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Palm Foleo: It's hardware for Webware

The Foleo is not an obvious winner... until you try it.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

I owe an apology to my lunch companions at D5. When conversation turned to the Palm Foleo, I said it was a terrible idea. Overpriced, underfeatured, and too close to the well-established laptop market.

That was before I got my hands on one. It took me only a few minutes to develop a desire to get one of these for myself. This is partly because I tried the product while my back was straining from the messenger bag carrying my Thinkpad. The Foleo is tiny and light, yet big enough to hold a full keyboard and a nice screen.

Small, light, and useful. But too expensive. CNET Networks

It was also because I was in a rush, and the Foleo powered on instantly when I opened its lid (just like a Palm Pilot is instant-on).

The device does e-mail and it surfs the Web, and not much more. But most of the time, especially when I'm traveling, I don't need anything else.

Downsides: It's still too expensive. At about $500, it's over my personal tech budget for a device that does the same thing that my laptop does. And although it has Wi-Fi, you don't get full functionality unless you pair the device, via Bluetooth, to your mobile phone. This is because the Foleo's e-mail application relies on your mobile phone's e-mail client to feed it; the Wi-Fi connection is used only for Web browsing. Of course, you could use the Foleo for Web e-mail, but over a cellular connection that would be painful.

But I actually think this is great hardware for Webware. It's got problems, but it's a very slick and useful gizmo. I'd buy one if I could afford it.

See also: More Foleo pictures.