Palm 'innovative Wi-FI device' invite points to Foleo revamp?
Launched and killed before the Eee PC proved the concept correct
Forgotten Tech Is Palm about to put its once-canned Foleo notebook-alternative back on the agenda? That's one possible conclusion to draw from a claim the company's currently seeking testers for an "innovative new product".
The invitation, sent out to a number of customers in the US, states that successful candidates must be heavy smartphone and email users, must use a Wi-Fi router and be a Sprint customer, website Palminfocenter reports.
The site reasonably speculates that Palm's coming up with a Wi-Fi Treo, and not before time. However, let's ponder a slightly more leftfield alternative.
Palm's Foleo: cruelly nicknamed the 'Faileo'
Palm announced the Foleo almost a year ago, in May 2007. It was a 10.4in sub-laptop with a full-size keyboard and Wi-Fi. Running Linux, it was equipped with a email and browsing apps, along with PDF and Office file readers. It had Bluetooth for sync'ing to a Treo or connecting to the internet through the handset.
It weighed 1.1kg and was less than an inch thick.
The problem was, it was pricey - $599 - and incapable of running the kind of apps folk were used to running on laptops.
Foleo got a very poor reception from the pundits - some nicknamed it the 'Faileo' - especially those who simply couldn't figure out why anyone would want a small, cheap computer.
Cutting its loses, in September 2007, Palm canned the product's launch. At the time, it said it wanted to rethink the machine, but that read back then more like a face-saving statement than a forward-looking plan to revamp and revive the Foleo in due course.
Skip forward seven months and the laptop landscape of April 2008 is very different from what it was in September 2007. In the intervening months, Apple has successfully launched its skinny MacBook Air, which, despite many naysayers, does appear to be pulling in the punters, and not just the Mac faithful. Many consumers are willing to pay for better portability.
...Matthew Weigel, above, even if he IS an iPhone user (kidding, OK?); better battery life, perhaps, but critically flawed by being tied to a phone, not being able to run standard versions of apps (or standard plugins in their own customised versions of apps)... All in all, this thing was more akin to an expansion keyboard for a phone with a larger screen bolted on. I could have pretty much the same thing going with a £25 bluetooth keyboard for my phone (I could live without the display). The Eee's an actual standalone usable laptop that can run anything any normal bog-stock PC can, do it in an incredibly small form factor and at incredibly low cost, whilst being highly resilient. Folio didn't even come close.
It is the Palm Treo 800w
It's the Palm Treo 800w, bet on it.
When the Foleo 1 was killed Palm said they might revisit it *AFTER* Palm OS 2 is out, and if and when they did Foleo 2 it would run Palm OS 2 (their Linux-based OS). Since the OS isn't done, let alone out, it isn't a new Foleo.
the psion mc200, mc400, mc500 and mc600 were laptops that ran a proprietry os. think of them as a big primitive psion 5. always wanted to buy one but never had the cash.
the cheap one mc200 was £600 up to the £1300 mc600 version.
the psions were so far ahead of their time that only now is nokias symbian starting to catch up.
if i could bring only one feature of psion it would be the opl programming language.
The Foleo Would Have Missed
It may seem like a small thing, but they had the targeting completely off for the Foleo. A companion to your Treo? I don't - and won't, thanks to the iPhone - own a Treo, and I don't want my laptop to be tethered in any way to my phone unless I'm out in the middle of nowhere and need to use the phone as a modem.
Sure, it would have been a nice Linux laptop, and in that regard could serve as well as the EeePC, but it wouldn't have served users like my wife (who now enjoys surfing from the couch on her EeePC) nearly as well. Custom web browser, email that you have to download from your Treo, non-x86 processor that can't run the Linux Flash plugin...
They got very close in specs, but they screwed it up a bit and they positioned it wrong. The EeePC is a minor iteration on their idea, but it's the iteration where things came together. Now the EeePC alone is practically a new class of laptop (even though machines like it have been with us for a long time, often imported from Japan), and the Foleo never could have had that kind of impact.
The Foleo was what I intended to get when I first received an email about it from Palm. Then I read (on the Reg no less) that the Foleo was scrapped before it even came out.
Then the eeePC came out. Since I still wanted a tiny laptop-like thing for extreme portability, I got myself an eee.
However, while I do love the eee, if it and the Foleo had existed at the same time, I would have chosen the latter, even if it cost an extra $100, as I've always been very impressed with palm stuff. I have a Treo600 that I got about 4 years ago and aside from one little incident involving a coin and the charging slot, it has never been turned off or reset; and it's never let me down.