Palm Touchstone Kit ReviewBy: Ryan Kairer
June 5, 2009
The Palm Touchstone is a charging dock that permits wireless recharging of the Palm Pre via induction technology. It is sold with the Touchstone Charging kit, which also includes the required soft touch back cover replacement. The accessory is available at launch with the Pre for $69.99 online and in stores.
Drastically different in both appearance and functionality and possessing much more pizzazz any of Palm's past accessory releases, the Palm Touchstone is a stunning little device in its own right that deserves a further look for anyone who is traditionally fond of desktop charging cradle solutions.
The main Touchstone dock resembles a hockey puck with a severely sloping front. As a standalone device it is a sleek charger that is sure to evoke a conversation or two.
Touchstone is based on inductive technology. Inductive coils inside the Touchstone charging dock generate a small, oscillating electromagnetic field and transmit it through the matte back cover.
Here is the box that it comes in.
This shows the box contents. It simply includes the Touchstone Dock, the replacement back cover and a small instruction manual.
The Touchstone stays firmly in place on most surfaces via a very strong suction material on the bottom.
Since it does not come with a spare USB cable, you must use the one that comes with the Pre along with the electrical plug.
I have to wonder if Palm deliberately made the microUSB cover harder to remove. I found trying to lift the microUSB cover was also somewhat laborious and a challenge to dislodge. It is just so much easier to just drop the Pre onto your desk to charge.
Since the Pre has no exterior notification lights or charging LED's, the display always remains on when it is charging on the Touchstone. A bummer is that this display simply shows the current time when in standby. It will show some notifications as well but If you want to check the actual charge level you have go through a tedious method. First you have to unlock the device, then tap the battery icon to open the status panel. There should be a large changing icon or something else to let you know the charge status.
Here's a look at the side view. The dock holds and even guides the Pre into position via a strong magnet. It stays firmly in place. Charging time is about the same as via USB, however after a long charging session the back of the Pre can be a little warm, but not dangerously so.
The soft touch back cover is actually much nicer than the default glossy one. It feels a lot better to hold due to its matte finish and does not smudge nearly as much.
In the underside view you can see that there is much more going on the touchstone cover. The gold contact points connect to a receiving set on the back of the Pre below the battery.
Touchstone also features some innovative software integrations. If you place the Pre on the dock during a call it will automatically go to speakerphone mode. The same goes if you answer a call while it's charging or if you pick the Pre up it will auto answer incoming calls without having to tap the screen.
Overall, I would definitely recommend the Touchstone Charging Kit to go along with any Palm Pre purchase. The Touchstone is a very strong complimentary piece from Palm and their industrial design team. The ability to charge wirelessly is simply cool. It all lends itself as a much simpler and totally convenient way to take care of the usually mundane charging process.
Kris Keilhack also contributed portions to this review and you can also read his earlier hands on impressions report.