by Al Sacco

Palm Pre Touchstone Wireless Charger: (Almost) Everything You Need to Know

Jan 15, 20093 mins
Data Center

Palm last week unveiled its latest mobile operating system, Palm webOS, along with the Pre, a brand new full QWERTY, slider device that runs the new software. But that’s not all the handset maker had up its sleeve at CES 2009: the company also showed off an interesting new wireless power dock for the Pre, called the Touchstone, which sits on your desktop and cradles/charges your device, among other duties. Here’s everything you need to know about the Touchstone–except for specific pricing and release information, which the company has not yet released.

Palm CEO Ed Colligan at CES with the Touchstone
Palm CEO Ed Colligan at CES with the Touchstone

The round Touchstone is smaller than you might imagine; it’s about the diameter of a 12-ounce can of soda and it stands less than two inches tall at its highest point. The top surface of the Touchstone is slanted downward toward you, to better position the device for use while charging, thus its height varies.

There’s also non-slip material on the bottom of the dock, according to Palm, to help ensure that the Touchstone-and your Pre-stay put. (A series of strong magnets in both the Touchstone itself and the corresponding battery cover work to keep the device sturdily in place while charging.) The Touchstone is meant to be employed while the Pre’s in use, so you can do tasks like check calendar entries, place calls via speaker phone and watch videos in both portrait and landscape mode, all while the Pre’s charging.

From what I could tell from my Pre demo at Palm’s VIP event at CES, there’s a microUSB port on the Touchstone, which is used to connect to a charging cable. I don’t expect the wireless charging dock to come with its own charging cord, so you’ll very likely need to employ the one that comes with the Pre-or any other compatible microUSB cable.

Unfortunately, Pre owners will also need to purchase a separate back cover if they want to charge their devices via Touchstone, though no pricing details for that cover are available. It seems strange to me that Palm would sell these accessories separately, as they clearly go together. But if I had to make a price estimate, I guess the Touchstone will sell for about $60 or $70, while the cover should come in around $30, making the total package cost roughly $100. (Palm representatives suggested that the Touchstone-specific Pre back cover might ship with the charging dock, despite information to the contrary on the company’s website.)

Hands-On With the Palm Touchstone at CES
Hands-On With the Palm Touchstone at CES

One downside to the Touchstone and its inductive charging process: it takes approximately four hours to fully charge a dead Pre, according to Palm. That’s roughly double the time it takes to charge a BlackBerry or other comparable smartphone via traditional charging cords and electrical outlets.

The Touchstone is also strictly a power supply unit, and it cannot be used to sync data between the Pre and a computer, as is the case with some other comparable charging docks.

Wireless charging isn’t exactly new; however, most existing cord-free power solutions involve some sort of bulky charging “mat” or “pad” that sits on a desktop while charging various devices. I must say, Palm’s Touchstone is the

most compact and aesthetically appealing wireless charging solution I’ve seen.

Folks anxious to get their thumbs on the Pre should also know that the Touchstone wireless charging dock is currently only one of three official Palm Pre accessories listed on the company’s website. There’s also a leather case for the device, called the Palm Pre Slip Case, and a vehicle power adapter for charging while on the go.