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The Future of Mobile Computing? Palm’s Folēo, a mobile companion for Treo Smartphones. August 14, 2007

Posted by Mike in Business, Hardware, Technology.
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Foleo and Treo 

The answer is NO.  It’s not the future of mobile computing.  Palm has scrapped plans for the Foleo.  Read all about it on Palm’s official blog. 

As Palm sees it, smartphones like the Treo are the wave of the future. Small devices packed with information and capabilities. However, these über-smart devices have two key limitations: small screens and small keyboards.

The solution? A mobile companion device called Folēo that turns on in an instant and offers users a 10″ screen and a full QWERTY keyboard.

Is it a laptop? No.

It uses Bluetooth to wirelessly sync your emails from your Treo to the Folēo so you can view them and respond to them on a big screen with a full keyboard.

It also allows you to edit MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents as well as display PowerPoint presentations.

I have yet to see the device in person and I do not believe they are for sale yet. However, Palm claims the device turns on in an instant (no need to boot up like Windows). It also has 5 hours of battery life.

You can read all about it on Palm’s web site.

After viewing an online demonstration and reading some of the fine print, here is what I’ve learned about Folēo:

PROS

  • Big Screen
  • Big Keyboard
  • Long Battery Life
  • WiFi capability
  • Attachment support includes viewing and editing Microsoft® Word, Excel® and PowerPoint® files with DataViz® Documents To Go®. You can also view PDF documents as well as JPG, GIF, and PNG images.

CONS

  • Attachment support only includes viewing and editing Microsoft® Word, Excel® and PowerPoint® files with DataViz® Documents To Go®. You can also view PDF documents as well as JPG, GIF, and PNG images.
  • Requires compatible phone with Bluetooth® wireless technology.
  • Email requires data services on the phone from a mobile service provider at an additional cost.
  • Does not support local or streaming video.

UNKNOWN (to me, at least)

  • Any USB ports?
  • Any video adapters for connecting to a projector?
  • How much does it weigh?

Even with these cons and unknowns, I’m still intrigued by the concept. For web browsing, email answering, photo viewing and PowerPointing, I think the device will be satisfactory for business, educational or recreational purposes.  I can see it being used at airports, cafes, classrooms, small meetings and presentations.

The introductory price is $499 after a $100 mail in rebate. Of course, you have to own a compatible phone too.

Has Palm created the next great device? Time will tell.

It won’t be as innovative as the iPhone, but it definitely has the potential to improve the mobile computing experience.

The folks at engadget have used one.  Click here to see what they think.

For a detailed description of its capabilities, read this article from PalmInfoCenter.

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