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Palm's Pre Touchstone: Clever, But Overpriced

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on June 4, 2009

touchstone.jpgThere aren’t a whole lot of accessories announced yet for the Palm Pre, but the Touchstone charger dock sure is an interesting one. Unfortunately, at $70—a third of the price of the phone itself—it’s a somewhat painful purchase.

Touchstone is an induction charger, like the sort used with electric shavers and toothbrushes, that uses magnetic coupling instead of a direct electrical connection. It's a little cylinder with a "micro suction" base that clings to a desktop and an oblique top surface. To use it, you replace the standard Pre battery cover with a new one that includes the induction circuitry and have a nice rubberized surface instead of the slick one on the stock Pre back. Once the new back is in place, a magnet holds to Pre in place on the touchstone and allows it to charge without connecting any cables to the phone. It also automatically puts the Pre into speakerphone mode when a call comes in.

At $70, a price that has to include a lot of margin, you'd think that Palm might have made the Touchstone a complete charger, but it isn't. To use it, You have to take the wall-wart transformer--itself a cute little cylinder--and micro USB charging cable that came with the Pre to connect Touchstone to AC power.

If you want to leave Touchstone rigged up on your desk and keep a second charger in your briefcase, you'll have to buy a second charger. Except that Palm doesn't offer one yet (an auto charger is available for $30). Fortunately, despite dire warnings in the documentation about using anything but an official Palm charger with the Pre, I found it worked fine with any 5 volt micro USB charger, such as the one supplied with the Amazon Kindle 2.

Reader Comments


June 4, 2009 4:20 PM

This one is so nice and I wanted to have it but I think I have to wait until they will lower the price. 


June 8, 2009 2:19 AM

The Sprint rep at the store warned me that using any of the micro USB chargers other than ones specifically made for the Pre have been known to degrade the battery of the Pre pretty quickly.

I am betting that is why they told you in the documentation to not use anything but a official Palm charger for the Pre.


June 12, 2009 12:18 PM

Sprint Reps are parrots that repeat what the spin-doctors tell them. Micro USB charging is standardized, and 17 phone manufacturers have agreed to use it in the same way.

Right now, Sprint is looking for any excuse to blame the poor battery life of the Pre on, rather than bad software management that is really the issue.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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