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Foleo-like Devices Bringing Back the Foleo Itch

Mon Mar 17, 2008 - 2:10 PM EDT - By Jennifer Chappell


Many people were excited when the Palm Foleo was announced back in May of 2007. Man alive, that seems so long ago now. The excitement grew as developers began announcing 3rd party apps that they'd made for the Foleo. Then Palm shocked us all by announcing on September 4th that the Foleo had been cancelled. Palm wanted to move forward in working on their next generation platform, but Ed Colligan did write that Palm still planned on developing the "Foleo II" and releasing it sometime in the future, based on the new "unified platform" We're hopefully expecting to see Palm's new Linux based platform in early 2009. And yessiree, it would be great to see a Foleo II with that new platform running on it! By the time the Foleo was cancelled, I was all worked up and was wanting one, high price or not. Carrying around a 2 lb. subnotebook that would perfectly coincide with my Treo seemed like a great idea. I recently upgraded my Acer laptop to a Dell Inspiron 1520, the Midnight Blue model of course! ;-) As much as I love my laptop and still drool each time I open the lid and see that beautiful glossy widescreen, it's a hefty device to haul around. It weighs 6.4 lbs. Ugh. And with all the options I loaded on the laptop, the price tag was also mighty hefty. Heck, I could have bought three Foleos for what I forked out for that Dell. And yes, that makes me feel a little very dumb after complaining about the price of the Foleo awhile back. **blush**

After the Foleo was cancelled, some Foleo-like devices began showing up. One of them was the Redfly Mobile Companion made by Celio Corporation. The Redfly is a sleek clamshell design with an 8" display, full function keyboard, and a touchpad mouse. It measures 1x6x9 inches and weighs only 2 lbs.. The Redfly offers 8 hours of battery life and boots instantly. It also features instant VGA output, access to USB flash drives, and the ability to charge your smartphone via USB.

Dieter over at WMExperts talked about the Redfly back in January. Dieter said:

If you missed it, it's a “Smartphone Companion” that's designed to give you a full keyboard and a (relatively) expansive screen to work with when you're on the go. All your data lives on the smartphone. In shorts, it's darn close to filling the curious absence left in the wake of the Foleo cancellation.

Be sure to check out the WMExperts "Hands-on with the Redfly - CES 2008". And yeah, just go ahead and pull up your drool bucket like I did.

Sasha Segan over at PC Magazine wrote a review on the Redfly back in January. Segan started out by saying that the Redfly Mobile Companion might be the closest thing to Palm's sub-laptop to actually hit the market.

Segan said that the Redfly has two problems: The first being the $500 price. Hmmm, sound familiar? The Foleo was priced the same and there were frequent grumblings about that price. Regarding the other problem, Segan stated:

My other problem is that Windows Mobile office applications don't work well enough to justify the big screen and keyboard. With a full-sized device, you're going to want some semblance of the desktop experience. The stripped-down Office Mobile and especially the barely functional Internet Explorer Mobile, on big screens and keyboards, will just leave you missing desktop-standard features like styles, tracking changes, and Flash support.

In the latest MobileTechRoundup, James Kendrick, Matthew Miller, and Kevin C. Tofel talk about the differences in the Foleo and the Redfly. Each guy will be getting a beta version of the Redfly to try out. They'll talk about the Redfly on their next MTR show, so be sure to listen in.

Another device that has been compared to the Foleo and discussed a lot in the TreoCentral Foleo forums is the Asus EEE PC. This small laptop runs on Linux, has a 900MHz Intel Celeron M ULV processor, 4GB of Flash based storage, a 7-inch screen, Wi-Fi, and weighs in at 2lbs. The EEE has become extremely popular and now there is an Asus Eee PC 900. Be sure to check out jkkmobile's Asus EeePC 900 hands-on video.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona back in February, Alloy, one of the UK's largest industrial design consultancies, unveiled (via sourcewire.com) a whole new handset concept to offer true convergence to users over the mobile network.

This device is named Couple-IT and the concept consists of two complemetary mobile devices and a supporting network infrastructure. The two devices act as one in order to address the communications needs of a modern generation. I first spotted Couple-IT over at Gizmodo.

Rather than trying to incorporate every single feature and function into one device, with the inevitable compromise on size and usability, Couple-IT uses two linked devices to provide suitable solutions for different scenarios. The user has the reassurance that their content is fully accessible at all times from both devices.
Each Couple-IT account would use twin SIMs and software which would establish intelligent synchronization between the two devices. In this way data, such as contact and diary info, owned content, digital license permissions and preferential links remain coordinated across the two devices.
When on the move, a small device is the cornerstone of a user’s relationship with any mobile network, and this remains the case with Couple-IT. However, when the user wants the benefits of a larger screen or memory capacity (say to watch video content) or a reasonable sized keyboard, the user can switch to a laptop-sized smartphone with the same intuitive user interface and, thanks to the mobile network, fully co-ordinated content.

The Couple-IT looks and sounds very interesting indeed. The twin SIMs sure is a different concept. The synchronization, larger screen, and full keyboard all sound like the Foleo though.

I'm crossing my fingers that Palm will still come out with a Foleo II. I can just imagine how much better it will be running Palm's next generation OS when that is finished. I'm hoping that Palm will dazzle us all in early 2009. Until then, I'm excited to see the AT&T Centro has arrived, and I'm still eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Treo 800w!

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