Brighthand Reviews the palmOne LifeDrive Mobile Manager — Part III

by Reads (26,256)

This is Part III of this review. Part I should be read first.

LifeDrive as storage

In my preview I mentioned that the LifeDrive appeared to sync LifeDrive Manager data and the regular Palm memory area separately. Well, that was only partly true. As I mentioned I’d only had the device for 12 hours at that point.

LifeDrive Manager is a program that runs on Windows 2000 and Windows XP computers, giving the user a direct view of what’s on the device. In LifeDrive Manager, you can set certain folders or files to synchronize between the LifeDrive and PC. When you press the HotSync button, a conduit is set by default to synchronize the LifeDrive Manager folders as well. You can also sync only the selected folders with a button inside the LifeDrive Manager application. You might want to do this at the end of the workday so you don’t have to sit through a full AvantGo/VersaMail/PocketQuicken sync, but just want to sync the files you need to take with you.

Provided your PC’s hard drive has enough space, you can set your LifeDrive Manager conduit to both synchronize your selected folders and backup everything on the drive, because normally only the 65MB of traditional Palm OS space is backed up during HotSync by default. I recommend you only try this on a USB 2.0 computer, however, or do it infrequently, because 4GB can take a long time to travel through USB 1.1.

Managing files between LifeDrive and two PCs can be a little confusing at first, but experienced folder users should have no trouble setting up multiple syncs between folders all over their PC. You can also sync folders on the SD card, or else the entire SD card.

I read someone complain recently that a hard reset on the LifeDrive would purge all the data on both the Palm memory area and the LifeDrive itself. I was pretty concerned about that as well, and would prefer it if Palm gave us the option to reformat one or both. But at least we can select to HotSync all of the device if we choose for an easy restore. I learned the importance of this when my T3 started eating SD cards for lunch, and have kept a backup ever since. Now it can be automatic.

Just like the T5, the LifeDrive can also be used as a flash drive, provided you have your cable with you. This works on any OS that supports PTP, and operates pretty much like the MissingSync application from Mark/Space that Mac users rely on.

Drive Mode Until Mark/Space makes a LifeDrive Manager equivalent, Mac users will be limited to using either Missing Sync or Palm’s built-in Drive Mode application. Both work about the same and get the job done. Palm’s HotSync should still work, but I haven’t confirmed that because I use the Missing Sync for its grace and elegance, not to mention easy customizability.

If you want to use your LifeDrive as a flash drive, all you have to do is plug it into any computer with a USB port, launch the Drive Mode application on the LifeDrive and your handheld’s hard drive appears as a drive on the PC (be it Mac, Windows, or Linux). If you have an SD card in the slot, that also appears as its own drive. Very cool. Just drag and drop files to and from these drives to copy as you please.

WiFile

Bundled with the LifeDrive is a free copy of WiFileLT. This amazing program by Hands High Software gives you access to servers on your network via WiFi. It’s so easy, it’s not worth saying more than that it just plain works, just as easy as finding a file in the LifeDrive’s own Files application. You’re limited to only grabbing one file at a time, but it makes accessing a server effortless. Upgrading the WiFile Pro is a good idea if you’re accessing a lot of files on a regular basis.

Files

Files The built-in Files application works well, with simple taps taking you in and out of folders, and it helps you copy files fairly easily between the SD card and the LifeDrive. It lacks the ability to move or copy files to the Palm’s main memory. It’s also incapable of telling you how much memory is left on the card or drive. For these reasons, I also use the excellent freeware FileZ application which can do just about anything.

This review has been broken up into sections:


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