Caping months of rumors, leaks, and tremendous anticipation, palmOne has officially unveiled the LifeDrive Mobile Manager, its first handheld with a built-in 4 GB hard drive.
When the Tungsten T5 came out last fall, many long-time Palm OS Handheld users were unsatisfied, not feeling it was a worthy successor to the venerable Tungsten T3. These people then set their sights on the LifeDrive, which includes some features they have been hoping for, like Wi-Fi wireless networking.
However, palmOne feels that this model is more than just another handheld. It believes that the inclusion of the 4 GB hard drive catapults it into a new category, the mobile manager.
The Hitachi microdrive used in the LifeDrive, which actually has 3.85 GB of space available to the user, weighs less than a AA battery, is smaller than a matchbook and transfers data 30 percent faster than the previous-generation Hitachi version.
To help users manage all these files, palmOne has included several applications.
One, called simply Files, allows users to view all the files and folders on the microdrive.
As its name suggests, Folder Sync allows users to synchronize selected folders between their desktop computer and the LifeDrive.
This handheld also supports Drive Mode, so users can plug their handheld into the USB port on a desktop or laptop and have the microdrive appear as a removable drive.
"LifeDrive is versatile," said Ken Wirt, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for palmOne. "For the business executive, it's a personal mobile briefcase; for the photo enthusiast, it's a camera companion."
The LifeDrive has a 320-by-480-pixel display that supports both portrait and landscape modes. It offers full-screen video playback, and its hard drive will be able to store up to 8 hours of video, depending on how the movie is encoded.
Instead, it ships with a version of NormSoft's Pocket Tunes that is able to work with Real's Rhapsody streaming music service. In addition, Pocket Tunes is able to play MP3, WMA, Ogg Vorbis, and WAV files.
It also comes with an application called Camera Companion that will allow users to easily pull the pictures off an SD card and copy them to its internal hard drive.
The LifeDrive runs Palm OS Garnet on a 416 MHz XScale processor.
It has 65.2 MB of RAM. Details are a little sketchy, but at this point this appears to be a partition on the hard drive, rather than what people traditionally think of as RAM.
In some ways the LifeDrive is smaller than palmOne's most recent handheld, the Tungsten T5. But it is definitely thicker and heavier. It is 4.76 inches tall, 2.87 inches wide, and 0.74 inches thick. It weighs 6.8 ounces.
It includes a slot that is compatible with SD, SDIO, and MultiMediaCard cards.
Unlike the Tungsten T5, the LifeDrive includes a voice recorder.
Its 1660 mAh Li-ion battery is not swappable.
DocumentsToGo allows it to work with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents in their native formats.
This device comes pre-loaded with copies of palmOne's web browser and VersaMail, its email application.
palmOne's suggested price for the LifeDrive mobile manager is $499.
Limited quantities are available now from the palmOne web store and some retail stores worldwide.
Volume availability is expected by early June.
Brighthand will have a review of this device available later today.
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