Asus Eee PC 2GB Up Close

On a recent trip to the local discount warehouse shopping club, my junior podcaster Meghan and I ran across a real Asus Eee PC 2GB sub-notebook in the electronics section. (I did have to fight the strong buy impulse. If there was a 4GB version in the store for less than $100 more, I probably would have purchased that unit on the spot. Don’t let anyone tell you price isn’t a factor. Availability, or unavailability in this case, was a bigger factor.)

This was the first time I’ve seen an Eee PC in the “wild” and was rather shocked by it. I was caught of guard by how small the device really was. I know that 7-inches isn’t much smaller than 10-inches, but the Eee PC looked small. As you can see from the photo, if I had both hands on the keyboard, things were going to get a bit cramped. The other thing that I noticed right off the bat was how cheaply made the keys felt. You have to keep in mind that there has to be some trade offs with a $299 sub-notebook. (I must admit that I don’t know if this was a real unit or just a display unit.) I was really hoping to see and play with the Linux OS that was installed on this device. Regrettably, the unit was not charged up or plugged into a power source.

One of the things that I really do like about these ultra portables sub-notebooks is that they are considerably smaller than regular notebook computers. In meetings, I don’t like to use my 15-inch Dell Latitude because I feel that it creates a barrier between myself and the other attendees. With sub-notebook machines, you can still get the utility of a notebook computer for taking notes and minutes in the meeting without creating an “us and them” atmosphere.

I’ve pretty much have come to the conclusion that IR and Bluetooth keyboards used in conjunction with my Palm Treo 755p just isn’t working for me any longer. Alignment and connection issues with the keyboards and Palm OS devices make the solution too time consuming to be useful in a meeting with my peers and customers. An elegant instant on and get down to work device fits my current work style much better.

Last summer I was really spoiled by what I saw in a pre-release version of the Palm Foleo mobile companion. These new crop of sub-notebook computers, of which the Asus Eee PC is one, have really come close to capturing what I though was so special about the Foleo (size, design, ease of use, options, and battery life). I will be interested in seeing a live 9-inch Eee PC when they arrive here in the United States later this year. I’m also interested in seeing how well the rumored HP Compaq 3122 to my memory of the Foleo and the Eee PC.

Should I get the Asus Eee PC?

In the discussion thread for a recent 1SRC Editorial, My Mobile Companion, a few readers asked why I still pine for a Palm Foleo and not just get an Asus Eee PC?

The long and short of it is that I’m just not convinced about the software. Yes, I know that I can run Windows XP or Vista on it, but I’ll have to purchase a new license, and that will drive up the costs.

I like the idea of this form factor. But I’m just not sure about the software. My main use for a Treo and a keyboard, or the Foleo, was the ability to use DataViz Documents To Go for notes and document creation and editing. If I had Windows and Office (another license I’ll need to buy, further driving up the cost of a Eee PC) I could do all of the same tasks as a Treo and keyboard or the Foleo.

I guess it all really comes down to personal choice.

Palm Foleo Makes Popular Mechanics 10 Worst List

Popular Mechanics has released their Top 10 Worst Gadgets list for 2007. Coming in at number 1 is Palm’s Foleo mobile companion.

Erik Sofge, writes for Popular Mechanics:

“Sometimes, a product makes a Worst of the Year list for all the wrong reasons. Take the Foleo, Palm’s perfectly reasonable attempt to revolutionize ultra-lightweight laptops. We tested this 2.4-pound computer, which ran for up to 5 hours per charge, and despite a relentless pre-release trash-talking from the tech world (mainly from bloggers who hadn’t touched the thing) we liked it.

The 10.2-in. screen and meager flash-based storage were good enough for word processing and Web surfing. Without even realizing it, we started carrying it everywhere. Within days, the tiny machine was a fixture in our dorky lives, tucked under our arms, popping open at every meeting, and drawing as many chortles as breathless questions. Like it or pity it, the Foleo was generating a buzz.

But before a single Foleo hit the shelves, Palm killed it, claiming that they needed more time to develop the Foleo 2. The bloggers won, Palm lost, and our review unit became a bizarre unreleased prequel to a product that might never exist. It wasn’t perfect, but the Foleo deserved better. “

Just for the record, I was one of the bloggers who did touch a Foleo. And I’m waiting, not too patiently I might add, for the Foleo II running Palm OS II.

Read the full Popular Mechanics article

[Thanks to bulls96 for the tip.]

More Foleo Photos from GearDiary

The folks at GearDiary.com continue to remind us of the canceled Palm Foleo by posting more screen shots of the Foleo’s applications and operating system.

I know that many of the readers of this site are true Foleo Fanatics and that seems to also be true of the folks over at Gear Diary. Looking at the photos, specifically the first screen shot of the web browser showing the Gear Diary website, you will see the article titled “Do You Tweet?”. I wanted to know how old this photo was, so I searched the site for the article, and I was surprised to see that the article “Do You Tweet?” was posted just a few days ago on November 14, 2007. Either these guys are really good at predicting the future or they have access to pre-production Foleo.

And that leave me wondering, just where are they getting their fantastic toys?

The Palm Foleo Interface via GearDiary.com

[Thanks to my anonymous tipster who sent this in…]

Rumor: “Foleo II” Will Use New Hardware

It has only been a short while since Palm CEO Ed Colligan announced on the Palm blog that the Foleo mobile companion was going to be canceled to allow Palm to focus on the development of “Palm OS II” which would be used to drive future solutions from his company.

As a result, beta testers of the Foleo I where asked to box their units up and send them home. (I should point out that I was not selected to be a beta tester.) An interesting post has shown up in the TreoCentral discussion forum. TreoCentral member Gameboy 70, who was a Foleo beta tester wrote:

“I just found out yesterday that I have to return my Foleo to Palm. The email stated that development of the current Foleo has ended, and that “A Foleo II will have different hardware,” which was tantalizing. “A” Foleo II makes it sound hypothetical, while “will” sounds imminent. I originally thought Palm was going to take a few more months to augment the firmware and flash the existing units.”

If this is true, I am encouraged by these developments. Many of the readers of Foleo Fanatics have already bought into the idea of the Foleo and the customer base it will support. This report of a new hardware design could signal that Palm could be making changes to the hardware that will allow Foleo II to return as an even more powerful device in the future.

One of the well publicized “issues” with the Foleo was that it couldn’t play Flash video, like those used by YouTube, as well as Palm and their customers had hoped. (I know that this issue was software based.)

Could new hardware be part of the future plans for the Foleo? The demo unit that I was able to play with did seem to be production grade. The keyboard felt solid and the lid and hinges seemed sturdy. Could Palm be mulling over a faster processor? More memory perhaps? Or could they be looking at newer battery technology to provide even longer run time on a single charge? Only Palm knows for sure at this point. Regardless I am encouraged by the prospects of a refreshed hardware design that could allow the Foleo to do even more than the original demo units.

What are your thoughts on the prospects for a Foleo II? Let us know by clicking the Comments link below.

Read Gameboy70’s post on TreoCentral

[Thanks to the tipster who sent this in.]

The Inquirer Talks about Foleo

The Inquirer has a new article posted that talks about the Centro and the “not-Centro-smartphone” coming to Europe next week, and the fate of the Foleo Mobile Companion.

The Inquirer writes:

“The new product is not, contrary to much chatter on the web, the Centro, of which little is known other than what can be gleaned from the usual murky shots snapped by PDA-obsessed sites. Instead it’s a Treo that will be launched with partners Vodafone and Microsoft at a London press conference next Wednesday.

Unless the new Treo is something very special, however, it won’t stop the chatter on Palm-stalking blogs and websites where some of the big questions being asked include:

Will there be availability of product on auction and other sites?

Did the mewling of fanbois kill a good product?

and,

Could the Foleo rise phoenix-like from the ashes?”

Oh ya and Foleo Fanatics was mentioned in the article too.

Read New Treo loom as Foleo lives on in blogosphere

[Thanks to the tipster who sent this in.]

Thank you

Yesterday’s news that Palm has canceled the Foleo was, to say the least, a little bit surprising. As you know, the Foleo was very close to being completed and released.

I was reviewing the traffic logs for Foleo Fanatics this morning and discovered that September 4th was the single busiest day for the site. Thank you for your continued support. As I stated yesterday, I will continue to cover the news and provide analysis on the Palm community.

I would also like to thank all of the folks who emailed me and left comments here on Foleo Fanatics. I know many of us were looking forward to being able to use a Foleo, either as a companion to the Treo or as a stand alone computer, in the coming weeks.

For Palm, their immediate priorities should be to complete the work on “Palm OS II”, complete the work on the first smart device (be it a Treo or Centro) that will run that operating system, test it, and deliver a stable product platform for their customers. As I stated in last week’s 1SRC.com Editorial, Mobile Linux – The Key to Device Interoperability, it is important for Palm to have synergies between devices. The decision by Palm to move resources off the Foleo I project and on to a new Linux OS and smartphones is a signal that Palm understands their the current marketplace and is now executing a plan to realign their business with the market.

Palm Cancels the Foleo

In a Palm company blog post earlier today, CEO Ed Colligan announced to Palm’s customers, partners, and developers that the Foleo mobile companion project was being canceled. Mr. Colligan writes:

“As many of you are aware, we are in the process of building our next generation software platform. We are very excited about how this is coming together. It has a modern flexible UI, instant performance, and an incredibly simple and elegant development environment. We are working hard on this platform and on the first smartphone that will take advantage of it.

In the course of the past several months, it has become clear that the right path for Palm is to offer a single, consistent user experience around this new platform design and a single focus for our platform development efforts. To that end, and after careful deliberation, I have decided to cancel the Foleo mobile companion product in its current configuration and focus all of our energies on delivering out next generation platform and the first smartphones that will bring this platform to market. We will, of course, continue to develop products in partnership with Microsoft on the Windows Mobile platform, but from our internal platform development perspective, we will focus on only one.”

While this decision is hard to accept, especially here at Foleo Fanatics, I can understand Palm’s decision to move forward and put all of the company’s available resources into developing “Palm OS II” and the new smartphone hardware that it will run on.

Later this week, I plan on addressing this issue in my weekly 1SRC.com podcast. I will post more details as they become available.

Foleo Fanatics – Moving Forward

Foleo Fanatics was launched earlier this year to cover the Foleo Mobile Companion product and the smart devices that would have worked with it. Since the introduction of the Foleo this past May, Foleo Fanatics has enjoyed a fair amount of traffic from Palm enthusiasts around the world. Because of the community we have built around this site, I intend to continue to bring you the news and analysis from the Palm community, including the upcoming Centro smart device, “Palm OS II”, and Palm’s future developments around future plans for the “Foleo II” project.

I would like to thank all of my readers who have been visiting Foleo Fanatics over the last few months and look forward to continuing to provide you with your Palm community news.

Alan Grassia
Editor, Foleo Fanatics

Companion or Stand Alone Product

Ever since Palm announced the Foleo back in May they have been fighting an uphill battle to try and convince people that the Foleo is not a sub-notebook or Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC).

So while I’m waiting for my chance to buy my Foleo, I have to wonder if Palm should just go with the flow as it where and market the Foleo for what is is being perceived as: a light weight Linux notebook.

Palm wouldn’t have to take anything away from the Foleo being a great companion product for the company’s smartphones. What they would be gaining, after some shoring up in the software department, is a new market of customers who would use the Foleo as a mobile computer.

What do you think? Click the Comments link below and let us know.