My teenage daughter has been bugging me for months now to get her a laptop or PDA so she could use it for her school work. I guess I waited a bit too long to get her one before school got out since she has less than two weeks to go before summer vacation. I decided that the laptop was going to be way too expensive for us to spend, so I started looking at PDAs.
She first got the idea when I received my HP iPAQ hx4700 as a gift from Epinions and she figured that she would ask for one like that one. So I started researching my options and I decided that I would get her a new one and keep mine for myself. Fortunately, that was the cheaper route since I really liked the HP iPAQ hx4700.
The PDA I decided on for her was the PalmOne LifeDrive, which they actually classify it as a mobile manager (I will get into that a bit later). It turned out to be a really good investment because the LifeDrive combined many features that my daughter would use into one compact unit.
I thought about keeping the LifeDrive for myself and give my HP iPAQ to my daughter, but I am partial to the Windows Mobile OS and I didnt want to give up the ease of syncing with my desktop applications at work. I have used the Palm OS before and I am not particularly fond of it in the first place and since discovering the Windows Mobile OS I wont go back.
The PalmOne LifeDrive Mobile Manager is a unique handheld device created by PalmOne to be the next generation of PDA. It combined all of the functionality of a PDA and added to it the multimedia capability of a portable MP3 , photo and video player all in one compact unit. With its built-in WiFi and Bluetooth adapters you have a variety of options when it comes to wireless connectivity. All this is centered around the built-in 4GB hard drive that gives you plenty of space to store your favorite songs, photos and video clips.
The PalmOne LifeDrive
Display:The display on the LifeDrive is one of the best I have seen on any Palm OS device and it makes the video playback and photo presentation really pleasing to the eye. The 320 x 480 resolution Transreflective touchscreen renders pictures and video fairly well, but nothing earth shattering. It doesnt come close to the screen on my HP iPAQ hx4700 which has a 480 x600 resolution screen. The screen is very bright for low light conditions and it is adjustable with a couple of taps of the stylus to turn down the brightness to save on battery power.
Size:If you are looking for a small compact PDA you might want to look somewhere else because the LifeDrive is bigger and thicker that any other of the Palm handheld devices. This is due in part because of the built-in 4 GB hard drive. The overall dimensions of the LifeDrive is 4.76 x 2.87 x .74 and it weighs in at 6.6 oz.
Power:Palm packed plenty of punch into this device and it starts with the 416MHz Intel Xscale processor and it ends with the 4 GB hard drive. The combination of the two makes all the difference in the world and it sets the LifeDrive apart from all the rest on the market.
ConnectivityWith its built-in WiFi and Bluetooth adapters you can stay connected when you are away from your desk. A really cool thing about the WiFi if you happen to walk into one of the thousands of wireless hotspots setup throughout the United States you can surf the web while you are drinking a cup of coffee. The Bluetooth adapter also gives you wireless capability (limited range) giving you the ability to connect to a Bluetooth enabled cell phone or the new wireless head phones to listen to your favorite songs. Palm also included an IR (Infrared Port) which allows you to beam data between two devices with IR ports or to a IR enabled printer. Palm included a synchronizing port and cable to connect the LifeDrive to your desktop PC to transfer files and sync your email on your desktop with your LifeDrive so you can take your email with you. I wished that Palm would have included a cradle to put the LifeDrive into to sync and recharge the battery just like my HP iPAQ hx4700. With the cradle all you need to do is pop the LifeDrive into the cradle instead of have to plug in two cords to sync and charge the Lithium-ion battery.
Function buttons galore :Along with the touch screen, Palm included several buttons on the LifeDrive to activate some of the functions. These buttons include four quick launch buttons that opens the home screen, file menu, favorite application(programmable), media. Along with the quick launch buttons there is the 5-way navigation button that helps you move around within the programs.
There is a button on the side that activates the voice recorder for making personal notes or even for recording a meeting so you can take notes later. Another pretty cool feature of the LifeDrive is the ability of you to switch the display from portrait (vertical) to Landscape (horizontal) to make viewing spreadsheets or videos easier to look at, by just pushing a single button.
This is probably the most disappointing part of the whole device and yet it really isnt the fault of PalmOne other than the fact that they decided to put all of the power zapping features into one unit. Until the battery makers find a way to increase the length of time a battery can last in a portable device it will always be a limitation. Unless you are always by an outlet where you keep the AC adapter plugged in you will need to keep recharging the battery pack.
As I said PalmOne packed several power zapping features into the LifeDrive; hard drive, backlight and wireless (WiFi) adapter. Unfortunately these features are the big selling point for this device and without them this is just another PDA. If you plan to use the video playback function of the LifeDrive I would definitely recommend you plug the AC adapter into the unit so you dont lose battery power in the middle of the video.
OS and software
PalmOne preloaded the LifeDrive with the latest version of its Palm OS (5.4) and also included a whole slew of software to make all of the features work. The media features (video and audio) are handled with Windows Media Player and Pocket Tunes. Palm boasts the ability of all of their Palm brand PDAs to view and edit Windows Office documents like Excel, Word and PowerPoint presentations and this is done using a program called Documents to Go. I have not been thrilled with this software package and I definitely prefer the Windows Mobile (PocketPC) OS that has versions of Excel and Word which allows you to create and edit actual Office documents from scratch.
Even though the LifeDrive has a very large storage capacity thanks to the 4GB hard drive Palm included a expansion slot that excepts SD, SDIO and SmartMedia cards. This makes it easy to upload pictures directly from a camera if your camera uses the SD type memory cards. This also will allow you to load programs that are available for the Palm OS that come preloaded on this type of media. Just be sure that you purchase the right version if you do purchase preloaded software.
My Final Thoughts
When I first read about the Palm Lifedrive a while ago I wasnt sure that it was going to be a viable product. I was thinking that it might just be a gimmick created by Palm that wouldnt really sell. Well after taking the time to research it and trying out the device I changed my opinion of the LifeDrive.
I am a bit concerned about the battery usage and because of that it will be necessary to carry around the AC power adapter. Fortunately, the backlighting is adjustable and that will help save battery power and not running the wireless adapter unless it necessary will help conserve power. I decided to try to see how long I would be able to run with just the WiFi adapter running and it
It may sound like I am being negative about the LifeDrive, but I would still recommend it to those people that are current fans of the Palm OS and are just looking to upgrade to a better overall device. I would still have to lower my rating down to 4 out of 5 stars because of the battery consumption. I think Palm should have taken that into consideration when they developed this device.
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Amount Paid (US$): 399.00
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