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Palm's new gizmo is...

Jeff Hawkins unveils Palm's latest at D5.

      Palm started to tease people last night with a cryptic press announcement saying that Palm founder Jeff Hawkins would be introducing a "new category of mobile device" at the D5 conference, to be followed by a live videocast.

      Jeff Hawkins unveils the Palm Foleo at D5. CNET Networks

      I'm at the conference, watching Hawkins on stage. The new product is "Foleo," an Internet interface appliance. It's got a full-size keyboard, and a nice screen. It's for accessing e-mail and the Web, and it's slim, light, and very nice-looking. But it's missing something critical: network access. That's right, it's not that useful on its own. It requires a connection via another device, like the Treo that Palm hopes you're already carrying, or any other gizmo that can share its access via Bluetooth. Update: The Foleo does have integrated Wi-Fi, though Hawkins seems to be downplaying this feature for some reason.

      The device, at about $500, is priced closely to low-end laptops. It's a lot smaller, of course, and it has Palm software so it will likely be more robust and useful on the fly than a laptop. Also, it synchronizes data to and from a smart phone. So it's a workable companion to people who live cellphone-centric lives. There are a lot of execs like that. The thing is, most of them already have laptops.

      Stay tuned for more. Also, see TreoCentral for the early scoop.

      More info:

    • 5 hours of workable battery life, and the charger is cell phone-size, not a giant laptop brick.
    • Weighs under 2.5 pounds, and is less than an inch thick.
    • No touch pad -- uses a pointer like a Thinkpad.
    • It runs Linux.
    • All solid-state, of course, no hard disk.