I’ve just been reading a few notes on the web about Palm’s new Foleo “Mobile Companion”. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a mini-laptop type thing that’s intended to work with Palm’s Treosmartphone. But under the hood it’s really a mini-laptop that has wifi and Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port and SD slot for expansion. And it runs Linux with an Opera browser. The price is also pretty reasonable at $600 US and that’s with a 10″ screen and full size keyboard, although there’s no function keys.

So, I’m not promoting the product. Yes, I know people from Palm who are contributing to Eclipse and the CDT, which I’m sure they’re using in conjunction with this product. But I think it could the be the start of a trend. Everyone loves smartphones and getting their mail in Blackberry’s and such, but the size of the screen and keyboard on these devices really limits their usefulness beyond their mobility. People still need laptops to do their real work.

But I think there’s room in the mobility market for devices like this one. The embedded system-on-a-chips are there now to do it. And I think you’ll even see games on these things with the 3d capabilities of these chips. With solid state memory like SD cards getting bigger and cheaper, these could be really useful little machines. Palm was first and it fits their niche, but I wonder if anyone else will take the plunge and make a more generally useful “mini-laptop.”