For those of you having a hard time imaging what the Foleo is exactly, here's a rundown:
It's by no means a laptop and Jeff Hawkins said he honestly doesn't see it as a notebook replacement. Rather it's an instant-on 2.5 pound "information appliance" that makes it quick and easy to browse the web, view MS Office documents and get your email. It costs far less than the ultralight notebooks it seems to resemble at first glance, though not much less than a larger budget notebook. It's a virus-free, instant-on web terminal of sorts, not unlike the Nokia N800 we reviewed a few months ago, but with a much larger display and an integrated full keyboard. So it's easy on the eyes and you won't go crazy trying to type on it. That display is 10", with a resolution of 1024 x 600, and it is NOT a touch screen. You can navigate on screen using the IBM eraser stick pointing device embedded in the keyboard and there's a scroll button too. The Foleo has a VGA port that handles 1024 x 768 resolution and you just plug the projector in to use it (no fiddling with settings).
The Foleo has WiFi so you need not use a Treo and data plan to access the web on the Foleo. Of course you can use your Treo as a wireless modem for the Foleo if you wish. The Foleo connects to the Treo via Bluetooth, and it only syncs email-- not contacts or calendar items. Palm tells us that the Foleo can read contacts from your Treo however, so you need not look up an email address on the Treo, then type it in your email on the Foleo. You will however have to pull out your Treo to check your calendar should you receive a meeting request or an invite for a hot date .
The Foleo has a password protection feature, and you can set it to require that password only when your Treo is out of Bluetooth range (nice).
Speaking of the Treo, Palm says they'll initially support the various Treo models at launch, but they plan to (try) to support all smartphones, even BlackBerry.
Hawkins said the Foleo's processor wasn't up to handling video playback (surprising given that even lowly 200MHz smartphones manage low bitrate video playback, as do Treos). The Opera 9 web browser supports Flash but not YouTube video. There is a photo viewer for a little fun though. And the device has a headphone jack, so we assume it will have some kind of music player.
We just had a little chat with the folks at Palm this afternoon, and they told us the initial release will be "sometime this summer" and it will at first be available only in Palm stores and on Palm's web site. It will have wider distribution later in the year and there's no carrier roll-out (as a Treo accessory) yet.
They told us the CPU is a secret, but the device has 256 megs of flash memory for storage with 128 megs used by the OS and pre-loaded apps (Dataviz Documents To Go, a PDF viewer, Opera). It has a CF card slot under the battery to expand storage and an SD card slot on the side of the machine. No word on how much RAM it has.
The Foleo has USB host, so you can use flash drives and mice-- cool!
It's running what they called a "standard Linux kernel" that's been heavily customized by Palm. We imagine it bears some relation to the Linux they'll put in future Linux-based Treos.
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview