palmOne LifeDrive Mobile Manager PDA Review - Synching and Software Review

It’s touches like these that make the LifeDrive such a pleasure to use. Click on the time and a panel pops up displaying remaining battery life and memory, audio settings and the screen brightness. The graffiti area is a soft panel rather than a fixed area, so it can be kept out of the way when you’re not entering text.

The power cable plugs into the synch cable so you can synch and charge at the same time or just take the power cable when your on the road and don’t need to synch. The AC adaptor also has removable front and you can exchange it easily for one of the world travel plugs that are supplied in the box. I did rue not having a cradle though, even just to have somewhere to leave the stylus while it was syncing. And while I had no problems syncing with Outlook, palmOne still has nothing to match ActiveSync, which keeps everyhitng updated on PC and PDA in real-time.

palmOne makes a lot of the fact that you can use the LifeDrive as a portable storage unit to transfer data to any PC. This is true but you’ll still need to have the sync cable with you to connect to any PC, so it’s not quite as useful as a large USB key. Connection speeds over the cable use USB 2.0 but it still seemed a little sluggish when transferring files.

So while the specs and the hardware are all great it would mean little if palmOne mucked up the software – but fortunately they’ve got that spot on too and pretty much everything you need is included on the software CD. Office suite, music player, video player, calendar, contacts, web browser, and email client, amongst other things.

Hook up the PC and the LifeDrive Manager tab pops up. You can click this to open the applications straight away or wait until you’re ready and an icon sits in your system tray. The app provides a simple drag and drop interface of the contents of the PDA. It offers some predefined folders such as Music and Photos and Videos but you can easily create your own. You can also select a folder on the LifeDrive and keep it synchronised with your PC.

Once connected it was a real treat to realise I could just dump loads of music and images onto the PDA. PocketTunes does a good job with MP3s out of the box. However, you’ll have to pay $25 though to upgrade to the Deluxe version that plays WMA and OGG. One big disappointment though is that when I switched away from PocketTunes to do other things the music skipped with the disk access. I was disappointed with this, as there should be solid state buffer memory to take care of things like this. Definitely something to work on for the next version.

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