Accessories Review: Palm Leather Side Case and Touchstone Charger

Here’s a quick review of the two accessories I impulse-purchased with my Pre. Starting with the least interesting:

1. Leather Side Case: Palm’s first of two leather cases for the Pre is pretty standard stuff. It’s of decent quality, with a tight fit and a lining that theoretically wipes the screen as the Pre is inserted and removed. The case has a strap for aiding in extracting the Pre, which is only a little difficult to manage, a reasonably secure belt clip, and a less reasonable $39.99 retail price. More economical cases will certainly be released in short order, and so that’s all I have to say about that.

Rating: 7/10. Recommendation: Buy (for now, until better alternatives are available)

2. Touchstone: A much more interesting accessory is the Touchstone, an inductive charger for the Pre that doubles as a handy docking station (of sorts). The Touchstone is a first in the smartphone world, having been introduced to consumers years ago in the ultra-high-tech electronic toothbrush industry. At first glance, the Touchstone’s a rather gimmicky device created for the sole purpose of giving Palm something else on which to hang the “revolutionary” adjective. In actual use, however, it’s surprisingly convenient, not only providing a quick and easy method for charging the Pre, but also holding it at a usable angle in both portrait and landscape modes. The Touchstone’s great for watching video, and the Pre can charge with the keyboard extended, thus making it fully usable while charging.

The Touchstone comes with a replacement battery cover containing the magnet that firmly holds the Pre in place, as well as the circuitry for performing the magic of inductive charging. This cover is also a fingerprint-resistive matte, as compared to the very glossy fingerprint-magnet-cum-standard-cover, giving the Pre a more elegant, subdued look (from the back, at least) while providing a better grip. The Touchstone can be purchased in a number of configurations ranging from $49.99 for the Touchstone itself to $139.99 for the “Dual Location Charging Kit” that includes two Touchstones, an extra AC adapter, a Touchstone battery cover, and a microUSB cable. Note that the Touchstone must be connected to the AC adapter, which is not included with the two entry-level Touchstone configurations, as opposed to a PC’s USB port. If you want to use a second Touchstone in another location, you’ll need a second AC adapter ($39.99).

The Touchstone’s certainly not perfect, and for some folks might represent an unnecessary and relatively expensive luxury. Indeed, there are a few key gripes. For example, be careful when attaching the Pre. The magnets must be lined up correctly or the Pre slides off, succumbing to the deleterious effects of gravity. In addition, a chime sounds each time the Pre is correctly attached and charging, which quickly becomes annoying. There’s no way to turn off the notification short of toggling the ringer switch, which I imagine has a lifespan of something less than an infinite number of toggles.

If you have a spare $69.99 for the basic kit with battery cover, I recommend the Touchstone wholeheartedly. At the very least, it beats struggling as often with the Pre’s obnoxious USB cover.

Rating: 8/10. Recommendation: Buy.

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