Since I got hold of a palm LifeDrive thereâ€™s been no going back for me, mainly because of its vast memory. If you are still vacillating about which PDA to buy, and are a professional user who needs a lot of documents available, or a consumer who wants to tote documents, images, music, or whatever, then at the moment there really donâ€™t seem to be any suitable rivals.
The LifeDrive isnâ€™t quite the pleasure to use that my Fujitsu Siemens PocketLOOX 720 or O2 XDA IIs are. Itâ€™s not SIM toting like the XDA IIs, which means using the Internet while out and about requires a Bluetooth phone, and its screen is lower resolution than that of the LOOX, which I notice most when looking at my crammed diary or reading ebooks. Most annoying of all, though, is the wait for the built in hard drive to find what I ask it to show me on screen. Sometimes this feels interminable, though in fact it is only ever a couple of seconds. Palm really does need to do something about this for future devices in the line.
Anyway, Iâ€™ll live with the waiting and those other niggles because whenever I find myself tutting while files get found and loaded or moaning about the low resolution screen or needing to use my phone to check email, Iâ€™m also smiling at the thought that every bit of document, data and sound Iâ€™d like to have to hand is indeed with me.
All that use of the LifeDrive extensively for carrying lots of data around has got me thinking about memory in general - how it is changing our expectations of mobile devices and what it could mean for the future.
Take phones. The most memory rich handset on the horizon at the moment is Nokiaâ€™s N91. This will offer 4GB of internal memory when it appears early next year â€“ thatâ€™s the same as inside the LifeDrive.
Even now, you can buy, or will very soon be able to buy, several memory-rich handsets. Theyâ€™re not up to the 4GB standards, but SonyEricssonâ€™s lovely K750i has 34MB of internal memory boosted by a 64MB Memory Stick Duo, and the same companyâ€™s W800 music phone comes with a 512MB Memory Stick Pro Duo to augment the 34MB of internal memory.
The difference between these handsets and the LifeDrive is that the bulk of their memory comes from outside the device itself. The N91 will change that for the first time, and with its 3G support no doubt Nokia thinks the ability to download to the handset, including using Visual Radio (if we have any providers up and running in the UK any time soon), will help with revenue generation for operators.
The W800 and K750i look like small fry in comparison to the N91 and LifeDrive, but their selling point is that you can expand their memory with external flash, and the limits of what flash can do are being extended all the time.
Memory specialist SanDisk recently sent me a 4GB CompactFlash card. Not bad, I thought, at the time. They then followed this up with an 8GB card, which, when I stuck it into my five megapixel Canon Ixus 500, proudly boasted that it could house 3,130 images at the highest resolution and quality I cared to throw at it. Drop this down to a high quality but email friendly 640 x 480 and the camera reports 9,999 image capacity â€“ a figure which remains the same as I lower image quality indicating that the card is capable of more storage than the camera can tell me.