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9/10

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palmOne LifeDrive Mobile Manager PDA

I have to admit that in the past I’ve not been a huge fan of Palm devices. Call me a Microsoftie but I’ve always found PocketPCs to be more powerful and capable devices. Palm devices on the other hand seemed to me to be underpowered and feature lacking. One thing in particular was Wi-Fi, which palmOne at one point claimed couldn’t be added to a PDA for a reasonable price despite there being plenty of Pocket PCs on the market to disprove it.

However, recently, as our columnist Sandra has pointed out, palmOne seems to have got its act together. The Treo 600 and Treo 650 are a case in point and have proved very popular despite the lack of Wi-Fi. When I first heard the specifications of the LifeDrive, primarily the 4GB hard disk, I was intrigued. And as soon as I got one in my hand I was hooked. In many ways this is the best PDA I’ve used since the Dell Axim X50v and in many ways it's superior.

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The LifeDrive is well named. The idea is that instead of scrabbling to fit all of your stuff onto your device, as you do with most PDAs, you’re able to just dump your life onto it - pictures, music, videos, and all, without having to think about it. This is thanks to a 4GB Hitachi Micro Drive, (3.85GB of formatted capacity to be precise). That’s pretty much what I want out of a PDA - the ability to take a lot, if not all my important stuff with me, and have great connectivity to get at other things and a battery that will let me use it for a decent amount of time. And on all these fronts it does a pretty impressive job.

The LifeDrive looks really good in pictures and lives up to that image when you actually pick it up in your hands. It feels lighter than it looks and weighs in at 193g. It’s quite thick at 19mm but it’s not as long or as wide as my Tapwave Zodiac 2. The thickness actually works in its favour and the fact that it’s tapered towards the back actually enables it to sit more comfortably in the hand. This means that you won’t be able to slip in into your pocket but will have to reside in a jacket pocket or a bag, but then that’s true of most PDAs.

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