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  1.    #1  
    Touchstone has recently won a Red Dot design award, and I think most of us can agree that the Media would have been full of the Revolutionary, Magical awesomeness of simply laying your phone down to charge it as opposed to fiddling around with a cable if only Apple had had the idea first, i.e. had they given Ruby more freedom so he would've stayed.

    But now that our little quirky Palm has entered the warm, strong embrace of HP, I'm kinda afraid for the future of everybody's favourite webOS accessory. As a non-technical person that slaps himself every day for not having paid attention in physics class, I don't understand the underlying mechanisms all that well, but I'm wondering whether Palm may not have engineered themselves into a corner here, whether HP may not decide that they need to leave that corner (if indeed a corner it is), and whether that decision wouldn't actually make a lot of sense.

    When iPhone 3GS came around and introduced a compass, people were laughing, and I'll admit that I was one of them. But it quickly turned out that there is a very simple killer app for an integrated compass. If you've ever used an iPhone to navigate around a city, you will know how much easier a Google Map that actually turns as you turn can make things. It's just a little feature that's easily forgotten, but so are a lot of really great things. As it is right now, the lack of a compass is one of the only things that unexpectedly bother me about my sweet, beautiful Pre. And while I don't really care, a lot of people express qualms about the fact that Pre is made from plastic, which makes it feel cheap (while the iPhone is made from plastic, which apparently makes it feel awesome).

    Now, I know that there are gyrocompasses that cannot be buggered up by metal or magnets, but I'm not sure at all if you can build one on a scale that would fit into a mobile phone; all I know is that the iPhone has a magnetometer. Wouldn't using a touchstone freak that sort of solution up? So is it possible that sticking to the touchstone way of doing things may prohibit webOS devices from getting a compass and/or a solid metal body (unless it's made from some non-ferromagnetic metal of course)?

    It may sound weird, but of all the "revolutions" that Apple has been blabbering about and that the Press has gladly regurgitated thousand upon thousands of times, the only one that was really a revolution was the inclusion of that dang compass - ironically, something that everybody laughed at. I want a compass in my next phone as it makes navigation just that much easier. But I'm afraid that the technology used for compasses in mobile phones will be incompatible with the touchstone - another thing that I want to keep using with my next device.

    If the two are mutually exclusive, I think that HP will probably make the simple business decision of dropping a feature that nobody talks about despite its obvious benefits in favor of a feature that is quickly becoming a sort of standard fixture in modern high-end smartphones. Already we're seeing a lot of people complain that their stupid Pre can't do something that an iPhone can do while completely forgetting or discounting the things their Pre can do that the iPhone can't.
    It's just a matter of coolness - and in that, the iPhone can simply not fail. A feature that the iPhone has is cool by association. A feature that the iPhone doesn't have can't be all that interesting, because if it was, "the iPhone would have it".

    So, what do you think? Is the touchstone going to stick around for the next generation of 2011+ HPalm offerings? Do you even care?
  2. #2  
    Huh. I'd never thought about that. And I have to say, if facing a choice between a compass and the Touchstone, I'd opt for the compass. Augmented reality will become more important as time goes on, and a platform that doesn't support it will be at a significant disadvantage (as the current Pre/Pixi are). If I had to guess, HP would probably implement a true docking port for next-gen devices (and not the next Palm device in the pipeline) instead.

    Really, plugging into my Pre isn't that big a deal, and it's really only made a bit inconvenient by the cover. A dock could provide the same essential ease of plugging in while also providing other options such as A/V out and such.
    Treo 600 > Treo 650 > HTC Mogul (*****!) > HTC Touch Pro (***** squared!) > PRE! > Epic
  3. #3  
    Why would they be mutually exclusive? Even if the touchstone creates enough of a magnetic field to interfere with the compass, like any electromagnet it would only have a magnetic field while current is passing through it (i.e: while it's charging). Disabling the compass while charging wouldn't be too much of a problem as you're unlikely to be trying to navigate while charging (the exception being traveling by vehicle but we *should* have proper GPS to cover that).
  4. #4  
    I'd understood (just never made the connection) that there's a permanent magnet in the Touchstone cover.
    Treo 600 > Treo 650 > HTC Mogul (*****!) > HTC Touch Pro (***** squared!) > PRE! > Epic
  5.    #5  
    Hmmm... what if Touchstone 2.0 had a stronger magnet and the magnet inside the Touchstone back covers was swapped out for a simple hunk of ferromagnetic metal? In that case, wouldn't it be possible to automatically have the compass switch off as soon as the magnet comes close? The metal would still let the device stick to the stone then... Or would the metal inside the cover be enough to noticeably modify the compass readings?
  6. #6  
    I'm thinking speakers have perma magnet as well.
  7. #7  
    My understanding of the Touchstone was that the magnet only functioned in respect to getting the phone to "stick" to the "sweet spot," so that whatever charging technology they use would be lined up to function correctly.

    Think of a transformer in an electronic circuit. If you look at the schematic diagram for that transformer, you'll see that the transformer is "gapped." Yes, power makes its way from one side to the other by way of an electromagnetic field generated by flowing electrons/current, but they are shielded to protect the surrounding electronics. I'd imagine that the same applies here... shielded protection. Otherwise, would the magnetic field not show visible interference on the Pre's screen?

    Personally, I'd be perfectly happy with a "cradle-type" charger for the Pre if they decided to ditch the Touchstone. Similar to current cordless phones with the metal contacts on the base. My primary reason for loving the Touchstone is that I don't have to mess with the "epitomy of all-time design flaws", i.e. that darn USB cover. As long as I don't have to physically plug something into the phone to charge it, I'm happy.
  8. #8  
    If HP is SMART (and I suspect they are), they'll leverage the Touchstone technology into a number of accessories, all of which will further differentiate Palm/HP from the others. I foresee a Touchstone car charger, Touchstone desktop charger with integrated speakers for music playback, and ?? other products.

    Having just installed a Touchstone in my car today, I can vouch for it's extreme practicality in that setting (although a design which secures the phone better to prevent it from becoming a projectile would be worthwhile).
  9. #9  
    IMO, the TS is an awesome idea, for the most part, anyone that have used a Touchstone cannot go without them now. Such an old fashioned concept, plugging your phone up to a wire to charge it. For sure the next generations of Palm devices will have Touchstones.
  10. djmcgee's Avatar
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    The magnetism involved in inductive charging would preclude touchstone car charging and having access to a compass.

    I too think the Touchstone is on the way out. As phones get larger and require more juice it is going to be difficult for inductive charging to keep up without overheating the device. Of course, there could be improvements....
  11.    #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by UntidyGuy View Post
    The touchstone is a gimmick, and not a very effective one at that. The fact is that nobody really wants to buy another device to sit on your desk that needs to be plugged in. [...] Of all of the new smartphones that have been announced or launched over the past 17 months, none have seen fit to add this feature that didn't help Palm take-off.
    1.) People are buying docks for their phones that sit on their desks and need to be plugged in. Touchstone is a dock.

    2.) All of the new Palm smartphones introduced since the Touchstone was released have made use of the technology. It's a Palm-specific solution. Of course no other manufacturer is going to use it.
  12. #12  
    Like many I have a touchstone in my car and while it may not allow a compass to work it doesn't need it as with the slightest of movement it knows which direction your pointed.

    If it is not possible it would be a downside to not have virtual reality location based apps in the future, but today I wouldn't trade my touchstone for any other accessory.

    I would wager the majority that think the touchstone is a gimmick do not own / have not used a touchstone.
  13. #13  
    Palm should license the touchstone to propagate it as a standard. I just bought a fist full of Touchstones at the radio-shack close out, and Instantly I started wondering if it will work with whatever new phones Palm comes out with.

    Meanwhile my iPhone friends are starting to buy cases that have a touchstone-like charging capability built in. Talk about expensive/clunky/expensive... But anything that works with an iPhone is on their must-have list...

    Case-Mate's Hug wireless iPhone charging solution shipping now for $100 -- Engadget

    Lord Steve somehow missed the coolness of the touchstone idea, and I can't believe that iPhone add-on is selling... but it is.

    I sure hope all the Pre+ accessories I've been accumulating will still work with the next Palm phone I buy (in about two years). I loved the fact that most of the stuff I bought for my first treo worked on every treo and my Centro...

    I hope that's true for the current wall and phone chargers, and the Touchstone now that I have so many...
  14. #14  
    I'll take the TS over a compass anyday. It makes it so easy to charge and unlike other phones I don't need a huge *** case for it.
  15. #15  
    The touchstone + car mode (mode switcher app) allows me to charge my phone and have the bluetooth automatically turn on every time it is on the touchstone in my car.

    Saves me so much hassle.
  16. Obscura's Avatar
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    I love the Touchstone, so much I bought one for the desk and one for the truck. If it's used with future models, I'll no doubt buy a third for my cube.
  17. #17  
    I'd rather have the Touchstone.
    Achill3s' Palm Pre: Modded and patched to death!!
  18. scottw911's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obscura View Post
    I love the Touchstone, so much I bought one for the desk and one for the truck. If it's used with future models, I'll no doubt buy a third for my cube.

    I just bought my third dock and cable yesterday. One at home, one in the car and one for the office.

    This is the best accessory I've ever owned. TS over compass any day.
  19. #19  
    Quote Originally Posted by scottw911 View Post

    I just bought my third dock and cable yesterday. One at home, one in the car and one for the office.

    This is the best accessory I've ever owned. TS over compass any day.
    I'm just afraid to mount it in my car if it will eventually not work with my next phone... so for now it just sits on the console.
  20. #20  
    what they need to do is make some apps that take advantage of the touchstone like a news ticker or a sports score app or maybe some kick *** screen saver make the touchstone elite and those that just plug it in are jellous of us that have it.
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