Palm Foleo – a smartphone's best friend?

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Palm has launched what it calls ” a smartphone’s new best friend” – the Palm Foleo – which packs a large laptop-type screen, a normal sized keyboard and access to a Palm Treo’s features via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

It’s being billed as an all-new product category – but whether it’s one that’s actually needed is open to question. Isn’t the point of a smartphone over a laptop portability? But if you’ve got room in your bag, the Foleo pairs with your Palm smartphone, staying synchronised throughout the day – so if you edit a document on one, it is edited on the other.

“Foleo is the most exciting product I have ever worked on,” said Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm, Inc. “Smartphones will be the most prevalent personal computers on the planet, ultimately able to do everything that desktop computers can do. However, there are times when people need a large screen and full-size keyboard. As smartphones get smaller, this need increases. The Foleo completes the picture, creating a mobile-computing system that sets a new standard in simplicity.”

The Foleo pairs with Palm Treo smartphones, but should work with any Windows Mobile device. It has a Linux-based operating system, 10-inch screen, USB connectivity, video-out port, headphone jack, slots for SD and compact flash cards, editors for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus a PDF viewer and a 5-hour battery life

Useful device or pointless add-on? If you decide on the former, it will launch in the US over summer for $499. No news on UK pricing

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Dave Walker