PalmOne diversifies into mobile storage

Handheld specialist PalmOne is branching out from PDAs and smartphones, and into the field of mobile information management, with the launch its new LifeDrive product.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  May 18, 2005

Handheld specialist PalmOne is branching out from PDAs and smartphones, and into the field of mobile information management, with the launch its new LifeDrive product. Designed for both business and entertainment use, the LifeDrive is built around a 4GB Hitachi hard disk drive (of which 3.85GB is available to the user). Files, photos and even movie content stored on the device can be viewed on its 320 x 480 pixel colour screen - in either portrait or landscape orientation. Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth allows users to surf the web on the LifeDrive (if in a wireless internet location), or work on e-mail when connected to a Bluetooth (and internet) enabled mobile phone. Business people who use their LifeDrive to carry crucial documents can configure the device to update such files automatically whenever they sync it to their PC. “LifeDrive mobile manager comes at an inflection point in the market, when people are ready for more advanced devices that meet their growing mobile-computing needs,” said Stuart Maughan palmOne Middle East general manager. “LifeDrive is versatile. For the business executive, it’s a personal mobile briefcase; for the photo enthusiast, it’s a camera companion.” According to PalmOne, the 4GB Hitachi Microdrive at the heart of the LifeDrive transfers data 30% percent faster than Hitachi’s previous Microdrive, allowing users can get to their music, pictures and data in super-quick time. With its 3.85GB of usable storage, PalmOne reckons its new drive can store: 1,200 office documents; 6,000 e-mails; 300 songs; 2.5 hours of video; or no less than 10,000 appointments. As far as Microsoft file formats are concerned, the LifeDrive provides native support for Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, as well as Adobe’s Acrobat Reader. PalmOne’s own LifeDrive smart file management system is also included, comprising four applications that have been created to help users work more effectively. ‘Folder Sync’ automatically updates selected files when syncing with a PC, ‘File Transfer’ lets the user drag-and-drop files from PC straight onto the LifeDrive mobile manager, ‘Drive Mode’ behaves like a USB drive to help transfer files to any PC or Macintosh; and ‘Files View’ ensures that the folder structures of transferred files remain intact. The LifeDrive will retail at $490 and looks set to occupy and interesting position in the market. In terms of its functionality, it sits somewhere between Epson’s new P2000 photo viewer, which can also carry data and music files, but slightly below the full-on media player and recorder functions of products such as Archos’ AV400.

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