MobileInfocenter

Palm Touchstone Hands on Impressions

Palm Touchstone AccessoryNearly lost amidst the one-two hoopla punch that was Palm's Pre and WebOS announcements on Thursday was the release of a very unique and interesting Palm-branded accessory. Drastically different in both appearance and functionality and possessing much more pizzazz any past Palm's accessory release, the Palm Touchstone is simply a stunning little device in its own right that deserves a further look for anyone who is traditionally fond of desktop charging cradle solutions.

As mentioned in my previous article on Palm‘s Pre accessories, the Touchstone essentially resembles a reduced-size slanted hockey puck. Several Palm staffers actually called it the "charging puck cradle" during the Pre demo sessions. Charging time is listed as four hours, though the Palm reps stated that a ‘good charge" could be achieved in much less time. A series of strong magnets inside the Touchstone lend it a solid feel and also keep the device impressively secure on the puck's surface and properly aligned.

Palm Touchstone

While the Touchstone offers the expected charging capabilities, it is not a "Hotsync" cradle in the traditional sense, as Palm's new WebOS is entirely "cloud"-based, with all of the user's data residing online or on the device itself. So while devoid of desktop synchronization, the Touchstone is merely a sleek desktop charger that does have some level of interactivity with the Pre itself.

All of the information I have received from Palm staffers states that the Touchstone will be available simultaneously or shortly after the Pre's launch with Sprint. No pricing information was given, but we were repeatedly assured that the replacement Pre battery cover would be included in the Touchstone packaging. However, conflicting information is given on Palm's Touchstone site here stating that it will be an extra-cost accessory. Let's keep our fingers crossed that this website info is a typo and that Palm will indeed include the replacement cover alongside the Touchstone.

Palm Touchstone dock

Regardless of whether or not the battery cover is included, the Touchstone will charge the pre via the special battery cover via induction technology. The replacement battery cover is by all appearances nearly identical to the stock cover and does not extend the bulk or weight of the Pre. The back inductive cover units being shown at the demo stations only differed in that they sported a matte, soft-touch like exterior finish.

During the tail end of the Pre announcement on Thursday, Jon Rubinstein led into his opening remarks on the Touchstone with a few comments about being a fan of "ecosystems". After that tantalizing statement, one can only hope that Palm is moving swiftly to prepare an equally impressive line of software, services, and additional accessories to compliment the Pre.

Palm Pre Touchstone

As initially referenced by Rubinstein and Colligan, and detailed further by various Palm reps, the Touchstone is an "intelligent" cradle. For example, if a user is talking on their Pre and sets it down on the Touchstone, the phone will switch to speakerphone mode. Accordingly, If a call is received while the users' Pre is docked on the Touchstone, the user can answer the call and have it automatically answer when picked up. It can also auto answer and jump right into the speakerphone if you prefer to leave it rest on the dock. Do note that no actual speaker or microphone is built into the base of the Touchstone, it's all handled by the Pre via some clever software integration.

One interesting aspect of the Touchstone is the underside of the unit. Its footprint is covered with a powerful suction cup apparatus. The adhesion with which it grips a glass desktop is phenomenal. I grabbed the Touchstone and had to exert a tremendous effort to remove it from the glass desktop in the Palm lounge. I did not ask about its adhesive properties on other surfaces but the rep assured us that it would be a very solid connection to most flat, smooth surfaces.

The build quality of the Touchstone was quite good and it felt impressively solid in my hand. Also, while I was unable to confirm this with 100% certainty, but a rep did state that the Touchstone will use the standard microUSB AC adapter like the Treo Pro, 800w and Pre, though a spare charger will be included alongside the Touchstone.

Touchstone

Though no platform war is won or lost via accessories, this is a very strong complimentary piece from Palm and their industrial design team. The Touchstone will likely make for an interesting conversation starter on anyone‘s desk. In fact, after spending some time hands-on with the Touchstone, I had a momentary flashback to the heady days of the late 90s go-go dot-com era, recalling the iconic images of a docked Palm V alongside a Herman Miller Aeron chair and envisioning this year's Pre + Touchstone combo as a modernized pairing of "organic tech". Yes, folks, the design and overall execution of the Touchstone strikes me as that impressive.

Additional details and images of the Touchstone are available on Palm's site.

Article Comments

 (27 comments)

The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. PalmInfocenter is not responsible for them in any way.
Please Login or register here to add your comments.

Start a new Comment Down

the cloud and palm..

cgk @ 1/13/2009 3:32:05 PM # Q
"While the Touchstone offers the expected charging capabilities, it is not a "Hotsync" cradle in the traditional sense, as Palm's new WebOS is entirely "cloud"-based, with all of the user's data residing online or on the device itself."

Next you talk to them ask if palm online desktop is going to be at http://www.mypalm.com (which is the address for their failed portal and is hanging around doing nothing).

http://knighttime.blogspot.com/

RE: the cloud and palm..
sford @ 1/13/2009 4:13:21 PM # Q
Hmm...intriguing.

Pilot Pro, III, IIIe, Nino (yeah...oops!), IIIc, VIIx, m505, NR70V, NZ90, NX60, T3, Zire 72s, NX80V, Treo 90, Treo 650
RE: the cloud and palm..
hkklife @ 1/13/2009 4:19:34 PM # Q
For those of us not in the "cloud", or with just a hardly-used Hotmail addy for spam, I predict Palm will offer their "Pre Me" or "PalmWweb"all-in-one cloud service (perhaps Yahoo-powered) with your own palmweb.net or whatever e-mail addres, calendar, automatic wireless backup service etc, for the low sum of $15 per month. It may very likely reside at the URL you mention (Longtime Palm followers will recall that the the mypalm domain has had a very, very, long & dramatic history).

Palm's reps kinda/sorta hinted at making it "very easy" for someone to get their head in the clouds even if they have no webmail/web calendar etc. presence currently. So I naturally assumed that to mean they'd have some subscription-based branded service of their own to offer us.

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->?

RE: the cloud and palm..
cgk @ 1/13/2009 4:59:51 PM # Q
Thing is - it's not just palm, if companies can move you to a subscription rather than application model it makes more sense to them - this is *purely my guesswork* but think about the following:

* Splash ID - needs to sync to the desktop right?

http://www.splashid.com is already live - how hard would it be to provide a pre client and add that to the subscription fee.

* Chapura - do desktop sync apps right?

They current offer keynotes for the iphone - and what's keynotes - "MyChapura stores your information on our Web servers. This is commonly referred to as the "cloud." When you make a change in Outlook or on your device and synchronize, that change is sent up to the cloud." - so they already own the infrastructure to support cloud computing and of course the cost per user of providing that (their cost not the customers) would be lower if they provided something similar to pre users.

* Quicken - needs a desktop right?

http://quicken.intuit.com/online-banking-finances.jsp

and on and on and on.

That's a powerful value proposition to offer to developers, you aren't selling apps, you are providing services. Now of course not everyone wants to put that source of information in the cloud and they aren't suddenly going to stop all offline products but I can certainly see them push consumers towards the subscription model.



RE: the cloud and palm..
bhartman34 @ 1/14/2009 2:02:32 PM # Q
I seem to recall Palm reps saying they were going to make it easy for users to get their information to and and from the desktop, in addition to the "cloud".

To me, the only thing that makes sense to have in the "cloud" (so that you can access it wherever you are) are e-mail, contact information, and bookmarks/favorites. I might add word processing and spreadsheet files to that list, but nothing about the Pre (so far, at least) screams "editing" or even "viewing", necessarily. A 3.1" screen probably isn't going to be your chosen way of looking at Word or Excel files. They should (and probably will, if DataViz's inclusion in their partners means anything) include Documents To Go (whichever version they're currently shipping w/ the Centro), but I don't see the need to specifically sync with the Internet for this purpose. Putting documents in the cloud is good for collaborative editing, but how much editing are you really going to do with the Pre? (Note to self: The above comments are withdrawn the minute I see a decent Bluetooth keyboard released that works with the Pre.)



RE: the cloud and palm..
Gekko @ 1/14/2009 2:06:53 PM # Q

your data will be up, up and away -

i can't get this song out of my head -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXqOipNgKG8



RE: the cloud and palm..
hkklife @ 1/14/2009 2:14:49 PM # Q
I MUCH prefer this version! Juliette kicks arse in this 'un!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaH0TAOCqYk



Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->?

RE: the cloud and palm..
Gekko @ 1/14/2009 2:27:47 PM # Q

wow...that was disturbing.

RE: the cloud and palm..
Gekko @ 1/14/2009 2:35:23 PM # Q


i wouldn't be so against the cloud if the cloud was fast, reliable, secure, easy, flexible, and free. give me those characteristics and i will cloud.

RE: the cloud and palm..
hkklife @ 1/14/2009 3:19:20 PM # Q
FYI, I was talking about the song (not the bizarre video) and that was Juliette Lewis singing on it.


My take on it is...give the cloud 3ish years and it'll be fast, reliable, secure, easy, and flexible. It'll never be "free". In fact, I predict that these "nebulous" platforms like Android, iPhone and WebOS are essentially intended to nickel & dime users to death at every possible turn.

Remember the good old days of us biotching about overpriced $50 Palm OS apps? Well, I predict the cloud will have us remembering the days of Dataviz and their overpriced upgrades with overhwleming nostalgia.

The $1 iPhone novelty apps aside, I predict we'll start seeing $5 here, $2 there type of service subscriptons. One monthly fee for Handmark, one for MobiTV, one for Docs2Go, another fee for your Telenav app, another to have your Facebook-friendly SplashPhoto app, another fee for some Steam-tyle WebOS game portal etc etc etc. That kind of stuff can get out of hand pretty quickly as far as $ go!

If you think about it, Palm might be trying to mimic not only just Apple but what the dumbphone "app stores" have been doing for years now with their little java games and apps. In fact, that lucrative monthly revenue stream might be how Palm is enticing developers back to the fold.

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->?

RE: the cloud and palm..
mikecane @ 1/14/2009 3:23:45 PM # Q
>>>I MUCH prefer this version! Juliette kicks arse in this 'un!

What a gyp that video was. I was looking forward to SWAT splattering all those little ... um ... fill in the term.

One thing the Pre needs for the cloud, btw, is MySpace integration too.

Reply to this comment

Really, it's an Apple touch

mikecane @ 1/13/2009 3:43:43 PM # Q
Given the metallic back the iPhone v1 had, this kind of charging stand would have been a natural for it, no? (EEs are probably laughing at my eejitcy, envisioning people getting a nice shock via the all-metal back! *sigh* It's *still* an Apple touch, dammit!)

Reply to this comment

two things

Gekko @ 1/13/2009 4:14:49 PM # Q

1. why would you want the inductive back to be bundled with the touchstone? i only need ONE inductive back but i might need 2+ touchstones (work, home, etc.) so why bundle??? my pricing guess is $69 for the touchstone, $29 for the inductive back.
2. the touchstone should be able to conceivably work in the car. not sure youd want to though.
3. you say "Palm's new WebOS is entirely "cloud"-based". i'm not yet convinced that this is the case. i do not dismiss local sync capability in addition to cloud.

RE: two things
Gekko @ 1/13/2009 4:15:23 PM # Q

uh three things.

RE: two things
hkklife @ 1/13/2009 4:24:41 PM # Q
My pricing predictions:

-Pre will hit Sprint stores in early June @ $299 w/ contract, $500-$550 full retail. At most there will be a $50 Sprint MIR on top of that $299 price.

-GSM version arriving Oct '09 at the EARLIEST. $500-$600 GSM unlocked price. No AT&T partnership. It will never appear on Verizon and they will quietly euthenize all their remaining Palm devices and continue to rake RIM over the coals over the Storm's underwhelming performance.

-Touchstone $70 w/ replacement battery door included, spares available at Palm.com for $20-$25 a pop.

#2. microUSB car chargers are so cheap, I am sure that'd be sufficient for in-car use. But I could see someone like Brando or Seidio coming up with maybe something that fits in the cupholder and magnetically secure the Pre on to it.

#3. Not to sound like SeldomVisitor, but do you have any reason to say this or prove me otherwise? No offense, but I think Palm couldn't be bothered with those of us who don't trust the cloud. The stylus is dead, the 5-way nav pad is dead, removable storage is dead, Hotsync is dead, Graffiti ha been dead and the past 13 years of Palm OS is about to be dead.

Other than the branding, the "smile" keyboard and the ring/mute switch, nothing connects the Pre to any previous Palm device.

IMO, Palm are betting the farm on jumpstarting a paradigm shift in not only their devices but mobile information access in general. I think Rubinstein & co are hoping to do something along the lines of when Apple turned the PC (and Mac) industry on its ear with the iMac (no more legacy ports, attention to aesthetics, all USB etc).

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->?

RE: two things
Gekko @ 1/13/2009 4:29:24 PM # Q

re #3, no offense taken. but im not sure either way - it may be cloud or nothing with no hot sync but your article implies that's definitively what it is. all im saying is we dont know yet.

wow - youre pretty pessimistic on palm with verizon. if your prediction holds true, youll be ass out given that youre with vzw?

RE: two things
cgk @ 1/13/2009 5:20:20 PM # Q
How should we take this then?

""There's no metaphor of sync, save, push—there's no button," Crowley [Pre Product line manager] said.

"The company has totally ditched the idea that you will use this phone in conjunction with a specific "main PC" that contains the canonical, authoritative repository of your data. Instead, webOS draws seamlessly on a variety of data services—not data repositories, but cloud-based services that actively feed the device both data and critical context."


http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20090111-of-clouds-palms-webos-and-cutting-the-cord.html


Reply to this comment

lots of other inductive chargers

hotpaw4 @ 1/13/2009 4:19:58 PM # Q
So how it this different from my electric toothbrush, which has had an inductive charger for I forget how long?

.

RE: lots of other inductive chargers
Gekko @ 1/13/2009 4:24:43 PM # Q

i had a few cell phone and palm cradles years ago that weren't too far off. drop and go from the cradle via the tiny contacts. what's the big difference between tiny metal contacts and the magnetic connection? and is that palm logo on the back in fact a metal contact??? ive seen these in the past where it was a pad a little bigger than a mouse pad and you could lay multiple devices of all kinds on the pad and they'd charge. this touchstone is a glorified cradle IMO. better not premium price it, ruby.

RE: lots of other inductive chargers
hotpaw4 @ 1/13/2009 4:55:31 PM # Q
Metal contacts? Huge difference! Contacts corrode. Try living near the ocean if you want to see how bad this can get.

.

RE: lots of other inductive chargers
mikecane @ 1/13/2009 5:11:48 PM # Q
>>>ive seen these in the past where it was a pad a little bigger than a mouse pad and you could lay multiple devices of all kinds on the pad and they'd charge.

And the gadgets required *special backs* to do it. What, you really thought you could drop something on it and the electrons would just jump through quantum hoops into the device's battery?

RE: lots of other inductive chargers
freakout @ 1/14/2009 12:04:32 AM # Q
Metal contacts? Huge difference! Contacts corrode. Try living near the ocean if you want to see how bad this can get.

Damn straight. Every Palm device with Athena that I've owned has eventually corroded and been very difficult to sync via cable.

The Touchstone looks damn cool. Hope it's not too expensive.

RE: lots of other inductive chargers
DrewT3 @ 1/14/2009 6:50:02 AM # Q
It is cool. I wonder if it supplies enough power to keep the Pre charged while playing MP3s through Bluetooth?

RE: lots of other inductive chargers
joad @ 1/14/2009 11:13:42 AM # Q
>Metal contacts? Huge difference! Contacts corrode. Try living near the ocean if you want to see how bad this can get.

If your cables are seriously corroding, I'd imagine the metal INSIDE your electronics aren't looking very good either. I'm not far from the ocean myself, and the phone has always needed to be replaced before any cable problems appeared.

RE: lots of other inductive chargers
AdamaDBrown @ 1/14/2009 11:46:01 AM # Q
DrewT3, Bluetooth isn't a huge power draw, so I'd assume the answer to be yes.

RE: lots of other inductive chargers
hkklife @ 1/14/2009 11:49:24 AM # Q
Yes, I'd certainly think so, as talking on the Pre via BT headset while it's docked on the Touchstone was specifically referenced as a potential usage scenario last week.

Thought I generally try to avoid talking too much on my devices while they are charging due to the heat factor/stress on the battery.



Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->?

Reply to this comment

Charging spare batteries?

phaedrus @ 1/14/2009 5:22:13 AM # Q
Palm (rightly!) made a big deal out of the fact that you could take the back off the pre to swap the battery. I'm wondering if there's any provision for charging multiple batteries?

The cradle for my 755p has a spot to keep a second battery charged up. Will there be some kind of holder for the Touchstone to allow inductive charging of a spare battery? Or one that can plug into the microUSB cable?

Reply to this comment
Start a New Comment Thread Top

Account

Register Register | Login Log in
user:
pass: