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Palm 'innovative Wi-FI device' invite points to Foleo revamp?

Launched and killed before the Eee PC proved the concept correct

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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 Foleo

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.

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