LifeDrive from Palm 

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Regular readers will know I am a keen Palm user. This however is a new departure as it is the first Palm device to have a hard disc.

Outwardly this looks only slightly different to most modern Palms in that it is a little thicker. The dimensions are 12x7x2cm and it is quite naturally a little heavier at just over 200 grams. The screen is 8x5.5cm and it has a new style on/off/lock switch on the top that can stop it turning on or off in your pocket.


Battery life seems quite reasonable however moving from one application to another is slow in fact you could almost think it has locked up on occasions. This brings me to soft and hard resets. On most Palms a soft reset takes seconds - certainly under a minute - this is nearer to five minutes. A hard reset - last resort when knickers are well and truly in a twist - takes a few minutes at most normally here it is well over half an hour and during that time you are often left thinking nothing is happening.


Like most recent Palms it can be used as an MP3 player, files can be transferred by synchronisation (as will all Palms) copied to an SD card or just copied onto to hard disc by swapping modes. The Palm player is Pocket Tunes and not Real Player as with earlier units. The LifeDrive has a quite reasonable speaker mounted in the back of the unit. Of course when travelling you should use earbuds and there is a socket mounted on the base. This to me is poor design as the supplied leather pouch has a hole cut to allow the earbuds socket to be accessed but to turn the unit on it must be out of the case and therefore plugging and unplugging must be done after turning on and before turning off, certainly not great if others do not share your musical tastes.


Most other things will be very like any other Palm but with some twists, the 3.85GB hard disc can be used as a 'mule' for storage but most things required for Palm use still need to be transferred by synchronisation. This unit is the first to have both Wireless and Bluetooth and that is certainly a plus point.


Photos can be quickly transferred from your camera via the SD card so that it can store files to be transferred to the PC on your return to home or office. The memo feature can also allow you to capture far more information.


The now almost universal five way navigation button allows less reliance on the stylus, this is a spring loaded affair and I found it less secure often springing up unrequested. I have already mentioned Wireless and Bluetooth connectivity but the old favourite infra red is still there to allow you to beam information to other users. As with other recent Palms the screen can be used landscape and portrait and providing the application supports it 320x480 is possible.


For anyone new to Palm the Quick Tour will soon get you going a lot more information can be found from the link below the stated price is £329 but look around and I suspect you should find it under £300 but this is still quite a price today for what is still only a PDA.

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