Palm is working on a palmtop with detachable cellphone

This winter/fall Palm has been in some dire straights. With hugely disappointing Palm Pre sales, dwindling cash reserves and knowledge that company won’t be able to survive on it’s own.

Still, Palm R&D department  hasn’t been sitting on it’s hands even during the tough times. And they’ve come up with some interesting ideas of how to improve our palm computing/communication experiences.

Here’s one of them – compact removable voice handset, integrated into a palmtop computer. It’s described in a fairly recent Palm patent application, filed at the end of April, this year.

And, looking at the  patent app, I wonder why nobody has made such a thing yet.

As the touchscreen displays get bigger and bigger, our smartphones become ever harder to use for their basic – cellphone – function. Just look at Dell Streak. It’s a great portable web browsing, e-mail, online communication device and media player. But I shudder only thinking about using it as a phone,  and putting this slab of a device to my ear for a 10-15 minute conversation.

It gets even worse for  7″ or 10″ tablets, that are just around the corner. Even though most of them can have all the necessary 3G circuitry  to make phone calls, the form factor makes this activity hugely impractical.

Now Palm has designed an extremely elegant solution – adding a small, removable, voice only handset to the body of a palmtop device. When separated, phone and main body parts are coupled via Bluetooth. All the “smarts and  brains” remain in the main body, detachable handset is used only for voice comms. As the call comes in, you pull the cellphone part from the main body and start talking. After the call, you pop the cellphone part back in. All other functions – like contact management, dialing, etc; remain with the main palmtop body.

This mode of operation may even better then on traditional smartphone – if you need to take some notes, enter or look-up contact info, arrange a conference call – you can do that without any interruption, while talking on the phone.

It’s just a patent application for now, and may never become an actual product – most of patented things don’t. But I really like this idea and hope someone implements it soon.

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • Eina84

    Maybe because they all want you to have a display with a sim card (and account) and a phone with a sim card (and account)?

    I have a Garmin gps on the dashboard of my car. It is connected to my cellphone in my pocket by bluetooth so I can use it as a hands-free – if my car stereo doesn't beat it to the punch as it also has the same capability.

    Why can't the gps use that same bluetooth connection & my cellphone data package to make updates to the maps on the fly? Why can't it get traffic information and speed camera information on the fly? No, I have to buy another gps with a cellphone built in.

  • Tony Tran

    It should be good when HP buy Palm.