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Palm LifeDrive

Palm LifeDrive

It's hard to keep a good secret, as the folks at PalmOne are finding out. We've all seen rumors surrounding the PalmOne LifeDrive popping up on tech blogs, but Amazon.com confirmed its existence by leaking basic specs and pictures of the high-end device last week, along with the product's May 18 release date. On the heels of the Amazon slip, PalmOne today more or less confirmed the news by announcing its move into a new category of mobile computing products: the mobile manager. According to the company, the mobile manager line will target three major customer segments--digital entertainment lovers, mobile professionals, and smart-phone addicts--with the LifeDrive as the first release. Details are still developing, but from what we've seen on Amazon.com (the page has since been taken down), the $499 device will roll productivity and entertainment features into one slick but pricey package.

Upside: Based on the specs and customer reviews we saw on Amazon, the PalmOne LifeDrive looks to be the first PDA with an integrated hard drive for all your PIM and digital entertainment storage needs. The LifeDrive's smart-file management and drag-and-drop file transfer should complement the hard drive nicely. The device will be powered by a zippy, 416MHz Intel XScale processor and feature a 320x480-resolution screen that can support portrait and landscape modes. Also, the LifeDrive will finally have integrated Wi-Fi in addition to Bluetooth--that is, if the user reviews are correct.

Downside: We can't help but wonder how the LifeDrive's new functionality will impact its battery life. After all, what would be the purpose of such a device if you're constantly running to the nearest outlet to power up? And we'd like to see the inclusion of an integrated keyboard to make the LifeDrive a complete productivity package. Finally, at $499, the LifeDrive is going to leave quite a dent in your wallet.

Outlook: PalmOne's new initiative into the mobile manager category should be a good move for the company, as more and more consumers look for all-in-one gadgets. That said, the idea of PDAs as portable media devices is just starting to take off; while the LifeDrive is sure to garner lots of interest, only hard-core gadget hounds or early adopters may be willing to part with the cash. Still, we're eager to get our hands on the LifeDrive and take it for a test-drive. Check back soon for a full review.

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