Wednesday, June 29, 2005

PalmOne LifeDrive

As I mentioned a few days ago Tim recently ordered a Palm Lifedrive from Amazon. After holding onto it for an extra day, despite it having arrived in Hilo at 6:00am on Monday, FedEx delivered it this afternoon...

The Palm Lifedrive ($499.99 or £298.99)

My first impression is that it's slightly heavier and more bulky than a normal PDA, but since there is a 4GB hard drive at the heart of the Lifedrive this is probably only to be expected.

Despite good wireless signal strength, download speed seemed slow, and the two minute time out on the DHCP lease when the connection was idle became somewhat irritating after only a short period of time. There is also a slight, but noticeable lag when switching applications, although Palm OS has always suffered from this to some extent.

On the other hand Blazer, the bundled web browser, did perform exceptionally well reformatting the layout of an admittedly somewhat unscientifically chosen sample of web pages the device's form factor.

Input is either using handwriting recognition or by a soft keyboard. Unfortunately, like all recent Palm devices, the recognition system uses Graffiti 2 which I think is much inferior to the original Graffiti. Of course not everyone will agree with me here...

The killer application of a PDA for me is the calendar, and the version shipping with the LifeDrive looks to be much improved over the one I'm using on my Treo 180, although it still doesn't seem to come up to the gold standard set by Apple's iCal.

However, the main problem with the LifeDrive appears to be the battery life, after playing with it for only a couple of hours Tim had managed to drain about 1/4 of the battery life. It doesn't look like it'll survive a full transatlantic flight. Despite this, as always, your milage may vary...

Despite these small niggles I like the new Palm LifeDrive. The specifications look good, and it feels solid. Will it be enough to save Palm's fading market share? Only time will tell...