the background. Can it really instantly, stably, and effectively handle business communications anywhere in a compact package without another Windows induced headache? If so, this could work.

    What must come quickly tho. Multimedia. I don't mean full-frame DVD either. I mean the kind of graphics, video, and audio sprinkled all over the web. Will it truly handle Java, Flash, and all the other "full featured" multimedia presented online these days? If not, then they've got serious issues. True web usage is not just HTML anymore. If they can handle all the multimedia web hurdles like the demo showed it devouring that .PDF, then Foleo could be a winner.

    Foleo is the beginning, not the end. I believe this is vital to understanding the "why" of this announcement. The possibilities of this platform boggle the mind tho, IMHO. Hawkins says it's not a laptop replacement. And in this iteration, it's not. But logically he knows it's designed as a revolution in the years to come that could help make the current "Byzantine era" laptop tech obsolete. Even he does not want to sound so brazen as that.

    The scariest part tho, is that the company trying to pull this off is the same one whose OS still has a 1K clipboard limit, and no real Treo innovation since they were called Handspring, about 2 or 3 names ago.
    Last edited by LiveFaith; 06/03/2007 at 01:51 AM.
    Patrick Horne
  6.    #6  
    FWIW the girl host on G4 TV saw the Foleo and before the guy explained what it was she said "oohh I want one" This was last night on G4.
  7. #7  
    Bluetooth connected.

    Everyone knows the BT stack/implementation on the Treo SUX.

    On the Palm OS it's poor and on WM5 it's marginal.

    Now rely on this with the TOA?


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