Palm has revealed its Palm Foleo mobile companion - a mini-notebook style Linux-based computer featuring a large 10-inch display and a full Qwerty keyboard. The Foleo, which is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth equipped, is primarily designed to sync up with Palm Treo and other smartphone devices, enabling users to view and edit documents when larger displays and full keyboards are required. It is expected to go on sale in the US this summer, priced at an introductory $499 (£250).

The Palm Foleo runs on a Linux-based operating system and features built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The Foleo can be set to automatically sync up with its paired smartphone either all day or at the touch of a button. Once initially synced, the devices will automatically sync email when they wirelessly connect.

Also, edits made on the Foleo are automatically updated on the smartphone, and similarly document or email work done on the Treo is automatically synced on the Foleo.

Usefully, the Foleo turns on and off immediately without having to wait to boot up. In addition, users don't have to save documents or changes before powering down - the Foleo automatically stores changes when switched off, and resumes where the user left off when turned on again.

Linux based Folio

By building the folio on the open source Linux platform, Palm is hoping to encourage the developer community to produced new applications for the Foleo. Although the Foleo's primary role is a mobile companion, it can also function as a standalone notebook, running Linux applications.

The Palm Folio is fully enabled for web browsing, using its Wi-Fi to connect to the internet or via by using the smartphone as a wireless modem. Other applications onboard the Foleo include email and a version of Documents To Go document editors for Word, Excel and PowerPoint files and a PDF viewer. It has slots for SD card and CompactFlash cards, a USB port, video-out port and a headphones jack.

The Foleo mobile companion boasts a battery life of up to five hours in use. Initially the Foleo has been set up to work seamlessly with Palm Treo smartphones running both Palm and Windows Mobile operating systems. Palm believes the Foleo will also be able to work with most smartphones using Windows Mobile with little or no modification. Smartphones running on Symbian, RIM and future Apple iPhones' operating systems could be supported with a "modest software effort", Palm claims.

"Foleo is the most exciting product I have ever worked on," commented Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm, Inc. "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... The Foleo completes the picture, creating a mobile-computing system that sets a new standard in simplicity."

Palm Foleo Mobile Companion - Key Features

  • One-button access to full-screen email
  • Instant on, instant off
  • Rapid access to applications
  • 10-inch screen and full-size keyboard
  • Linux OS for easy application development
  • Wi-Fi
  • Web browsing via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi
  • Wireless Email
  • Automatic syncing with smartphone
  • Editors for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus a PDF viewer
  • Compact, lightweight design
  • Fast, simple and intuitive navigation
  • 5-hour battery life