Palm LifeDrive review:

Palm LifeDrive

For the road: although the LifeDrive can store up to 300 songs, there's always room for more, thanks to the SDIO/MMC expansion slot.

Last but not least, the PalmOne LifeDrive runs Palm OS 5.4 and features Documents To Go 7.0 for viewing, creating, and editing Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files and for opening Adobe Acrobat files. Software goodies include VersaMail 3.1, Expense, World Clock, Handmark Solitaire, and Memos, among others.

Powering the PalmOne LifeDrive is a 416MHz Intel XScale processor that provides good performance overall but not the best numbers. Like the Tungsten T5 and the Tungsten E2, the LifeDrive shows a noticeable lag in response time when switching between applications and loading any multimedia files.

Videos were watchable, but the quality suffered some during action sequences, when images became pixelated and somewhat blurry. Viewing photographs, however, was a treat, with sharp and bright images. Audio playback was relatively clear and quite loud, even in noisy environments, but we asked CNET senior editor and portable audio expert James Kim to lend us his expert opinion. Compared to today's MP3 players, the LifeDrive was one of the best handhelds to emulate a standalone MP3 player in terms of interface and features such as playlists, but the sound was thin. There was audible hiss at loud volumes, and bass was weak.

The LifeDrive's wireless functions were admirable. In our tests, the LifeDrive immediately found our test access point, and we connected to the Web in no time, although viewing graphics-intensive pages will test your patience as they upload at a poky rate. We also had no problems connecting to a Bluetooth-enabled Pocket PC and transferring contacts wirelessly.

Battery life was decent. In CNET Labs' tests, playing a looped MP3 playlist, the device petered out after 6 hours, 40 minutes--not bad as far as PDAs goes but below par compared to today's microdrive MP3 players, which average about 15 hours of battery life. We repeated the same test with a video using Kinoma Player and the LifeDrive lasted for 5 hours, 15 minutes.

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