How is that? Until now PDAs and smartphones (from now on mobile devices) were PC companions, that is, users would synchronise their information (PIM, files, programs) to a PC. At the end of the day everything on a mobile device would just be a replica of the same kind of information present on a user's PC.
The Palm Foleo changes this by actually being the companion to a mobile device. Its main features are actually the large screen, full size keyboard and the ability to synchronise with a mobile device. Note that in this case the main repository is the mobile device, not a PC - although you could have a mobile device synchronising to a PC, and the Foleo synchronising to your mobile device.
Below is a short two minutes video I created from the press material distributed by Palm, with some more information, directly from Jeff Hawkins, founder, Palm Inc:
Why would anyone want this? For many users the most important things are really e-mail, attachment handling (office documents) and a bit of browsing. Not every user needs a PC for heavy 3D gaming for example. And not everyone wants to carry a heavy laptop when going out of the office, just to "keep in touch" with e-mail.
I believe some business users would really like the ability to have a device with a bit more "room" to work than a mobile device - a larger 10" screen, decent size keyboard and longer battery life (the Palm Foleo seems to be able to work for up to five hours with its standard battery) are very appealing.
The Palm Foleo comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Want to browse the Internet? You can do so with its built-in Opera Browser (including Flash support), via Wi-Fi. If no Wi-Fi is available you can use Bluetooth wireless to connect to the Internet through a Palm Treo.
It also uses Bluetooth to synchronise information with your mobile device. Note that what you see on a Palm Foleo is what you have on your mobile device. It is like an extension, a keyboard/monitor combination that is not constantly connected to its main storage.
Initially you must have a Palm Treo smartphone, but Palm says it will work with other Windows Mobile devices with little or no changes and possibly other smartphone platforms (Symbian?) with small modifications.
The entire system is open, based on a Linux platform, and Palm is making all the APIs available.
Palm Foleo is being launched with a street price of US$ 499 (after a US$ 100 rebate). Wasn't this what UMPCs should have been? Forgive me, but the way I see it the US$ 500, long battery life UMPC ended up being a US$ 1500, short battery life sub notebook. And the Palm Foleo might as well take its place.
Another important point to consider is Palm's history of creating and supporting developer communities. This will be a major factor in having a wider acceptance for this product. The Palm Foleo comes with Opera Browser, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Datavix Documents-to-go, and we can expect a lot more by the time it reaches the market.
While still early to give my final impression on this (let's wait until I can play with one), I think this new class of devices promises to be ground breaking. I certainly would use one, but I would like to see its price come down, to about US$ 250.
Other related posts:
Windows Phone and Android apps screen comparison
Windows Phone 8 Portico update: at last here in New Zealand
Windows Phone updates, again
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