Palm's top of the range PDA sports a 4GB hard drive, SDIO card slot and wants to be your digital camera's companion. We find out if it fits the billWin a Palm LifeDrive during December with DPNow and Palm
Palm suggests the LifeDrive Mobile Manager PDA works well as a digital camera companion
Palm's top of the range pocket computer is the LifeDrive Mobile Manager. It's one of the most powerful Palm family PDAs yet. Palm certainly think it's an attractive accessory for people who use digital cameras - it has memory card slot that is compatible with SD cards, plus software for displaying photos and creating albums and slide shows. But of course it's much more than that. Like Most PDAs, it can synchronise with your calendar and scheduling software and act as an electronic notepad and recorder, among many other things.
The LifeDrive is a very up to date Palm; it has a speedy 416MHz Intel XScale RISC processor, Bluetooth and 802.11b WiFi wireless connectivity, 64MB system memory and, perhaps most significantly of all - a 4GB hard drive. The LifeDrive also has a large wide-screen (3:2 aspect ratio) 3.8 inch 320x480 pixel LCD display that is designed to work efficiently even in bright ambient light, plus an SDIO port compatible with SD and MMC memory cards as well as SD devices, like mini-cameras, for example.
A rich suite of software applets is built in to the LifeDrive, including a Web browser, calculator, email client, games, calendar/contacts/tasks, MP3 music player, voice memo, world clock - with real time global day/night map, etc. With its Bluetooth capability, the LifeDrive can be configured to connect up with a suitable Bluetooth-equipped mobile phone for connection to the Internet for Web browsing and email access. It even has a phone dialer so you can phone contacts without needing to re-key their numbers.
Being a photography site, the built in application we're most interested in is the Camera Companion. It turns out that the Camera Companion is only a media file import manager. You are offered three options: Copy to Device, Copy to Computer and, finally, View Photos and Video.
The first two are self-explanatory, giving you the choice of copying image and movie clip files from a memory card to either the LifeDrive's own hard disk space or to the hard disk of a computer it is connected to. The third option lets you display images or play movie clips on the LifeDrive's own screen, either direct from a memory card or a from the unit's own hard disk.
By opting to display an image or movie clip, the LifeDrive's Media player comes into play. This is simple application that shows thumbnails of media files in a selected folder and lets you view them full-screen. There are no editing options and viewing size options are very limited. We were able display camera JPEG images, TIFF and GIF image file types, but not PNG. JPEGs up to 8 megapixels were displayed without problem.
There is a rotate function, but we found that depending on the orientation of the screen (a button is provided to rotate the display from portrait to landscape view) and image rotation selection, large areas of the image would be off-screen and only visible by dragging the image around with the stylus. No image zoom function is provided. The slide show player is a bit better, offering a small number of transition effects, either randomly selected or a single type selectable for the whole show.
Movie clip playback was a little problematical. Native AVI clips from some cameras will playback straight from the memory card, but other types need to be converted using supplied software that runs on a host computer.
Conclusions and ratings
- DPNow rating system explained
- sharp stylish design
- Good wireless connectivity, but no CF slot
- No complaints here
Ease of use
- Friendly user interface
Value for money
- Cheaper competition could be a problem
- At DPNow we don't much rate stars and percentages because they mean one thing to one reviewer and something else to another - this is why we use our own rating system above, but as the industry demands such devices, we reluctantly provide them, based on our concept of the product's target market, the competition and how we got on with the product while testing it:.
DPNow rated: 81%
DPNow rated: 4 stars (out of 5)
Things we liked about the Palm LifeDrive Mobile Manager:
4GB hard disk
SDIO memory card slot and device expansion
Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity
Relatively good performance for a Palm device
Things we didn't like:
Very limited 'Camera Companion' features
Relatively large for a pocket computer
Only SD/MMC card compatible - no CF card slot
Lithium ion battery not user-replaceable
Screen not particularly bright and brightness not adjustable
Competition can be cheaper
The bottom line:
The Palm LifeDrive Mobile Manager is one of the most ambitious Palm-family pocket computers yet. Its 4GB of internal hard disk storage is certainly an attractive feature for storing music, photos and video clips. The Camera Companion was a little disappointing, but camera users can still make good use of that onboard storage. The LifeDrive is a little on the large size, but it has a large screen and overall, the acid test - would we use one - is passed; yes we would.
Now go to the next page
for a visual tour of the Palm LifeDrive...
| Check the latest price or purchase options for the Palm Life drive via
|Click on the flag that best relates to your location |
|The EU flag links to Amazon Germany, currently the only European Amazon outlet that supplies electronic goods like cameras priced in Euros. |
| Each Amazon outlet can ship to most countries in the world.|