Brighthand Staff’s Predictions for the Palm “Hawk”

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For about two years now, Jeff Hawkins, one of Palm’s founders, has been talking about his company’s plans to create a third product category that’s neither a handheld nor a smartphone. However, he’s never been willing to say very much about this.

Even this device’s code-name isn’t known, so most people generally refer to it as the Hawk.

Jeff Hawkins has promised to reveal more details on this device next week, but Brighthand‘s editors, writers, and moderators are sharing their predictions of what it will be now.

Brian Beeler — General Manager, Technology Guide

Since the traditional PDA market has been migrating to smartphones and other larger format mobile devices, I suspect Palm will want to participate in that migration by unveiling a smaller than UMPC-style device.

The thing that I keep kicking around in my head is a revival of the Sony UX50. That was my favorite PDA of all time, even with its shortcomings. Fast forward four years. Hardware is faster and storage capacities are higher and the interest in the design concept behind the UX50 is stronger than ever. Add in a larger screen (4 or 5 inches), an 8 GB hard drive, SD card slot, and dual wireless (Wi-Fi and cellular) and I think you have a winner as long as it works well and has a nice keyboard.

I’d expect to see Windows Mobile 6 on such a device with a price tag of $650. 

Ed Hardy — Editor-in-Chief

Jeff Hawkins has made it clear this device won’t be a traditional handheld or smartphone, so I predict that the Hawk will be a mini laptop with all that implies: clamshell shape, full keyboard, and a large, high-resolution screen.

I expect it to run Palm’s new Linux-based operating system. I’m hoping for an internal hard drive with at least 20 GB of storage, but I’m not really expecting that. It will probably have a couple of gigabytes of Flash memory and an SD card slot.

I’m guessing the Hawk will offer multiple kinds of wireless networking, including 3G cellular-wireless, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. It will designed with the idea of always being connected to the Internet, and will include services that take advantage of that, like push email, streaming audio and video, and automatic wireless backup.

I predict that Hawk will cost at least $700, but that seems reasonable, as it will function as a laptop replacement. I’m going to go way out on a limb here and predict this device will debut this summer, in time for it to go off to school with students this fall.

Antoine Wright — Staff Writer

I like Foleo better than Hawk as a name

Given Palm’s recent software offerings as being based on end-user service, I am expecting a device and service that takes MyPalm, the Palm Backup service, and HotSync to a hybrid web tablet device that reminds many of a functional cross between a Newton and the Treo 6xx series.

I believe that the Foleo/Hawk will be a paradigm shift because it will be on the surface the familiar Garnet OS, but beginning to introduce some of the computing concepts that Numeta has been working on. A touchscreen interface with an emphasis on place (location) and timing (time of day) that adapts only on visible and non-intimidating levels seems about Palm’s mode. I do see a considerable upgrade in how PIM information is handled, even though there will be backward compatibility with the current Garnet OS devices. But with the new OS and newer APIs, I see possibilities of more than just static information playing a part.

In terms of specific hardware components, the device will be a little bit smaller than the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet, with a similar emphasis on ease of wireless connectivity and relating to information. A removable battery is possible, but I can see a non-removable one being a part of the order. It would be nice to see OLED or eInk, but for cost effectiveness, a high DPI (not resolution) TFT would be used. From the software end I expect the enhanced version of the Opera web browser that would (by the use of widgets) interact with other aspects of the device such as the PIM applications).

Due to previous hints, I am expecting a leak of this device in July and release in October a week or two before the end of the month, and clearly ahead of any new Treo offerings. I can also see Palm dropping of the Tungsten E2 handheld and the TX dropping in price, as this device will have to debut in the $350-400 range for it to gain enough consumer interest to be the paradigm shift that it’s slated to be.

I expect some carrier support of this device from Sprint, T-Mobile or both pushing both the possible voice applications along with broadband connectivity. Though, outside of T-Mobile, I do not see subsidies on the device, but rather a pushing of wireless anywhere to be the cost.

Alan Grassia — Forum Moderator

I believe that the Hawk will be a tablet-style device that will resemble a cross between Palm’s TX and LifeDrive handhelds.  This device will come with some of what you would expect in a Palm device: the standard PIM applications, Documents To Go, Exchange ActiveSync, and VersaMail; all old favorites of Palm’s devices.

The Hawk, I suspect, will have new applications and capabilities that we haven’t seen before in a Palm device.  At the heart of the Hawk, I predict, will be Palm’s next generation Linux-based operating system that I have been referring to as “Palm OS II”.  A Linux-based kernel will open the Hawk up to many future enhancements; things that are just not possible with today’s Palm OS 5 devices. 

I also expect to see the Hawk loaded with connectivity options including IR, Bluetooth 2.0, 802.11g Wi-Fi, a GPS receiver, and a cellular radio.   This device will be about connectivity and having a cellular and Wi-Fi radio built-in to the device will ensure that Palm’s customers will have a choice of data connection options.  It will be up to the customer to decide how they will connect to the Internet.  

The “killer app” that will be the Hawk’s claim to fame will be Location Based Services (LBS).  Think of the possibilities of a connected device that can tie together your current location with one from your Contacts database and then providing directions to that location.  Think about the social networking aspects.  Think about what might be possible if an easy to use platform existed for bringing together the advanced features of LBS with the ease of use that Palm can provide. 

Regardless of what Palm has in store for us, the Hawk is going to be impressive.  I for one can’t wait to get my hands on one.

BAB2000 — Forum Moderator

Jeff Hawkins has previously demonstrated that any product to be accepted must be usable, must be portable and must be functional to a way that is logical in much the human mind requires information.

The Hawk will compliment this philosophy, it will be small, book size, 5 inches by 7 inches or smaller, it will communicate to the world with a wireless broadband subscription service, and will place the Internet in your hand as well as your personal PIM type information, emulating a PDA device we are already accustomed to.

Built with a virtual Stylus/Thumboard combo input area, including a new operating system that is Win-Mobile and Palm compatible, the Hawk will become ultimate portable communication-organizer device, including multimedia function to permit the user to be informed and in control of their time, all in a package for under $500, plus the monthly service subscription.

Dick Tracy – Forum Moderator

This is a device for the data-hungry and/or media consumers; it is not initially intended for voice communicators.

Not entirely certain of form-factor; am inclined to think it will be a mini-tablet/UMPC but not as large. 4 GB (or more betting on less due to Palm’s incremental moves) flash memory available to user. It might fold and could have more than one screen. Input will not be Graffiti. If keyboard it likely will slide.

No voice telephony, perhaps voice commands. Wi-Fi and a cellular data radio will be included unless Sprint’s WiMax roll out has progressed sufficiently to include WiMax instead of the cellular radio. This could lead to slightly different versions on a per-carrier basis

Palm OS II. Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP. GPS.

UI will be new, Merceresque; elegant but simple; complexity on the back end. Updated PIMs that might mashup on server. Mashups can become widgets rather than bookmarks. Entirely new search and file manager functionality, both local and remote.

Server-based applications are integral as are Location Based Services. Will utilize MyPalm.com for sync and updates (unless the beta tanks). Additional sync functionality to Yahoo and Google PIMs.

Streaming multimedia. (Each existing application in multimedia has weaknesses thus I cannot say which apps will be included amongst PocketTunes, Kinoma and TCPMP). GoogleMaps (with some extras), Opera, Chatteremail’s successor and a new IM app will be included. Docs to Go v.11 with OTA sync (no desktop app).

More Palm Certified third-party applications will be available at MyPalm and will run on a Garnet emulator. Other Garnet-compatible third-party applications installed locally via HotSync 7 or OTA download from developer. Additional server-based applications (VoIP for one) will be rolled out.

Possible, but not likely, in Hawk1 (anticipating early-mid Q4 07 launch) are USB Host, VPN. It would be nice if it included Visa/Mastercard payments, whether installed app and chip or SDIO solution.

holvoetn – Forum Moderator

Looking at the various posts concerning the Hawk (let’s keep that name for now for simplicity sake), I have some ideas about what it might be and what it will probably not be. Knowing this is announced as a revolutionary device but also knowing this is ‘Palm’ we are talking about, I do not expect this to be a clamshell phone because that would require too many new technologies at once. I do not expect it to be a smartphone either since that would not be revolutionary enough.

I do expect however that it will be a clamshell PDA, with a touchscreen on both sides of the upper lid so it can be used in both opened and closed status. The lower lid will host a full QWERTY keyboard next to the traditional hard keys (which are repeated on the upper lid for ‘closed’ usage).

Obviously this device will have Wi-Fi access, maybe already WiMax.

I expect it to have Flash based memory, at least 16 GB or so, and expandable using SDHC compatible SD cards. This would make this device quite suitable as a multimedia utility, a perfect successor for the LifeDrive. Battery life should be around 8hrs minimum for serious multimedia usage.

As far as the OS is concerned I was initially inclined to think it might still use Garnet (Palm OS 5), but I really believe the configuration described above would be a perfect candidate to start using a Linux based OS so I am daring to suggest Palm OS II (TM Alan G) will be already present on this device.

This device might be released somewhere around late August, right in time for all those students to pick it up when school starts again.

Joshua Campbell a.k.a Masterchief – Forum Moderator

There has been much speculation on the new Palm product. What will it really be? I for one am a bit scared to speculate.

I do believe it will be a Smartphone device that is perhaps as thin as the iPhone and maybe even similar in appearance. Feature wise I know what we want, but the question is will Palm actually do it this time?

We all want Wi-Fi in the next Palm smart device (I hope a Palm exec. is reading this!), and also a long lasting battery similar to that of the Treo 755p.

I believe Palm will finally be releasing the Linux based operating system with this device. I believe that this new OS is the reason they are keeping the "Hawk" so hush-hush.

I will venture to say that Palm may release this device sometime in the fall of this year, at a price that will no doubt make us cringe.

What Little We Know for Sure

When asked for details on this mysterious product category during a 2005 interview with the Portland Business Journal, all Hawkins would say was:

I always think of mobile computing as personal computing. This long-term vision has led us through everything — first the organizers and now through the smart phone space. It’s like everything a personal computer is. Continue down that path. What are the implications of a world where everyone has a super high-speed Internet connection in their pocket and many gigabytes of storage, super-fast processors, audio, visual and multimedia? What are the consequences of that? How will that change computing when you have all that stuff available to you all the time? I try to think into the future. That’s how we come up with new products. So I’m not going to tell you what it is, but it’s following the consequences of mobile computing.

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