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Although a little outdated now, especially with the release of the iPhone etc. The Palm LiveDrive offers a sensible solution for keeping your live in order with a few little tricks to keep you entertained as well.
To start of with the LiveDrive is very nice looking, cast in an aluminium body with a 3.8 TFT screen it is really nice to hold and feels really well made. You turn on the device via a flick switch at the top of the device, after it has turned on there are many options and personalising the buttons at the bottom is easy as well, you can choose to access your emails using a button, or enter your favourite game, or access the free word, presentation and database sheets which are compatible with the Microsoft applications.
The navigation menus are easy to use allowing you to easily flick through the vast number of applications that you can download (some of them for free). And if you like the odd game whilst you are on the train as well you can download plenty of them, either through the wireless network or a cable connected up to the computer.
You can also download mp3's to the device and use your own headphones via the port at the top of the device.
All these features are great on the device, and for only £89 off of Amazon I would say this is a good little buy, if you do not already have a smartphone, otherwise this device would not be all that useful, unless your smartphone does not have access to some sort of word processing. However with a lack of 3G connectivity you can only access emails when you are in a free wifi zone.
This is a great piece of kit for several reasons.
The screen quality is excellent, it displays photos and applications very nicely. It is however extremely difficult to get DVDs and movies onto the device.
The software is PalmOS, this is an excellent piece of software which is extremely simple to use and impossible to go wrong with. It is far more stable that Windows Mobile but does offer less functionality and flexibility.
The casing is made of metal, it feels nice in the hand and difficult to break, plus it looks great. The only problem with the casing is the size is huge!
There is an internal microphone, this is great, it is always there if you need to take notes and there is a button on the side which instantly opens and runs the recording software.
The input of data into it is so easy to do via either the graffiti which is similar to handwriting recognition, or there is the on-screen keyboard.
Synchronization with your computer is easy, with the excellent piece of Palm Desktop software. The in built bluetooth and wifi means you can also sync wirelessly.
Internet browsing is pretty good, but does not have a flash player so rich content is not always available.
As there is a hard drive in the device, you will struggle to run out of space!
I have always wanted a PDA, but could never see the point because of the lack of on board memory and the price of external memory cards are just too expensive to be worth it.
But wait for it....... Palm then release the Life Drive!! Ok, so whats the big reason for having a hard drive on a PDA does anyone really have that many files, or emails they want saved, well no! But how many videos and mp3s are on your PC, thats exactly what I wanted something to bring with me on the way to work to phase out the noise and sight of people on the bus. Now I can watch a episode of Lost or the Simpsons on the way to work, or listen to a couple of music tracks!
The PC software for the Palm comes with a convertor for changing the format of video files so they can be played on the Life Drive, so you can use any video files, Divx, MPG, you name it. Movie quality is great, and music is also good as well, although invest in a decent set of headphones (no.... do not even think of using those headphones from your old 1986 Walkman that have been lying in a drawer for the last clatter of years)
I am fairly tech savvy but my god how I hate setting up wireless networks, with the Life Drive, it was seriously easy, I mean it I pressed two buttons and it done. The internet on this device is ultra quick (of course depending on your internet connection)
Also tried wireless controlling my PC with this, worked like a dream.
Downloaded from the net some very cool remote control software for free. I can now control my TV, DVD player, Hifi, and Sky box all from the Lifedrive, the IDRA sender on the device is fantastic and has over a 6ft throw on it.
The screen is very very clear, and looks great.
The device itself is sold metal of some description, and it feels well in the hand, great workmanship Palm!!
All in all as my first PDA its fantastic, and for anyone I would highly recommend it. Great for the business user, and great for the movie and music lover too!!
Its a tad expensive, but hey cut down on the coffees, dinners, fags, beer whatever your vice is and get this!!!
Thanks, sorry it was so long.
I was very excited when I heard that a new Palm was coming out. Since I got my first m100 six years ago, Ive watched developments with interest. Over the period, Ive upgraded to the m505 and the Tungsten T. (Those of you who are technosavvy will realise that I cant wait for Palm to make the inevitable improvements to a range; I just have to have the first one that comes out.) I was tempted by the Tungsten T3 but in the end decided that my old T was still enough for me. Would it be the same with the Lifedrive?
From the published spec, the Lifedrive looked to offer a few advantages over my existing model, while keeping all of the features that had made me love the T. The voice recording was still there, as was Bluetooth and the five-way navigator, but the new features that potentially attracted me most were (in no particular order), the 4GB hard drive, drive mode and Wi-fi.
In the box
I was beside myself when the box finally arrived (for UK readers, Amazon has the best price at £299 and change). In the silver-grey box was a Grafitti 2 reference sheet (in several languages), the Windows and Mac installation CDs, a quick start guide and the power and hotsync cable. The Lifedrive manual itself is included on the device, as well as a quick tour, making it easy to check any issues quickly.
Not so universal
The old Universal connector has been replaced (no surprise to regular Palmone followers). One end of the new multiconnector cable plugs into the Lifedrive and terminates in a USB cable that goes to your PC. To the right side of the hotsync end is another female connector. This is where the power cable plugs in. The UK power plug is swappable with three others (also included) for use in other countries. This is a slight change, as my Tungsten had the UK and US power plugs permanently attached. Now Ill have to remember to take another piece out of the box when travelling. The hotsync button itself is discreet and no longer features the familiar symbol.
Starting the device
It was all I could do to wait for the recommended three hours charging time to be up so I could play with my new toy. The Lifedrive powers on by means of a slider at the top, which also allows you to lock the device. However, it is possible to lock the device with the screen on, in which case the battery may drain. As usual with a new Palmone device, I had to tap to set the time, date, location and Graffiti. The Graffiti options allow you to say whether you are right or left handed and changes the amount of space allowed for writing letters.
The first difference I noticed was the screen which is the same size as the one on the Tungsten 3. What you really need to know is that its clear and bright in daylight and at night, indoors and out. In size and shape the Lifedrive reminded me of an Ipaq. It fits comfortably in my palm, though only just, and has the same springy stylus as the Tungsten range. At the bottom of the screen is a row of icons (from left to right: home, search, context menu, time, alert, Bluetooth, wi-fi, use entire screen, and Graffiti area). These remained greyed out when they cant be used with the current programme. To the far right is a button with an arrow. Tapping on this allows you to launch or retract the Graffiti area, which has icons for mail, calendar, web and contacts.
Below this are four hard buttons for home, file, calendar and favourites which surround the five-way navigator. As with other Palms, these are customisable and can be set to launch other programmes if you wish. The default setting for the favourites button brings up four pages of your favourite programmes in a huge start menu-like screen. These can be reordered to suit your preferences, though Im tending to stick to the traditional Palm applications screen. The calendar now features a Today type screen, though its annoying that you cant scroll forward in that view. Im sticking with Monthplanner, though, as I can manage my task and calendar data from one application.
At the bottom of the device are a headphone socket, the hotsync port and a reset hole, while on the left are a voice recording button and a screen orientation button (more on that later). At the top of the device is an SD card slot (card not included, Im afraid).
Upgrading was a cinch. I installed the special version of Palm Desktop, plugged it all in and away I went. During the setup process programs Palmone thought wouldnt work were placed in a special folder so you could have the option to install them one by one later. One of these was a free icon set which I reinstalled afterwards without a problem. One of my other staple programmes Femdays crashed on startup, but I reinstalled it and that works fine too. There were also some teething problems with the new version of Documents to Go, but a fix is provided on the Dataviz site.
The only problem with the upgrade is that someone else with an older Palm uses my computer, and when she hotsyncs, theres no sign that anything is happening because it happens in my user space. Oh well, cant have everything, I suppose.
The device includes the five basic Palm programmes. The old Datebook has become Calendar, and the Address Book has become Contacts, no doubt for all those Outlook users. Notepad, Memopad and Tasks remain virtually the same. Other included programmes are Adobe Reader, EReader (an ebook reader); Calc, Card Companion, Expense, Files ( a file manager thats not as good as the free Filez from Nosleep Software), Media (a media manager), Pocket Tunes (for playing Mp3s), Solitaire, Versamail, Blazer (web browser), WiFile (to allow you to connect wirelessly to your home PC) and World Clock. Card Companion is useful if your camera uses SD cards. It offers you the option to copy photos to the device, to your computer or simply to view them. All of these functions work well. Realone Player for Palm is on the software CD.
So what about those features? A major new one is Drive mode in which the Lifedrive becomes a USB flash drive (with a hefty 4GB of storage) that you can take to any computer and plug it in without need of additional software. This works well; Ive used it several times to swap large files between work and home and my slim, perfectly adequate 128MB USB stick is hardly being used. Thats because of the sheer convenience of having everything with me. The USB sync/power cable is a real plus here. Files copied in this way can then be accessed through the Files application or the desktop Lifedrive Manager.The down side of Drive Mode is that you cant do anything else with the Lifedrive when its on a weakness in my view.
Since I have 4GB of storage, I downloaded a few mp3s to the device and played them on the included Pocket Tunes. Sound quality is decent if tinny at the top end and good through earphones, though youll have to buy your own to test it out. If youve got an Ipod, you wont be bothered about this feature, but its quite useful for me.
The real winner for me is the Wifi (Bluetooth is also available, if you prefer to use that). If I want to check my email in front of the TV, I no longer have to unplug my laptop and lug it downstairs. The Lifedrive connected to my network seamlessly (and even better after Id installed the Wifi update from Palmone) and I was able to surf the net with the appropriately named Blazer, a speedy little browser that lets you store 100 favourites. The included Versamail was a doddle to configure and I was checking my email within seconds. Gmail isnt very PDA friendly, but I cant blame Palmone for that.
This works well. Press the button on the left of the device to bring up the record menu. Tap on the record button and recording begins. Very simple, but if you want to hear it on playback, its best to turn the volume right down before beginning a recording. This is a fiddly business that involves opening an existing recording so you can access the volume control. This annoyed me with the Tungsten T and I would have thought Palmone could have improved on this.
I must have used the Lifedrive for about 4 hours straight on the first day and I still had 30% of battery left in the morning. Wifi use drains it quickly and Palmone recommends you charge it for at least half an hour a day. In the weeks since Ive had it, I havent yet managed to drain the battery entirely and I use the device several times a day.
The five-way navigator, which doesnt seem as responsive as on my T, and Ive not decided whether I like the Addit programme which downloads news and software to your device. Hot syncing now takes much longer, as the device now has to manage Documents to go, Addit and any other conduits you may have installed, but this is only a minor annoyance.
Files on the hard drive are not backed up automatically when you Hotsync. You have to do this manually or set certain folders to synchronise. I'm still trying to figure out how to do this. This is a major flaw, because you could lose all your data if you suddenly need to do a hard reset.
The Lifedrive also tends to freeze unexpectedly, often, in my experience, when Im starting Versamail. If that happens, youd better make a cup of tea, as it will be about two minutes before you can use the device again.
*** New discoveries ***
The 'use entire screen' button does just what it says. Interestingly, writing a letter on the screen in applications view takes you to the first programme which starts with that letter. This is really useful if you've loaded a lot of programmes. (I've added 12, most of them free, and could easily add more).
Clicking on the time brings up a panel displaying the time in larger print. This panel also shows battery life and available memory and has adjusters for brightness and alert volume.
Yes, the device has some problems, but it also offers a lot of functionality, most of which I happen to need. Palmone have provided a number of ways to access your data and to remain connected. All in all, for me this device gets the thumbs up and if you like to carry your life around with you, its worth a long look.