Hands-on with Palm’s Foleo reinforces niche nature

Chris Davies - Jun 29, 2007

If Palm were hoping for a rapturous welcome for their Foleo smartphone-companionthen they were probably sorely disappointed.  Opinions on the compact emailing/surfing device have ranged from “nice, but is there a market?” to “they’ve seriously lost their way and are no longer contenders”.  Here at SlashGear we don’t quite feel as strongly as that, but all the same it’s good to hear some hands-on feedback from your friend and mine, Kevin C. Tofel, after he played with the Foleo at the Digital Experience show.


Palm Foleo keyboard

Apparently Kevin is resolutely “not the target customer” in Palm’s opinion; that’s him as typifying someone wanting a far extended portable experience beyond the scope of a smartphone, not as an individual (I hope!), since the company is targeting the Foleo at “mobile professionals” who’re pretty much looking for a bigger keyboard and Excel-friendly screen. 

 Palm Foleo email app

Whether you agree that there’s a sufficient demand out there for the $500 device or not, it certainly looks appealing.  Kevin was impressed by the simplicity (and, thanks to some Outlook theming, familiarity) of the apps, while the keyboard, mouse trackpoint and mini scrollwheel were all comfortable.  Instant-on is apparently true to its name.  Personally, I think the key point is this:

“We both agreed the biggest challenge for the Foleo is to get people to understand what the device is intended for, similar to UMPCs. Sure I use my Q1P as a true laptop replacement, but I’m the exception. Expecting it to be that is too high an expectation for some; the same goes for the Foleo. If you can accept the device for what it’s intended to be and hold it to those standards, it’s quite capable for that feature set and use case.”Kevin C. Tofel

The Foleo still smacks of a slick device looking desperately for a market, especially when you compare it to mini-laptops like ASUS’ Eee which is going to seriously undercut it (starting at just $199).  I’m looking forward to trying one, but I can’t see myself ever opening my wallet.

Twenty minutes with Palm and the Foleo[jkontherun]

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