Smartphone manufacturer Palm will offer a wireless cellphone charging pad, called the Touchstone, as an accessory for the upcoming Palm Pre. This marks the first occasion a major handset maker has adopted the technology, which uses electromagnetic induction to supply the Pre’s battery with energy. Palm first announced the Touchstone at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January.
Price and inventory dates for the Touchstone appeared on Best Buy’s internal inventory system, according to various reports. The Touchstone is listed for $69.99 while in in-stock date is listed as May 10. Palm, located in Sunnyvale, Calif., has remained silent on when the highly anticipated launch of the Pre will occur, although unconfirmed reports suggest a debut in early June.
Ross Rubin, an analyst with research firm Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group, told the San Francisco Chronicle about the “tremendous” potential for wireless charging technology. Electromagnetic induction concerns the production of voltage across a conductor situated in a changing magnetic field.
“Virtually any surface could be turned into a charging pad – a whole desk, a conference room or walls,” he told the Chronicle. “It could really usher in a whole new level of convenience and extension of battery life as products are charged passively.”
There are few details (and no release date) for the Touchstone available on Palm’s Web site, although the company describes how magnets in the charging dock align the user’s phone in the correct position for charging. Palm said users could charge while checking their calendar or watching videos. Speakerphone will automatically turn on if you set the Pre on the Touchstone mid-call. If ringing the Pre will automatically answer a call if removed from the dock.
The Pre smartphone features a multi-touch screen, sliding keyboard and will be the first to use Palm’s Linux-based operating system Palm webOS. Other features includes voice connectivity, text messaging, email functionality, an integrated 3 megapixel digital camera, 3G internet access powered by a full mobile web browser and support for third-party applications.
Neither Palm nor mobile carrier Sprint have officially revealed no price, though rumors on technology blogs suggest a $199 price, with a two year contract. That price point would put the Pre in direct competition with Apple’s touchscreen iPhone, also priced just under $200 when users accept a two-year contract with carrier AT&T.