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PalmOne launches LifeDrive

PDA meets iPod

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PalmOne has launched its $500 hard drive-equipped LifeDrive PDA - until recently the Tungsten X - as anticipated.

PalmOne LifeDriveAnd it's pretty much what the leaks had suggested: the 190g unit measures 12.1 x 7.3 x 1.9cm and packs in a 4GB hard drive, 3.9GB of which is available to the user. There's 16MB of ROM, but no RAM, according to PalmOne's spec sheet - in fact, the machine contains 64MB RAM, PalmOne people tell me. The screen is 320 x 480, 65,000-colour job.

Underneath sits a 416MHz Intel XScale CPU running Palm OS 5.4 'Garnet'.

The device incorporates Bluetooth and 802.11b Wi-Fi, and it sports PalmOne's new multi-connector to allow it to be connected to PC and Mac USB 2.0 ports. PalmOne has cleverly bundled remote access code, allowing the LifeDrive to download documents from the host PC across any Internet connection. The PDA ships with Files, the file manager PalmOne introduced with the Tungsten T5 last year, and can be connected to a host system as an external drive.

It has also bundled NormSoft's Pocket Tunes in place of the RealPlayer commonly found on other PalmOne devices. Both play MP3 files, but Pocket Tunes incorporates Windows Media Audio support, though not DRM-protected ones. It also support the Ogg Vorbis format. Buyers can upgrade to Pocket Tunes Deluxe and stream their songs across the Wi-Fi link.

Voice memo recording makes a comeback with the LifeDrive. There's the customary SD IO slot too.

As expected, PalmOne is pushing the device as a smart mobile data carrier rather than the personal information manager of old, though it provides that PDA functionality too. But then so does an iPod Photo, which also offers more than seven times the storage capacity for $150 less. That said, the Apple device lacks the LifeDrive's big screen, video, networking and document processing ability, but most of these features are on the way.

The LifeDrive ships in the UK on 26 May, for £329. ®

Related stories

PalmOne leaks LifeDrive pic ahead of launch
PalmOne promotes Colligan
US mag reveals PalmOne LifeDrive specs
PalmOne hails the 'Mobile Manager'
Amazon.com leaks PalmOne LifeDrive info

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