Palm has done some things that in retrospect were way ahead of their time. The original Palm Pilot was groundbreaking, putting technology in your pocket like nothing else before it. webOS utilized web technologies three years ago in a manner other companies - web companies - were only daydreaming about at the time. And then there was the Palm Foleo, a short-lived smartphone companion pseudo-lapotop introduced by Palm back in 2007. The Foleo was meant to wirelessly hook up with your Palm OS smartphone and serve up a set of companion apps so you could reply to emails, compose documents, browse the web, and more, all through your Treo or Centro but with a big ten-inch screen and a full-size keyboard.
The Foleo was an interesting concept, but one that turns out to have been a few years ahead of its time and the technology needed to pull it off. While Motorola has been struggling with uptake of their Lapdock accessories for plug-and-play smartphones, iPad keyboard dock maker ClamCase this week revealed their newest product: the ClamBook Laptop Dock. ClamBook is like a modern version of the Foleo, except for iOS and Android devices. The quasi thin client notebook packs a big widescreen with better speakers, battery, and keyboard than you can put in a smartphone. Unlike the Foleo, the ClamBook isn't a companion type product - it's simply an accessory, serving as a dumb screen and keyboard and letting the smartphone do all of the heavy lifting. It takes advantage of the video-out capabilities of modern Android and iOS smartphones.
This week has been a bit of a blast-from-the-past week in more ways than one, and though not a product of Palm, HP, or even webOS compatible, we can't help but have mixed emotions about it. It's a cool concept, and if priced appropriately could very well be competitive (unlike the ridiculous $600 Palm wanted to charge for the Foleo). The Foleo was cancelled three months after unveiling (with its unlongevity record beaten four years later by the TouchPad), we expect the ClamBook to be around for at least a little while longer.
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