A word on the case. It’s good that it’s included but I found it far too tight for the LifeDrive. It’s as if the case designers didn’t quite realise how thick the unit would be. For me this knocked on the head using the LifeDrive as a music player while walking. I wanted to keep the player protected but I couldn’t quickly adjust track and volume controls without stopping to squeeze the LifeDrive out the case and I quickly gave up. That said I was dodging al-Qaeda bombs at the time so that may have had something to do with it. A remote control would sort out this problem – (controlling the music, not the bombs unfortunately), and it would be great it one were released whether by palmOne or a third party.
So terms of specs the LifeDrive runs PalmOS 5.4.8 and is powered by a 416Mhz XScale processor, as much as more demanding Pocket PC machines. This means that the LifeDrive should really fly, but the Achilles heel for performance is also the component that is its greatest strength. The MicroDrive might be capacious but it’s also slower than solid state memory. Indeed turning on the device for the first time took a solid minute. Once booted, it was really odd waiting for a Palm device to respond having got used to them always being snappy. That said, you soon get used to the small delay after you hit the button for the home screen to appear or for a document to load. It’s still no more of a problem that with a conventional notebook and it didn’t bother me after a while.
The screen is 320 x 480 resolution and offers 16-bit colour depth and as I mentioned before can display things in portrait or landscape, which is great for watching videos, Excel spreadsheets and for web browsing. The screen in only ok. It could be brighter and the colours a tad more vivid but generally it’s fine.
As well as Bluetooth (1.1), integrated Wi-Fi finally makes it to a palmOne device. It’s only 802.11b so you’ll be able to browse the web and pick up email rather than stream videos. The battery is Lithium-Ion but not removable.
The LifeDrive benefits from a very easy to use interface. Instead of the usual Palm icon based display it defaults to a favourite list of applications placed one under the other and you scroll up and down and left and right to get to them. You can get back to the usual icon based screen by pressing the Home button again but extra applications can be easily added to the favourites for quick access.