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Palm LifeDrive Device Spotlight

Pictures of the Palm LifeDrive Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:11 pm
Here are a number of pictures I took of the Palm LifeDrive. There are several pictures with the Palm Treo 650, the Palm Tungsten T5, and the Palm Universal Keyboard. Enjoy!

Pictures of Palm LifeDrive
Permalink | Discuss (0)

Some More Thoughts Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:08 pm
Well, I have finally finished my journey with the Palm LifeDrive. While I enjoyed the LifeDrive, there were several factors that kept it from becoming my primary device. I understand that the focus of the device was probably not on my use of the device. However, I still think too many compromises were made in order to bring this device to market. Maybe, I was just expecting too much.

With that said, I still think this device will work for many potential users of this device. As I mentioned in a previous post, it is a solid device. It has a beautiful 320x480 screen, a 416 MHz processor, 4 GB of internal memory, and a voice recorder.

Of course, I will have more to share as I put together my experience of the Palm LifeDrive.
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Voice Recording Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:44 am
I have been using the Voice Memo application on the LifeDrive to create the PalmFocus Palmcasts. While it has worked very well, I was puzzled as to why Palm left out the ability to record memos directly to the internal hard drive or to an external memory card. You cannot even record them on the device and then transfer them to the internal hard drive or the external memory card. Anyway, this was very surprising especially since I know that the Tungsten T3 had this ability to use the external memory card. I guess is not a big deal, but it does limit you to the 64 MB of RAM available on the device.

I will probably be looking into alternatives for recording voice messages. Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks.
Permalink | Discuss (3)

Breaking Traditions Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:43 am
I have been using the the Palm LifeDrive for roughly a week now, and this is not a typical PDA. If nothing else, it is not what has traditionally been considered a PDA. However, I think we have been limited in our ideas of what a PDA actually is and can be.

As we probably all know, PDA is an acronym for Personal Digital Assistant. Another often used acronym for PDA is PIM, Personal Information Manager. In the past and probably even now, we hear these terms and automatically think of dates, contacts, tasks, and notes. However, the personal information we manage goes far beyond these four items. We now have emails, audio files, video files, pictures, and many other formats of information.

With that said, the Palm LifeDrive was designed to go beyond what we traditionally think of a PDA. In fact, it has actually taken the traditional Palm application buttons (Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Notes) and replaced them with new destinations (Home, Photos/Videos, Files, and Music). If you did not know what a Palm device was, you might actually overlook the fact that the LifeDrive has the capability to handle your calendar, contacts, tasks, and notes. As with any change, this is a good thing, and it is a bad thing.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way. One, it is difficult to get the data that you need to access quickly. When you need to make a call or jot down a note, the traditional PIM applications are what we need, and we need them now. Not only have they changed the application buttons, they also included a hard drive that slows access to this much needed information. I realize that you can remap the application buttons, and there are programs available to help with the response of the hard drive. However, you still have to admit that it was primarily designed to handle photos, videos, files, and music. We basically make changes to help it fit the other needs we have.

Now, let's talk about the good stuff. It has a 4 GB hard drive. Need I say more. This gives you the ability to store all kinds of information onto the device. You really can feasibly store ALL your personal information on this device, including MP3s, videos, pictures, and a host of other documents. I know there are many people who would like more than 4 GB, but 4 GB is a good place to start. I also imagine larger capacities will become available. With the large hard drive, you also have the ability to connect thee device and use it like an external hard drive. If you share information between several computers, this really makes the LifeDrive a central depository for your information. Plus, if you away from your computers, you still have the ability to access the information directly on the device and take it with you wherever you go. Of course, the new application buttons give you direct access the large amounts of data that you are now able to carry with you.
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Battery Life - Part 3 Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:42 am
I was able to conduct another battery test with my LifeDrive, today. For this test, I setup TCPMP to repeatedly playback an AVI video file just like I did for Part 2 of the Battery Test. Thus, the volume was set at 50%, and the brightness of the screen was set at 50%. Bluetooth and WiFi were both turned off. All the other settings were identical to the tests listed in Part 2. However, there was one exception. The test of the LifeDrive in Part 2 used the internal hard drive to store the video. In this test (Part 3), the external SD card was used to store the video. As expected, using the SD card used less power and improved battery life during video playback, but I was surprised it increased battery life by 30%.

Here are results for video playback:
  • Palm LifeDrive (External SD Card): 4 hours 40 minutes
  • Palm LifeDrive (Internal Hard Drive): 3 hours 35 minutes
  • PalmOne Treo 650: 8 hours 35 minutes
  • PalmOne Tungsten T3: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • PalmOne Tungsten T5: 3 hours 40 minutes
  • Tapwave Zodiac 2: 2 hours 50 minutes
  • Dell Axim X50v: 2 hours 35 minutes
If we apply a 30% increase in battery life to the test for audio playback (Part 1), the Palm LifeDrive would last about 12 hours and 20 minutes using a SD card compared to the battery life of 9 hours and 30 minutes using the internal hard drive.

As mentioned in Part 2, the specifications on the AVI video file are as follows:
  • Audio Bit Rate: 96 kbps, Stereo
  • Audio Format: MP3
  • Video Bit Rate: ~300 kbps
  • Video Format: XviD
  • Video Size: 416 x 176
  • Video Frame Rate: 24 fps
  • Video Length: 2:50:07 hh:mm:ss
  • File Size: 494,052 KB
The video was converted using my DVD and the FairUse Wizard LE. Found out how, here.
Permalink | Discuss (0)

Battery Life - Part 2 Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:36 am
I was able to conduct another battery test with my LifeDrive, today. For this test, I setup TCPMP to repeatedly playback an AVI video file. The volume was set at 50%, the brightness of the screen was set at 50%. Bluetooth and WiFi were both turned off. All the other settings were as close to identical as I could possibly get to the other tests I performed for the following devices: PalmOne Treo 650, PalmOne Tungsten T3, PalmOne Tungsten T5, Tapwave Zodiac 2, and the Dell Axim X50v. Thus, I have included the results from these devices along with the Palm LifeDrive.

Here are results for video playback:
  • Palm LifeDrive: 3 hours 35 minutes
  • PalmOne Treo 650: 8 hours 35 minutes
  • PalmOne Tungsten T3: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • PalmOne Tungsten T5: 3 hours 40 minutes
  • Tapwave Zodiac 2: 2 hours 50 minutes
  • Dell Axim X50v: 2 hours 35 minutes
I really expected better battery life from the Palm LifeDrive. For video playback, the Palm Tungsten T5 lasts just as long. However, I was using the internal drive for video playback. There may be a difference when using the SD card, so I might consider performing another using the SD card.

By the way, the specifications on the AVI video file are as follows:
  • Audio Bit Rate: 96 kbps, Stereo
  • Audio Format: MP3
  • Video Bit Rate: ~300 kbps
  • Video Format: XviD
  • Video Size: 416 x 176
  • Video Frame Rate: 24 fps
  • Video Length: 2:50:07 hh:mm:ss
  • File Size: 494,052 KB
The video was converted using my DVD and the FairUse Wizard LE. Found out how, here.
Permalink | Discuss (0)

Battery Life - Part 1 Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:35 am
I was able to conduct a battery test, yesterday. For the test, I setup Pocket Tunes to repeatedly playback a set of 128 kbps MP3 files. The volume was set at 50%, and the screen was set to go off after 10 seconds. Bluetooth and WiFi were both turned off. All the other settings were as close to identical as I could possibly get with the same tests I performed for the Palm Treo 650 GSM, Palm Tungsten T3, and the Palm Tungsten T5. Thus, I have included the results for the Palm Treo 650, Palm Tungsten T3, Palm Tungsten T5, and the Palm LifeDrive.

Here are results for MP3 Playback (Screen Off):
  • Palm LifeDrive: 9 hours 30 minutes
  • Palm Treo 650 GSM: 13 hours 30 minutes
  • Palm Tungsten T3: 5 hours 10 minutes
  • Palm Tungsten T5: 6 hours 40 minutes
Today, I will conduct a battery test using video. I will be comparing the results of the Palm LifeDrive with the Dell Axim X50v, Tapwave Zodiac 2, Palm Tungsten T3, Palm Tungsten T5, and the Palm Treo 650 GSM. Stay tuned...
Permalink | Discuss (2)

Initial Impressions Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:31 am
The LifeDrive is another well built device from Palm. The front and sides are anodized aluminum with the back of the device is molded plastic. All the buttons have a solid and tactile feel. In addition, I like the feel of the sliding power switch.

While the power switch is not new, it is the first time Palm has used the sliding power switch. Basically, it allows the user to power the device on and off with the ability to lock the device. This allows the user to keep the device on without any interruptions from accidentally tapping the screen or accidentally hitting a button. This is very useful for listening to music. In addition, it allows the user to lock the device in the off mode to prevent him/her from powering on the device unknowingly.

When I first decided to try the LifeDrive, I was a little hesitant due to the reported lag of the device. After using the device for a while, there is a noticeable lag when performing different functions in various applications, and I find it very disruptive. While a second or two does not seem like a big deal, the random pause (i.e. lag) interrupts the smooth and elegant user experience that has made Palm a well-known name. This may not really be an issue after using the device for a while, but I would like to note for the record that the lag is real.

I was also concerned about battery life. In all the different articles, I have not been overly impressed with the battery life of the product. I look forward to testing it myself to see how it compares with other devices (i.e. Palm Treo 650, Palm Tungsten T3, Palm Tungsten T5, Dell Axim X50v, and Tapwave Zodiac).

As with all devices, I will make it my primary device for several weeks in order to get a real good, objective opinion of the device. I look forward to using the LifeDrive and I invite you to share in the experience. I intend to keep posting about my experience for the next weeks.
Permalink | Discuss (0)

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