The Palm Foleo: I Just Don't Get It

By Pete Paxton on Sunday, June 3, 2007

The laptop is a very innovative device. To be able to put virtually all the power of a desktop pc into a thin box that runs on a battery, has a full size keyboard, an optical drive that plays and burns, a big hard drive, lots of ram, beautiful screen, and can handle third party apps. It’s a very useful product.

Even the variations of the laptop have been innovative. Take the Tablet PC. As a teacher, I can walk around the classroom moving from student to student, enter grades, and take hand written notes all on a computer without needing to sit down or use a flat surface. The UMPC has taken the power of the laptop (with a full OS) and made it even more mobile. And of course we have pocket pc phones and smartphones which have taken many of the abilities of the computer and placed them in the window (I didn’t want to use the “p” word) of our hands and eliminated the need to carry a separate phone.

Enter in the Palm Foleo, a laptop sort of looking device with a 10 inch screen and full size keyboard. It’s innovativeness? Hmmm, hold on, I’m still thinking, oh I know – nothing!
Now I know what some are thinking. What about the low $500 AR price? My current laptop is a dual core Pentium with a gig of ram, 14.1" screen, 100 gig HD, DVD play/burn and Vista Premium for $549 with a $50 gift card without a rebate. Ok, what about the size of the Foleo? Here's where I really don't get it. It's not small enough to fit in your pocket. It doesn't have a touch screen so you'll have to put it on a flat surface to use the keyboard. I would probably carry it in a case to protect it. Well, if I'm going to have to do all this, why not just take my laptop? Is it really that much more cumbersome?

What about it's functions? Now rather than discuss what the Foleo can do (because it's a pretty short list), I'd rather discuss what it can't do. It can't give me a 14.1 inch screen, it can't give me an optical drive, it doesn't have a full operating system so I can add third party apps, it isn't pocketable, it really isn't any cheaper than a laptop nor is it really any less cumbersome. Ok, so what can the Foleo do? It can give you 10 inches of email, note taking, and internet surfing all in a product you are going to physically use almost in the same way as a laptop.

So it comes down to this: If I'm a business person and I take a trip where I will need to do some light note taking, check some emails, lightly surf the web, and perhaps watch a movie on the plane, I'll just take my Dash smartphone. It's very capable of all these tasks. If I need to do more, I'll throw my laptop in a case, take it and use it the same way I would the Foleo but with 10 times the functions. I just don't see where the Foleo fits in. It's too big to be as mobile as I'd like and not powerful enough to provide all the functions I need. It's not going to replace the laptop or pda phone so is Palm really advocating that we need yet another device? So do you agree or disagree? Feel free to convince me I'm wrong.

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