Brighthand Reviews the palmOne LifeDrive Mobile Manager — Part IV

by Reads (25,908)

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

Wireless email and Internet access

LifeDrive comes with VersaMail and the Blazer browser. Both work well, though I’d still like VersaMail to offer a single inbox to handle my multiple accounts. The new setup procedure is excellent, with a PC setup routine that accesses all your account information from your email program and fills in most of the fields for you based on your existing settings. You have the option to set the number of days you’d like the sync, as well as limit file size and whether to include attachments.

I still use SnapperMail, because it gives me the option of putting all my email in one inbox. When I just want to quickly check for important email, I only want to look in one place. VersaMail requires that I pull down the menu, select Accounts, and pick which account I want to view, and when you’re retrieving more than one, it’s a pain.

Both apps offer timed retrieval of email, but VersaMail can automatically launch and connect to the local WiFi AP, whereas SnapperMail will not automatically invoke WiFi. It defaults instead to looking for an open Bluetooth connection, and if BT is off, does nothing. I’m hoping this is a quick software fix for SnapperFish. If WiFi is already active, it does retrieve via that channel, and defaults to WiFi if both WiFi and Bluetooth are on.

Blazer is about as fast as it’s ever been, which really isn’t saying much. The proxy browser was impressive when it was compressing and shoving data down a narrow Bluetooth or infrared pipe, but its performance on 802.11b isn’t exactly breaking speed records. Switching to non-proxy or full page mode seems to speed page load, which makes sense. I’m not criticizing Blazer, but it seems to be little different from the last offering of WebPro on the T3. Blazer is good enough that I use it frequently via both Bluetooth and WiFi.

WiFi

If you know anything about setting up a WiFi connection, you’ll have little problem handling setup. I’ve set mine up on networks with heavy duty security settings in short order, though those long keys can be entered more easily with something like the palmOne Universal Wireless Keyboard.

WiFi Setup Unfortunately, when a program activates WiFi it fails about fifty percent of the time, especially if a program’s flow is interrupted by a WiFi shutdown, like when you’re reading a long Web page and the WiFi radio times out. If it misses re-connecting to the network you’re near, it begins scanning through its list of other access points it’s recently connected to. This can take some time, and if it gets to the end of the list, it often reboots the device. Better to hit Cancel, then the WiFi icon, and scan on your own. When using a network like T-Mobile’s HotSpot, the timeouts can get tedious, because you have to re-enter your username and password every time. Default is three minutes, but you can raise it to as long as 15 minutes.

WiFi range is very good. I’ve had no trouble connecting from all over my house, all over my office, in Starbucks, and from the second level in the local mall across from the Apple Store.

Bluetooth

This old standby works just great. The PhoneLink application has been integrated into the Prefs application, which I prefer. There’s nothing new to say here. Unlike just about every other product I’ve used, Palms are even easier than Macs to set up for wireless access.

In a nice touch, the LifeDrive is the first Palm PDA I can think of that lets you have Bluetooth and WiFi on at the same time. This lets you use the Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard to write emails and then send them with WiFi.

This review has been broken up into sections:


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