The video hands-on here is necessarily short - the Foleo has places to go and people to see. Earlier, though, I did get a little more time with the Foleo. Check below the video for my initial impressions.
My initial impression is that once you handle the device you will be very impressed with its fit and finish. That applies both to the hardware and the software. The Foleo feels very professional and is easy to handle, open, and type on. I'm not typically a fan of the 'nub' style mouse pointer, but it works fine here. Fortunately, after just a minute or two with the Foleo I realized that I would rarely need that little nub as there were keyboard shortcuts for virtually every function.
Update: Yes, the design is a little, how shall I say it,
bland. But the target market for the Foleo is clearly executives. It may be bland, but darned if it doesn't feel professional.
Although Palm is very hush-hush about the exact specs of the Foleo (especially that under-powered processor), we can say with confidence that it has 256 megs of RAM built-in, 128 of which is dedicated to the OS and its operation. 256 seems awfully small, despite repeated claims by every Palm rep I spoke with that they "never" have had to add more memory themselves. If I get one of these, I'll be adding some CF card expansion, thanks.
The screen is 10.2 inches, 1024x600 pixels. It's very bright. Hawkins claims that at a brightness "slightly higher than most laptops can even get to" you'll still get 5 full hours of use. "Use" with the Foleo **assumes** that you have either WiFi or a bluetooth connection to a smartphone active, by the way. Obviously there's no way to verify those battery claims. The battery (which they wouldn't let me up) is actually just a few Treo 700 battery cells linked up (there's some cost saving in there, I'm sure).
Update: really great question from Marcus - what sort of power adpater does it use? Answer: I have no idea. It's a standard "round plug" on the side of the Foleo, but nobody at the conference saw fit to bring a power adapter. So whether it'll be a brick or (let's hope) something smaller, I can't say
In addition to the main keyboard (which has dedicated "menu" and "apps" buttons, btw, a nice touch), there are few other buttons. Power (strangely, the Foleo doesn't power on when you open it), an email button (why no internet button?), the scroll wheel flanked on either side by mouse buttons. The mouse buttons themselves are further flanked by back and forward buttons. That's all, folks. The keyboard felt fine to type on.
The software doesn't follow a typical 'windowed' model. Every app takes up the entire screen. There is a sort of menubar at the top that displays important information that acts very similarly to the menubar on the PalmOS - you hit the menu button to reveal the actual menu opitions, but then it hides to just display time, signal strength, etc when its done.
The instant-on and off is actually very compelling. Not only is it much faster on and off than any computer you'll ever use, it's faster on and off than any PDA or smartphone I've ever used. App switching is also instantaneous. Is it multiasking? Closing apps in the background? I don't know, and frankly I felt pretty quickly that I didn't care. I assume it's multitasking, but the single-window model does have a certain appeal to me in a "
Gettings Things Done" sort of way.
You hit the apps button to drop down a list of apps, it's very snappy. The whole interface has a muted slate blue sort of theme that's very readable and works for what Palm is aiming for. Make no mistake, the OS on the Foleo is classic "Zen of Palm," and for what it's worth I think that is a very good thing.
Palm hasn't missed the mark with either hardware or with the overall feel of the OS. Both are spot-on, very well made. The Foleo seems to be a perfectly executed "mobile companion." It does exactly what its designed to do and does it very, very well.
The question remains, though, do you need a "mobile companion?" I can't say that I do, but the Foleo has grown on me a bit since my
initial reaction. Be sure to check back at TreoCentral throughout the rest of the week for more coverage of the Foleo.
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