Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:
If anything, Palm's Foleo seems like it was designed to elicit instant geek cred. It's small, thin and light, and its solid state storage helps provide long battery life. It has instant-on capabilities and supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It even runs Linux and all for only $500. However, quite to the contrary, much of the reaction to Palm's latest mobile foray has run the gamut from confusion to scorn, with some calling the product "Folly-o" or "Fooleo."
The core problem that the Foleo seeks to address is easy to understand, but its positioning is a moving target. Here's how early adopters are becoming lost in Foleo's rationale:
Palm: Smartphones continue to gain more processing power and more memory.
Users: OK, that's fair enough.
Palm: However, they are still deficient in input and output.
Users: Well, there sure are compromises, we can agree. I drag my laptop around when I need more.
Palm: So, what we need is a whole new device with a large screen and keyboard
Users: Whoa, why not create some kind of keyboard dock with a big screen for the Treo, like all those speaker docks for the iPod?
Palm: That's clumsy. We consider this a smartphone companion.
Users: I didn't realize my smartphone was lonely.