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Palm Foleo Turns Smartphones Into Stupid Laptops

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Palm today rolled out the details on a new device which extends the functionality of smartphones. Dubbed the Foleo, it’s a companion product for both Palm OS and Windows Mobile versions of Treo smartphones.

Palm Foleo

In a nutshell, Foleo adds a big screen and a full size keyboard to your mobile phone. It interfaces with your smartphone via a Wi-Fi connection and lets you share documents instantly and seamlessly between the two. Slated for release this summer, the Foleo is a simplified computer with companion versions of e-mail, web browser and document editors, designed to improve the usability and access to the documents on your Treo.

On the plus side, Foleo has a really nice 10-inch LCD screen, a svelte form factor, and weights in at just 2.5 pounds. Battery life is rated at 5 hours, and there’s no boot time for the system. Also, the Foleo runs on a Linux kernel, so Palm is promising easy development of 3rd-party applications for the device.

On the other hand, with a retail price of $599 ($499 after an introductory rebate,) I’m not sure there’s enough of an advantage of the Foleo over a low-priced laptop computer running already existing mobile device synchronization software.