Palm has used Linux to build what its calling a “new class” of mobile device. The Foleo is designed to expand the e-mail, Internet and productivity application capabilities of mobile phones such as the Palm Treo by adding a full-size keyboard and a larger screen.
Very few details about the Foleo are known at this point. Opera, which supplied its Opera 9 browser for the device, has confirmed the Foleo will be based on Linux. For its part, Palm has published a few photos and brief videos of the device, while promising to release more details May 31.
In one video, Palm founder Jeff Hawkins said Palm plans to ship a complete line of Foleo devices supporting a wide variety of mobile phones. He predicts that the Foleo will be more successful than Palms original Palm Pilot, which he designed, and more successful than its current Treo smart phones, which he helped design.
Hawkins emphasized that initial Foleo models will be focused on expanding the e-mail capabilities of Palms Treo smart phones. A physical button on the device opens an e-mail client that keeps itself synchronized with the e-mail client on the users smart phone. Similar capabilities for office documents are also planned.
Hawkins also proudly touted the Foleos instant-on and -off capabilities, saying, “Press a button, its on. Press it again, its off. There are no other modes.”
Given its advanced power management and use of Operas Opera 9 for Devices browser, the Foleo is likely based on a low-powered embedded processor, rather than by anything in the x86 family. One possibility is Intels ARM-based Xscale processors, which Palm uses in its Treo smart phones. Another possibility is TIs ARM11-based i.MX31, which recently gained an Opera 9 port.
The Foleo weighs 2.4 pounds, according to reports, and sports a “full-size” keyboard. Navigation is done via a TrackPoint nub in the keyboard, while a roller wheel below the keyboard offers fast scrolling.