Palm Foleo
May 30, 2007 2:12 PM   Subscribe

After reading this, I've decided that I'm not going to buy any new technology. I'm going to regress and only buy older and older technology.

I've just placed a eBay bid on a Mac SE. No kidding.
posted by humblepigeon at 2:18 PM on May 30, 2007 [4 favorites]

humblepigeon, that's one of the dumbest things I've ever read.
posted by stenseng at 2:27 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

(to clarify: the article you linked to, not your comment)
posted by stenseng at 2:27 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Is this a joke?
posted by docpops at 2:31 PM on May 30, 2007

See also M$urface!
posted by rob511 at 2:32 PM on May 30, 2007

Stenseng: Not that dumb. The machines are much faster, but the overall feel is similar. When I opened Word 2.0 on a 386-33MHz, it took a bit of waiting. You'd think think that opening OpenOffice on the P4-2.80GHz in front of me would be instantaneous. I mean, the machine is orders of magnitude faster!

But it still takes a bit of waiting. Sure, it can do more, but the delays experienced by the user haven't changed all that much.
posted by bitmage at 2:33 PM on May 30, 2007

looks like somebody needs a newton.
posted by OldReliable at 2:33 PM on May 30, 2007

What a crappy product sight. I clicked around for a few minutes and waited for screens to load without ever seeing how much it weighs, what OS it runs, and whether it has wireless.
posted by LarryC at 2:36 PM on May 30, 2007

Is this a joke?

No. If it helps, imagine some links to Engadget lambasting its lack of 1080p support or whatever.
posted by cillit bang at 2:37 PM on May 30, 2007

Wireless email. Big time.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:39 PM on May 30, 2007

Sure, it can do more, but the delays experienced by the user haven't changed all that much.

I get this feeling too when loading a metafilter thread is slow. I mean we're talking a few KB of text here! Its 2007 and I'm actually waiting for a few KB of text to load! I also notice my memory manager is showing that my browser using 200M of RAM. I'm thinking where did it all go wrong....

Any oldtime Internet user will tell you about using Lynx on a Terminal. Fast! Click. Page on your screen instantly. Back. Page on your screen instantly. Etc. Cruising across the Internet at 200 mph...

The relevance of all this to the Palm Foleo is that its sort of an admit that people don't really need laptops - they need a machine that can do 80% of what people do and do that well: load some HTML. Load and Edit Word docs. Read and Send Email. In return for gicing up that other 20% you get a more lightweight machine, fast, with high battery life. Yep...
posted by vacapinta at 2:40 PM on May 30, 2007 [4 favorites]

Oops -- I see Surface has its own thread already. Nevermind...
posted by rob511 at 2:40 PM on May 30, 2007

>Load and Edit Word docs

Edit??!! whoa slow down now. You're getting way ahead of yourself.
posted by goatfish at 2:48 PM on May 30, 2007

This is being marketed as a phone accessory? That's like an aftermarket spoiler that's five times as big as the car.
posted by gottabefunky at 2:52 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

A laptop for my phone? What? Jesus, Palm, we can smell the flopsweat over the internet.
posted by boo_radley at 2:54 PM on May 30, 2007 [5 favorites]

Another way of looking at humblepigeon's link: at the time of its release, the 1Mb of disk space required by the Mac cost about US$100 adjusted for inflation (source, I had to estimate because they didn't have numbers for 1986).

In comparison, the 15Gb required by Vista costs US$5.66 (source).

I got this perspective from Joel on Software, and coincidentally he talks about the "80% of what people do" issue in the same article.
posted by Riki tiki at 2:59 PM on May 30, 2007

It seems to have more of a matte finish, really.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 3:00 PM on May 30, 2007

It really does seem as if the bloat in our programs perfectly matches the speed increases in our hardware. I broke out an old Mac of mine a while back and I was really surprised that, while the programs didn't have all the features, they seemed to perform just as fast as they do on my much newer OSX machines.

And as a bit of a shock, the stripped down version of OS9 it was running booted considerably faster than anything I am using today.
posted by quin at 3:04 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

And as a bit of a shock, the stripped down version of OS9 it was running booted considerably faster than anything I am using today.

Though, OS9 really only handled one process at a time. OS X uses the CPU to handle multiple tasks, so you're actually doing more.
posted by Debaser626 at 3:10 PM on May 30, 2007

You're right. Now that I'm refreshing my feeds every fifteen minutes, playing distracting music, checking my email every 5 minutes, checking on my three chat windows and a couple of IRC channels, getting Twitter updates in my menu bar and posing for the webcam picture that gets snapped every 30 seconds, I am really accomplishing more.
posted by chrismear at 3:19 PM on May 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

I don't get it. If I'm going to lug something this big around (I don't care how light it is, the screen is 10"), then I'll just get a laptop w/broadband card. The whole point of a smartphone is being able to check your email w/o carrying a laptop.
posted by desjardins at 3:28 PM on May 30, 2007

While I find the idea of a stripped-down $500 micro-notebook appealing, I'm not sure that I like it being tethered to a $300+service plan smartphone.
posted by lekvar at 3:35 PM on May 30, 2007

Let me get this straight: it's a laptop-sized extention for your phone...thus giving you better access to the phone's that's meant for a larger screen, anyway.

So it's really an email machine without the computer. For the same price as a computer.

posted by diastematic at 3:35 PM on May 30, 2007

A couple of inches can make a surprisingly big difference. I used to throw my 15" notebook into whatever bag I was carrying; now I have a 17" machine, I have to plan that I'm going to take it out and bring the special big bag, and the weight constantly reminds me it's there.

A light, thin 10" machine? I could see how that would be in a totally different class of throw-it-in-and-forget-about-it portability than the vast majority of laptops.
posted by chrismear at 3:36 PM on May 30, 2007

Stenseng: Not that dumb. The machines are much faster, but the overall feel is similar. When I opened Word 2.0 on a 386-33MHz, it took a bit of waiting. You'd think think that opening OpenOffice on the P4-2.80GHz

Well, I use word 2000 and it opens in the blink of an eye now. I used to have to wait a good 20-30 seconds. You can still use old software with newer machines.
posted by delmoi at 3:41 PM on May 30, 2007

A couple of inches can make a surprisingly big difference.

So I've heard.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:42 PM on May 30, 2007 [6 favorites]

This is Palm trying to target the "executive" (i.e. middle manager) market, made up of people who never really use their laptop for anything other than email and web surfing anyway. They've seen what happens in countries where phones have leapfrogged other means of mobile connectivity (cf. the astonishing popularity of Nokia Communicators among businessmen in Indonesia) and are hoping to create a similar segment in the western market.
posted by xthlc at 4:05 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I can't imagine that there's anywhere that I could use the Foleo where I couldn't equally easily and conveniently open up my laptop. I really can't imagine paying more for the data plan that would make this in any way reasonable.
posted by mikel at 4:10 PM on May 30, 2007

So basically Palm continues to cease to be relevant anymore.
posted by Eekacat at 4:21 PM on May 30, 2007

"I can't imagine that there's anywhere that I could use the Foleo where I couldn't equally easily and conveniently open up my laptop."

Agreed, and for that reason: Pass.

Tho i can see how some might want it. There are a number of people in this office building who seem to live on their Blackberrys. Maybe it's aimed at people like that.

Good deadpan there, flapjax.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:22 PM on May 30, 2007

(watches Palm sailing over Carcharodon carcharias and shakes head sadly)

As a long time Palm OS enthusiast (he says while caressing a battered, customized Palm TX in it's Nutshell belt case), this definitely says Palm is out there.

I know a lot of us are eagerly awaiting, for example, the new Linux based OS we have been getting promised for oh so long now. Not so much that we are Linux enthusiasts (although I am typing this via a remote X session) but in the hope that a new OS will clear up a lot of the cruft from the previous layers of patchiness we've seen as Palm keeps avoiding any real development on it's OS.

Instead we see things like this trinket, neither Palm, nor laptop, nor good red meat.

posted by Samizdata at 4:27 PM on May 30, 2007

I'm torn - I like the phone/computer separation idea and agree that the 80:20 featureset is an excellent choice. But, the thing is just too big. I already have a 10" laptop and, whilst it is damn small, it's still too big to throw into every bag I carry. I'm looking for something in between the 10" sony and the communicator - basically, a 770/800 with a proper keyboard.
posted by blag at 4:40 PM on May 30, 2007

If we're talking about shiny new tech things, I'd much rather prefer the Live Scribe computer in a pen.
posted by dhruva at 4:56 PM on May 30, 2007

I have been dreaming for years of a light laptop, thin as a magazine (New-Yorker rather than Vogue), with wifi, email, word processor, a black and white screen and a rugged aluminum cover. It could be done for around $100 but nobody seems interested to make it.
posted by bru at 5:12 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

takes up all the space of a small laptop with none of the usability.

totally worth $500!
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 5:19 PM on May 30, 2007

From the demo:

Press another button and, voila, it syncs your email. Magic? It sure feels that way.


I should add that I doubt the usefulness of any product whose manufacturer's marketing department seriously wrote in a "voila."
posted by katillathehun at 5:48 PM on May 30, 2007

I'll buy one if I can run my own Linux build on it. Like an OLPC, but without the agenda / hype / bullshit.
posted by blasdelf at 6:38 PM on May 30, 2007

Foleo sounds like some kind of computerized Foley catheter. It doesn't appear to require a smart phone, as it has wifi built in. I'd definitely buy something like this for my grandmother, who only really needs an email machine. However, the lack of available tech specs on the web site makes me nervous. Usually when the marketing people completely suppress the engineering and technical people in a company it is a bad sign.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:04 PM on May 30, 2007

Sorry you can't drool over toys not yet listed on
posted by jeffburdges at 7:14 PM on May 30, 2007

You know, if I didn't need a laptop yesterday, I'd have probably canceled the $500 refurb'd T40 I ordered the other day, and considered it - It apparently even sports a 'Terminal application', so I could even telnet into a local box for CLI/C++ hijinks.

Be interesting to see if it really does have a five hour battery life, though. Not real promising that the website has all that raytrace/simulated/overprocessed imagery - Doubt we'll be seeing it in stores anytime soon.
posted by Orb2069 at 7:37 PM on May 30, 2007

I am the proud owner of a treo 700p.

If you already own a laptop, you can establish a bluetooth network from your phone to your laptop to use the wireless broadband and vice versa. Since you can score a low end Dell laptop for around $500, I see little advantage to this device.

Perhaps if it were $200, or free with the phone. If it's a true linux environment allowing for complete customization, it might be fun and convenient.

There's little I can't do on my treo as it is.
posted by _aa_ at 8:13 PM on May 30, 2007

Hammacher Schlemmer has an equally sensible solution for only $89.95.
posted by hypocritical ross at 8:43 PM on May 30, 2007

Cuuld this be the Psion organiser replacement I've been pining for?
posted by Artw at 9:31 PM on May 30, 2007

Reminds me of the Psion Series 7 (which had a Netbook version with some added extras for connectivity, if I recall), which I pined after when it came out due to it blowing my Psion 3a out the water.

I would love a machine that was small, light,with good battery life and a basic set of programs. I think the problem with Palm is that their software is just so bad. I don't know about the Foleo (which I would imagine runs Cobolt, but their website really doesn't want to tell you anything other than "look at the shiny thing! It spins!"), but the fact that a T|X can't read .txt files out the box is shocking.
posted by djgh at 8:26 AM on May 31, 2007

djgh, I just composed a post on the Psion 7, dwelling mostly on the fact that it sunk the company because nobody bought it. It wasn't a personal organiser because it was too big and only had eight hours battery life, it wasn't a laptop because it ran a proprietary OS and didn't have a hard drive, and thus it didn't have a market. Neither hot nor cold...

My Psion 5 was reaching the end of its life just as the 7 was coming out, and I looked at one in a shop for a long, long time. Then I bought a 5mx instead.
posted by Hogshead at 8:32 AM on May 31, 2007

The more direct comparison is the Psion Revo which was actively marketed as a phonebook and SMS manager for mobile phones.

djgh, I just composed a post on the Psion 7, dwelling mostly on the fact that it sunk the company because nobody bought it.

I had the chance to ask one of the old bosses from Psion about this. Apparently they decided they could never compete with smartphones, and pulled out of the consumer market deliberately. They'd already sold the software half of the business to Nokia et al at this point, so it was either find another hardware niche (which they did), somehow acquire phone-making skills, or go belly up.
posted by cillit bang at 11:05 AM on May 31, 2007

Yeah, it's a shame. I would really love to have somethign I can write on that isn't a laptop, but doesn't have the dwarf keys of the smartphones. I don't really need it to be a phone and I don't need it to be a full laptop, but I do need it to be light, instantly on, and with a long battery life. PDAs are out due to the lack of keyboard anfd the fact that no one seriously makes PDAs that aren't phones anymore.

The closest I can find these days woud be a very small laptop. I'm guessing I'm pretty much going to have to wait for laptops to get smaller and improve in battery life if I want something closer.
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on May 31, 2007

Seconding the wish for a true "microlaptop". Over the years I've used a number of Palm devices with the folding keyboard - and it's a great way to carry a minimal word processor or editor around in your pocket, with a real keyboard.

But the combination of - say - a Palm 3x series and the folding keyboard is nearly as bulky and as heavy as a subcompact laptop like the Sony or Fujitsu ultra-small laptop offerings.

And you can't actually use the folding keyboard in your lap unless you're really careful about it. You generally need a table or other surface to set up the keyboard and Palm on. And the keyboard sucks way too much power out of the Palm, effectively reducing battery life to a fraction of normal use.

Years and years ago I had an NEC-4800 "laptop", which is similar to the TRS-80/Tandy portables, namely nearly identical to the Tandy TRS-80 model 202.

CP/M operating system, 31k of battery-backed RAM, 1k of OS partitioned RAM, and 32k of software ROM. It featured a basic terminal program, a simple database, BASIC scripting, a word processor, a 300 baud modem and a 40x24 column ANSI-character set LCD display with no backlight. No hard disk, either. No mass storage at all. I couldn't afford the bolt-on module for the disk or tape drives.

But it ran for a week or three on 4 C-size batteries. It hardly weighed anything at all. And it was a tank.

Goddamn I miss that thing. I spent so many countless hours on BBSs with that, and it was more than just adequate, it was awesome. So portable, durable, crash-proof and utilitarian.

I want something similar, but with WiFi and LAN, maybe bluetooth. Black and white or epaper display would be fine. Basic color would be ok, too. It should be able to run Java, basic x86 code, etc, but a Palm-like interface and OS would be tolerable if it had insane battery life, durability and portability.

And there's lots and lots of free third party apps still available for Palm devices. I still use a Palm to this day, but my old folding keyboards don't work with my newer, hand-me-down Sony Clie, and I really do miss having a portable typing box.

At that price point, this isn't it, though.

Anyone out there in fab-land got their ears on? Please! Make it so!

Email me and I'll help your team design the thing so right and perfect it'll make you and nerds around the world weep with joy - you can have my 25+ years of nerdly hardcore user experience - specializing in mobile computing, natch - for the price of one working shippable unit! Comon', we'll make the Palm and Psion look like ill-begotten half-bakeds!
posted by loquacious at 11:27 AM on May 31, 2007

My dad still uses his Tandy Pocket Computer for architectural calculations and as a flight computer when he flies his plane.

To my knowledge, he's never had to do anything to it except change the batteries about once every couple of months. What a great little box that is.

This Foleo? Not so much.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:41 PM on May 31, 2007

I think apple had this segment right with the newton back in 1997. The messagepad 2000 could word process and do spreadsheets and email for like twenty four hours of uptime on four AA's, and about sixteen straight on the rechargeable pack.

You could dial up over your phone to get email and you could put two PC cards in it to get on ethernet or a wired modem.

Wisecracks on the simpsons aside, the 2000 could accurately read my chickenscratch handwriting, and it had a full sized plugin keyboard for long writing.


Man, They need to make Newtons again. I love mine so much.
posted by OldReliable at 1:53 PM on May 31, 2007

I think this encapsulates the whole thing.
posted by jbelkin at 2:46 PM on May 31, 2007

The newton pretty much the same as the other pen interface PDAs, so not really what I'm looking for.

Apple tried something close with the eMate thing. But that, er, did not take off. Possible because it looked like a handbag.
posted by Artw at 3:00 PM on May 31, 2007

And here it is... I'd forgotten that it was aimed at education.

Probably the most appealing feature for its young demographic is the fact that it looks really cool.

Um. No.
posted by Artw at 3:22 PM on May 31, 2007

Coming late to the party, but here's my analysis of what the Foleo's all about. (Shorter form: we're not the target market. This is all about business applications over Web 2.0. All citizens who remember Sun's network computer are asked to report to their nearest Reprocessing center for HappyFunThink reindoctrination. Move along now ...)
posted by cstross at 1:49 PM on June 2, 2007

Via that last link, a trio of interesting looking small notebook devices. The Axus one in particular looks interesting.
posted by Artw at 12:00 AM on June 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

The people responsible for marketing the Foleo should be fired, and then sued for incompetence.

I admit, I'm perversely fascinated by this thing. Is it a good idea? Maybe. Would I use one? Maybe -- probably not, because I do more than this thing can do, but I truly do believe it can do most of what most people need to do.

Here's the thing: No information you can get from Palm will really tell you anything very useful about this machine. And that's why the marketing team should be laughed out of town.

Some very important points that hardly anybody on this thread seems to have understood* about the Foleo:
  • It does not require a data connection "plan". It does not. It just doesn't. It's a WiFi thin client, just like a Palm handheld, and it can connect to any open wireless network with the right protocol and enough signal strength. The whole "smart phone accessory" thing is just utterly baffling. Utter idiocy is the only explanation that's making any sense to me right now.
  • It can allow you to open any Office XP doc.
  • It's got a full-blown, not dumbed-down web browser and will be fully capable of running Google apps -- online, or offline, as Google is soon going to start letting us do.
Again, whether this is a good idea or not, I don't know. What really, truly irks me is that we will never find out.

Why? Well, because the fucking marketing "professionals" at Palm were fucking idiots. They worked so hard to dance around the fact that the thing is a thin client that they ended up dancing a pretty picture of a thin client. Better just to face that demon head on, and say, "This is our new thin client, and here's why we think it might work now when it's never worked before."

Thin clients were not a good idea 8-10 years ago when MS, Citrix, Sun et al were trying to do them the first time. They could be a really great idea now, because a number of really important things are different now:
  1. Hardware is faster and memory is cheap
  2. Small, light mass storage is cheap, too -- you could put a 4-6GB drive in a device like this for tiny $$
  3. Broadband is finally approaching ubiquity
  4. VOIP from linux devices is kind of almost ready, meaning it could be a Skype terminal as well as laptop
  5. There are finally a number of choices of online/offline applications to choose from -- repeat, you don't need to buy a data plan
But does any of Palm's material point out any of this stuff? Nope.

Fucking idiots. For some reason I find it hard to identify, it just makes me furious. I feel a little like I did after I saw Crash: Such a waste, such a colossal fucking waste of money, effort and talent. Something like this might well be a good idea**, but because a bunch of shitheads in Palm's marketing department screwed it up, it will be another ten years before anyone dares to try.

*And with good reason, Palm's MarCom are morons.
**This probably isn't a good idea, though: Too slow, wrong protocols (should have N, not G, if it's even got G), not enough base storage (should have a few gig of flash memory), not enough battery life (should have bit the bullet on the weight and just given it a bigger battery, heaven knows with a case that big they've got enough room).
posted by lodurr at 1:38 PM on June 11, 2007

Oops, missed the fact that cstross had chimed in. Less venom, more analysis -- he's the only reason I knew about this thing in the first place.

(What would I have to do to get my hands on a $100 laptop? I'd pay at least a couple hundred for it...)
posted by lodurr at 1:44 PM on June 11, 2007

5 hours on a charge. Best case? Ugh.
posted by meehawl at 6:51 PM on June 11, 2007

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