New LifeDrive in my Hand!!!
Today sees the launch of palmOne’s latest generation of devices with the LifeDrive – it’s first multi-gigabite handheld ‘let’s not call it a PDA’ media and files organizer.
I had the opportunity to play around for a while with the LifeDrive earlier today and there were definitely a number of interesting new features to consider.
To start, as I’ve mentioned before, my main interest in the LifeDrive is to better understand possible future Treo developments. In this respect, all in all there are only four key hardware features that the LifeDrive benefits from that can not currently be found on our Treo 650 (but which many would like to see on it some day).
4GB Microdrive: This is undoubtedly quite a leap for a palmOne device which has until now maxed out at 256MB with the T5 (and a huge leap from our own paltry 32MB on the Treo) but while there are many things to be gained by such a large on-board drive there are also many to be lost. After reading an excellent review at BargainPDA it became obvious that a principal drawback from using a microdrive is the massive drain on battery life.
There’s no way to know for sure without the right data but a microdrive on our Treo might reduce our talk time from the current 6 hours (with 300 hours standby) to only 4 hours or less. Considering that two 2GB SD cards – which would use significantly less battery – can be had for some $300, I personally feel that an on-board microdrive on our Treo would have to be of at least 10 or 20GB to warrant the reduced battery life.
WiFi: Having previously purchased, tested and then quickly sold a Sony Clie TH55 with built-in WiFi, I have to admit that I am having a hard time figuring out what the immediate and obvious uses of it are beyond the ‘nice-to-have’ extra feature. In practical terms I could not personally figure out under what circumstances I would have a use for it but I understand how certain corporate users might need this to access files on their local network. Naturally, again WiFi usage becomes a significant drain on battery.
Large 320x480 Screen: We’ve explored this before and there could indeed one day be a Treo model (with a sliding or folding keyboard for example) that sports a large screen like this. There is no doubt that there is a huge difference having this expanded screen real estate particularly for uses such as web browsing and DocsToGo files as well as movies and ebooks for example.
Processor: Whereas our Treo uses a 312MHz one the LifeDrive benefits from 416MHz. As a test, I inserted the 1GB SD card from my 4MP digital camera in both the Treo and LifeDrive and viewed the pictures (each about 4MB) using the built-in Media application. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the added speed of the 416MHz processor made a massive difference and in this respect I’m definitely keen to see this in my future Treo.
Separately, it has to be said that is one of the best looking PDA’s that palmOne or any other manufacturer for that matter have released in a long time.
Additionally, the LifeDrive also offers some unique software features which hopefully will soon make their way to our Treo as well.
Smart File Management: I only got a very brief tour of this new backup and synchronisation application from palmOne which appears to have been purpose made for the LifeDrive and which allows you to map certain files, folders or entire directories on your PC so that they are always available to you on the go without the need to individually select them each time. Although this application was designed to make use of the LifeDrive’s 4GB, I see no reason why it could/should not be made available as a software update to Treonauts who are using one or more GB SD cards and who would similarly like to benefit from this functionality.
Drive Mode: start the application and press “Turn Drive Mode On” to have the LifeDrive appear as an external drive when attached to your PC via USB. Why don’t we have this as standard for use with SD cards on our Treo instead of having to buy a separate application such as CardExport to do the job?
Camera Companion: one of the neatest software features that I found on the LifeDrive was the ability to insert the SD card from my digital camera and to have an easy option pop-up instantly to either copy all of the files over to the LifeDrive or to simply view them. With this you could theoretically leave the full 4GB free when leaving on holiday and use it as a dedicated portable photo drive of sorts. Naturally, this application would not become available on our Treo until the day that we have our own microdrive.
Overall, to the exception of the seven points above, I really don’t think that we have much to envy the LifeDrive as we already have most everything in our Treo – if the LD had a 20GB drive that would be a different story. Nonetheless, I for one would sure like to see that promised “Treo Family” grow soon as I have a faint recollection that someone at palmOne had said something about this a while back…
LifeDrive Mobile Manager [palmOne Store]
PalmOne LifeDrive Review [BargainPDA]
palmOne Introduces LifeDrive, Its First Mobile Manager Product [palmOne Press Release]
Treonauts keep thinking about what will come next…