Palm’s Ingenuity Extends to Pre Accessories

When the Palm Pre was announced, one Pre accessory that was front and center during all the demonstrations was the Touchstone charging dock. By all accounts, the Touchstone is a unique accessory removing the need to physically plug-in your phone in order to charge it. While we continue to wait for a Palm Pre release date and pricing, the same is true of the Touchstone charing dock. Palm has four Pre accessories listed on their website, with the Touchstone being the most intriguing. What are some of the advantages of the Touchstone charing dock and why might it be the first "must have" Pre accessory.


Thinking Different About Accessories

Manufacturers spend most of their research on hardware and software. Rightfully so, those have a defining impact on whether or not a product will be sucessful. Dating back to last year, Palm has put a renewed effort into the design of the accessories that accompany their smartphones. It started with the new microUSB cables. I own well over 15 smartphones dating back to 2003. Outside of the iPhone, they all came with non-descript black sync cables. None of which include any markings to allow the end user to know immediately "which way is up". A simple, but useful detail that has consistently been lost in the mix. The new Palm cables have a circular silver area on the top of their new sync & charge cables. Not only is this shaped for your thumb, but also allows you to quickly connect your device. It’s a shining example of Palm’s "no detail is too small" mantra.

Enter the Touchstone. For years, charging mobile devices requires some type of hard connection, be it a charging dock or inserting a USB charging cable of some sort. With the Palm touchstone, this all changes. Drop your keys and place the Pre on the touchstone to start charging. The Palm Pre when paired with the Touchstone, will charge the Pre battery through electromagnetic induction. For this to work, both devices need to support inductive charging. The Palm Pre is the first and only mobile phone to date to offer support for inductive charging. It’s a safe bet that future webOS devices will also support inductive charging and the Touchstone.

Idea Behind Touchstone, A Toothbrush?

The idea of inductive charging came from a toothbrush. Given the environment of an electric toothbrush, manufacturers looked at designs where metal contacts weren’t needed. Palm applied this same principle to the Touchstone. Of course environment won’t be a concern, but this accessory was made with convenience in mind.

Using the Touchstone

The first advantage of the Touchstone will be the ability to quickly and easily charge your device. The Touchstone is an obvious improvement over a standard cable connection, but it’s also a vast improvement over a charging dock. With a charging dock, you are limited to charging your device in "portrait mode". With an advanced device such as the Pre, the benefits of charging in a landscape position are far reaching. You can watch movies, stream Sprint TV (and hopefully SlingPlayer for webOS) and view other webOS apps that support landscape view.

New Technology Has A Price

Most everyone I’ve talked to is impressed with the Touchstone. It will be sold as an accessory to the Pre and will not be included in the box. It’s a nice combination of useful features and new technology. Palm has yet to provide a price for the Touchstone charger, but expect it will be price above phone docks which are around $30. If priced competitively, the Touchstone could be the first must have Pre accessory.

Are you planning on picking up the Touchstone accessory for your Pre? Let us know either in the comments or in our survey.

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