Was Palm Right After All?

Discussion in 'Headline News' started by Antoine Wright, Oct 26, 2007.

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  1. Antoine Wright

    Antoine Wright Neighborhood Mobilist Super Moderator

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    I just heard about a product that will connect to a smartphone and allow it to be used with a larger keyboard and screen. No, I am not speaking of the Palm Foleo, but of something a good bit more recent that is being developed by i-mate as a companion to its Ultimate series of devices.

    Unlike the Foleo, the "shell" that i-mate is developing only contains a screen (1024 by 768 pixels), a long-life battery (80 hrs.) and a QWERTY keyboard. Everything else would be driven by the Ultimate series device that would be docked into it.

    Like the Foleo, this i-mate shell is making the case that smartphones are all but ready to take over as full computing devices for some users. And it's in this methodology that I have to wonder if in all the blasting that Palm took for announcing (and later unannouncing) the Foleo, if they were actually right about not just smartphones, but the eventual direction of mobile computing.

    So What Is Happening?

    Both Palm and i-mate clearly are not trying to make the case that everyone needs the same mobile device. Judging by just the placement of the Centro and Ultimate models, one can see that the needs of smartphone vary too much for one general solution to accommodate.

    The one thing that they do agree on, though, is that smartphones are a small field that can grow larger if the abilities of the device, and the accessories that go with it, cater not just towards to immediate-computing paradigm that is handheld computing, but can also take a part-time job as a heavier workhorse.

    For "accessories" such as the Foleo and i-mate's "shell" to catch on, mobile software has to scale appropriately towards the user's needs. Working from a larger screen is very different working from a smaller one and the software has to be able to adapt.

    Another thing that has to scale and improve is the ability for mobile devices to play as a spoke in the connectivity wheel. From the support of large memory cards to fast and multiple wireless connections, mobile devices have to be flawless every time if they are going to play such a central role in everyone's computing lives.

    We'll See What Happens

    Palm took the guess that this could be done now. It launched and then canceled its Foleo device, but not the idea of it. i-mate is pretty much following in its footsteps and banking on the fact that its Ultimate devices are as powerful as many sub-$1000 laptops today.

    Maybe Palm was right after all, and just went at it the wrong way. When i-mate releases its "shell" and Palm comes back with the Foleo II we'll know for sure.

     

     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 19, 2015
  2. Nine

    Nine Ooh NO, missus...

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    If I read it correctly (via Engaget) the difference would appear to be that there would be no extra on-device OS or software visible to the user - the device would be, to all intents and purposes a real extension of the Ultimate. Which makes much more sense. What people were focusing on with the Foleo was the lack of extra OS power it had in it, making it a curious and undesirable hybrid to some.
     
  3. luigi

    luigi Palm aficionado

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    That's it, a shell! THat's the exact thing I was thinking about the first time I heard about the Foleo, that's should be. I was actually wondering of such kind of extension for Palm handelds. Clearly, if they would carry enough RAM, a decent processor and store. If that, thus I would connect it directly via some sort of a connector to an external monitor and keyboard combo, self-powered and able to charge the handeld. Eventually, it would be very nice if such combo would also carry an additional HD or flash memory storage unit, maybe to allow backup. It would be more than enough to confortably write on it, better surfing, etc. And avoid duplication of processor, RAM, OS, etc.

    Now, the problem is that current Palm (PDA and Smartphones) to not have enough power tehmselves, neither connecting facilities to allow that...

    Luigi
     
  4. SGosnell

    SGosnell (retired) Palm Pilot

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    The main drawback to using a Palm for internet access and other computing is the small screen and lack of keyboard. The CPU is fine. The advantage of a Palm is that it fits in your pocket, always available, but that advantage becomes a disadvantage for heavy use. Having a keyboard and screen available makes it very usable for almost all portable computing, and obviates the need for a UMPC. The shell could connect via bluetooth, cable, or both, and shouldn't cost much - the screen would be the main cost, but the lack of an OS and CPU should reduce the cost significantly, and it should work with any device - PPC, Palm, or whatever, as long as bluetooth is available. I would certainly buy one.
     
  5. r0k

    r0k Dazed

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    I can't get my head around the possibility that my cell phone could ever become my "everything" repository. Right now, my "everything" repository isn't even a windows box. It's a 250 gig network drive that's about half full.

    I was at the "other" end of the Foleo users spectrum. I was hoping to continue using my Treo for what it does best: a phone with a very big address book. My intent was to forget about the whole pairing thing and use the Foleo separately as a light weight notebook. I'm not willing walk around with literally everything with me anyway. What if my phone or pda gets lost or stolen?

    While my Treo can't hold everything, I'm not totally giving up on the idea of pairing with the Treo, either. Another thought that occurs to me is that the Treo really isn't all that busy when I'm talking on it so a tethered screen/keyboard would solve the problem of having to switch to speakerphone and run another task in the middle of a call. Of course a bluetooth headset would solve this, too. I have no desire to become one of those borg walking around talking to thin air with a blue glow coming from the headsets in their ears.

    So for now this leave me waiting for the EEE as my Foleo replacement because it's un-tethered usage is a higher priority for me.

    Of course Palm was right. They aren't stupid. Palm just tried getting away with moving on to round two before finishing round one, where round one was an updated Palm OS and technologically relevant product offerings in the established PDA and smartphone markets that Palm helped invent.
     
  6. berylrb

    berylrb Mobile Deity

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    <berylrb thinks out loud ...>

    "I still don't completely get it, I think I may be thinking like r0k, but a slightly different angle ... why would one spend $400 for a 'shell' when one can buy a 13" 2.3Kg or 5 lb macbook with 200GB drive for $1100 and not need to re-rip videos to play on a tethered smartphone for starters. And Apples laptops are on the heavy side yes? Vaio is what, 4 lbs?"

    ... <the little guinea pigs in the brain whir on and on and ...>

    "LOL, ... now that I think about it cutting 3 lbs off my back daily would really alleviate alot of pre-arthritic symptoms, and save $500 or more $$$ :p"
     
  7. Nine

    Nine Ooh NO, missus...

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    Because such a device would become your smartphone-plus - not a fully-featured other computer, nor a limited-feature lower-quality OS to 'translate' your smartphone's data and functions as the Foleo was going to feature. Any drivers or OS in the device would be completely invisible to the user - it would just feel like you were using your smartphone, but better. Dock the smartphone with it and carry on working in exactly the same style of environment - but larger and easier. :)
     
  8. Adama D. Brown

    Adama D. Brown Brighthand Reviewer

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    I agree that the "shell" model makes a lot more sense than trying to build a device with an independent system inside it and syncing. Still, though, I wonder how many customers they're really going to get for it. i-mate might actually be the only company that can pull this sort of thing off due to their emphasis on high-end corporate and IT users, the sort who wouldn't mind another half a grand or so on top of a $700 pricetag if it meant they didn't have to issue their employees laptops too.
     
  9. berylrb

    berylrb Mobile Deity

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    don't get me wrong I kind of like the concept, i think the weight issue is still the biggest key for my buying pleasure, ... i'm quite the hotspot guy now that i don't have an office anymore, i tried pulling out the TX and wireless keyboard, but I just didn't see the gain other than not carrying 4 extra pounds.

    it will be interesting to see what size SD cards evolve up too, i've only been in the Ed.D program 3 months and my folder is alredy 2 GB, so like r0k was suggesting hard drive size has something to do with this niche too, eh?

    then agian, i'm thinking purely a tool for working at hotspots or on the road, not pleasure. hmmm, ... :eek:
     
  10. whydidnt

    whydidnt Where's the perfect PDA?

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    Well, Palm was most likely right in thinking there might be a market for this type of product. However, their proposed solution was most definitely wrong. Why carry around a laptop sized/priced piece of equipment that still requires special software and simply syncs with the smartphone? We have laptops and UMPC's that can do this already.

    Of course Palm was trying to create a product that works with their existing Treo lineup and that severely limited what they could do. They couldn't build just a shell, because none of their existing phones would work in it. The Palm OS doesn't support the high resolution we would want to see, and while WM6 will support the higher resolutions, Palms decisions to skimp in the hardware area make it unlikely you could get a decent user experience with the current WM Treo Lineup. The 300 Mhz XScale processor is fine for a 240 x 240 low res screen, but would suffer badly trying to deal with the higher resolutions we would want for such a device.

    The Ultimate line has a faster processor with built-in graphics to support the external output, running the latest OS from MS, and they aren't constricted by the pre-existing issues that Palm was.

    The fact that this will most likely just be a keyboard, screen and battery means it should cost significantly less than the Foleo AND weigh less as well, meaning it will be a perfect laptop replacement for many of us who rely more heavily on our smartphones while traveling anyway. I guess we'll find out if/when they actually release something like this. i-mate doesn't have a great track record with product releases in the recent past.
     
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