Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's here: the Foleo future of Palm

Okay, I hopped up this morning all psyched to see the future and it turns out the future is already in my tote bag. Here's the deal. Palm founder Jeff Hawkins announced the next generation Palm device is a smartphone companion that is similar to an ultra-portable laptop. It's called the Palm Foleo and it's shown below next to a Treo. Palm announcement site is here. Write up from the D5 conference announcement is here.

I guess it's sorta cool if you don't already have a laptop but I do. And it rocks. See it over there. In fact, it's nearly the same form factor as the "next gen" Foleo and I already carry it with me most everywhere. So as the Engadget site pointed out: "Damned if we need yet another friggin device." Hear, hear.

Almost two years ago, after one too many trips through airports lugging a gigantic, employer-provided laptop that left me with sore arms and and an aching back, I vowed that my next laptop would be the smallest thing out there that I could afford. After much research, I settled on the Sony VGN-TX670P, a 2.8 pound wonder that has stood me in good stead ever since.

In addition to the expected suite of Microsoft productivity programs bundled with it, I've also used it to create mini-movies and slideshows set to music. It's no gaming marvel, but neither am I and that's not what I bought it for. I spend 95% of my time on it doing desktop publishing, text content creation and editing, internet browsing, and e-mail, with picture downloads and edits, and the occasional DVD viewing session thrown in for good measure.
So here's a comparison table I put together of the main highlights of the two machines.
Device Palm Foleo Sony TX-670VGN
Screen 10-inch screen 11.1-inch wide-screen display
Weight 2.5 lbs 2.8 pounds (3.5 pounds with AC adapter)
Keyboard full-size keyboard Considered smallish/cramped (but I like it fine)
OS Linux Windows XP
Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDF Create, edit Word and Excel docs, view but not edit PPT. PDF viewer Full versions of each program included
Email Can read, create, edit using VersaMail or Outlook Mobile. Future iteration of the device will allow e-mail over Wi-Fi to do e-mail Outlook, webmail
Web connectivity no built-in network connectivity, but relies on its host smartphone to connect via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Cellular, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi
Boot up Instant on Several minutes
Battery life Five+ hours of use 6.6 hours in drain test by
Other USB port, video-out port, headphone jack, and slots for SD and compact flash cards for memory expansion DVD/CD player/burner, 60GB Hard drive, two USB 2.0 ports, four-pin FireWire, VGA video out port, PCI Express card slot, headphone jack, Sony Memory stick slot, SD card slot
Price $499, after an introductory $100 rebate. $2,100 almost two years ago

Although the laptop cost more, I also get more, can connect to the VPN at work, and do lots of other tasks with the numerous programs that are already installed. And, if needed, I can also connect my phone to it and use the unlimited data plan I already have on my Treo to connect to the internet, which is essentially what the Foleo does. So consider me completely underwhelmed by the Foleo. For me, it feels so...2005.

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