Palm Foleo: A Needless ‘Smartphone Companion’

A revolutionary new device category or something rather pointless...? Gordon's going with the latter.

I have to admit I’m rather confused…

Today marks the launch of the much rumoured, much hyped ‘Palm Foleo’ and for the life of me I can’t work out why it exists. Apparently the first ‘smartphone companion’ it offers a slim and light laptop form factor (10in LCD, keyboard, Bluetooth, WiFi, 1.13Kg) but without anything like the same functionality.

Instead the Foleo exists primarily to synch with your smartphone (initially a Palm, but Windows Mobile, RiM and Symbian devices in time), enabling users to open their device’s emails and attachments or surf the web on a larger screen using more fully featured clients. Battery life is good for five hours of use and its Linux OS means it can be used on its own as a kind of stripped down laptop.

Ok fine, but I have two major issues here:

1. Isn’t the entire point of a smartphone so that you ”don’t” need to carry a laptop sized device around with you?

2. If you ”are” going to carry a laptop sized device around with you why not carry ”a laptop?”

Yes, the Foleo is cheaper than most slim line laptops at $599 ($499 for a limited time with a $100 in box rebate) but do you really want to own a smartphone, a laptop sized device to synchronise with your smartphone and a laptop to synchronise with your smartphone? Aren’t our lives complicated enough?!

Personally, I can’t think of anything worse than adding yet another device into our lives that requires synchronisation. One laptop, one smartphone, one PC is quite enough thank you and I think most people would agree with me…

Of course I may be completely wrong. Palm founder Jeff Hawkins describes it as “the most exciting product I have ever worked on” but surely – if popular (which it won’t be) – it represents a massive backwards step for an industry which has spent the last few years trying to untie us from our laptops.

And besides, I’m never wrong.

Palm Foleo