Thursday, May 31, 2007

Not My Foleo

Tom Krazit over at CNET has a piece that pretty well summarizes some of the problems that I have with Palm's new Foleo--which is essentially a svelte network computer in a laptop form factor. Although the new not-yet-shipping device has its supporters, the overall chatter has been pretty negative. I hate to pile on, and probably wouldn't, but I'm such a natural customer for this and yet I'm not rally all that interested.

Why am I a natural customer? Well, first of all, I have a Treo 700p, a smartphone that is the intended companion to the Foleo. Second, I am a big fan of Foleo attributes such as small and light. Instant-on too. I used a Jornada 820 for several years for notetaking when I traveled. I only abandoned it when I got a more compact laptop (a Fujitsu P5020) and the lack of wireless networking (and even limited wired networking because of outdated software) became just too limiting. So I get the tradeoffs associated with having something compact and portable; I've consistently tilted in that direction when I've made my device choices.

So why is my initial reaction to the Foleo negative?

Because it's neither fish nor fowl. The Treo is a step function form factor reduction from a laptop (which, of course, brings with it some usability limits). I can pull it out of my pocket to check and respond to email without opening up a "computer." I don't need to carry a bag to transport it. And it gets a full day of battery life or better. In short, it's fundamentally different from a laptop.

This isn’t. It doesn’t have the pocketability of my Treo. At the same time, it’s only incrementally smaller/lighter/faster-to-start than my laptop—while not being able to do lots of things I can do with a laptop. Perhaps if I used a big, high-end “desktop replacement” style of notebook, I’d see this as a more useful intermediate point but as things stand, I really don’t.

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