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Palm unveils notebook companion

Smartphone vendor Palm unveiled a Linux-based gadget on Wednesday, but the new addition to the Palm family is not a phone.

The Foleo, described as a “mobile companion”, more resembles a notebook with its 10″ screen and full size keyboard.

The Linux-based device features a suite of applications including email, a full screen web browser, and viewers and editors for common office documents such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files.

The Foleo can be paired with a Palm phone and edits made on Foleo are either automatically are reflected on its paired smartphone and vice versa or can by synced at the touch of a button.

The gadget turns on and off instantly and packs a battery that lasts up to 5 hours of use. It has on board Bluetooth and wifi and can use the paired phone’s cellular radio for fully mobile connectivity. A USB port, video-out port, headphone jack, and slots for SD and compact flash cards for memory expansion also feature.

“Foleo is the most exciting product I have ever worked on,” said Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm and the visionary behind the Foleo. “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.”

Although Foleo will work with Palm’s Treo and Windows Mobile smartphones, Palm reckons that most smartphones based on Windows Mobile should work with little or no modification, while smartphones based on operating systems from Research in Motion, Apple, and Symbian likely can be supported with a modest software effort.

The Foleo’s synchronisation architecture is open, and Palm expects to work with third-party developers to support as many smartphones as possible, the company said.

US availability for the Foleo will begin this summer and the price is expected to be $499 after an introductory $100 rebate.

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