Wires are slowly becoming a thing of the past, with many gadgets finding ways and means of communicating minus trailing wires. First with infrared and then Bluetooth for connectivity, a lot of devices lost the need for wires entirely. Mobile phone users can connect headsets and speakers without unsightly black wires. Wi-Fi revolutionized the concept of anywhere computing, making connector cables obsolete.
However, charging a device wirelessly has been somewhat of a bigger challenge, as there have been no consumer devices that can be charged minus their physical wires. While the Palm Pre Touchstone Inductive Charging Dock does still rely somewhat on contact, at least there are no wires.
The Palm Pre Touchstone could be mistaken for a paperweight; not a particularly decorative one, but still sleek and stylish. It resembles the top of a cylinder that has been cut off obliquely, presenting a round surface that is tilted. It is unmistakeably a Palm product, since it has the logo emblazoned across the front. The aesthetics are nice and very unobtrusive, and will surely blend into a gadget-filled work surface seamlessly.
The charging dock requires a special back cover for the phone that is magnetized and not slippery. The idea is to be able to drop the phone lightly onto the dock, and special magnets will align the phone correctly for charging. The charging dock is meant to be placed on the desk, so it doubles up as a stand for the phone, tilting it at the right angle for optimum visibility. The base of the dock is equipped with non-slip material, making sure the dock doesn’t slide around the desk, and stays put when the phone is removed.
The charging dock is as good as the wall charger, as the company website claims it takes the same amount of time to charge the phone’s batteries. However, the website rather ambiguously states that the wall charger is still necessary, presumably to connect the Touchstone to the power outlet.
When calls are in progress and the phone is placed on the dock, the call mode automatically changes to loudspeaker. Additionally, if the phone rings whilst on the charging dock, lifting the phone off it will activate the call.
The charging dock will be retailing at a rather high price of $69.99. The special back cover for the device will also be sold separately, so an average user can reasonably expect to pay more. Whether or not a cool charging gadget is worth such a steep price is really an individual’s decision, because however many extras the dock features, it still remains mainly a fancy charging device.
The Palm Pre has not released as yet, although accessories are starting to make an appearance.
An interesting slip made by a marketing manager at Palm, perhaps deliberately, indicated that Touchstone may not just refer to the charging dock. Touchstone will probably be a brand name used by Palm to launch an entire product line of inductive items. At the moment, there is no other news apart from the charging dock, however there is promise of much more to come.
Check out the Palm Pre Touchstone charging dock here.