Last week I played with a PalmOne LifeDrive at CompUSA and I’ve gotta say that it’s a nice little device. The screen resolution is definitely a little nicer than budget devices, but at 320×480 isn’t exactly bleeding edge. The design is quite pleasing too; it almost has the feel of a G5 desktop. I also like the ability of switching between portrait and desktop mode quickly. I can do that on my Dell Axim X30 but it’s definitely not as quick as on the LifeDrive. Landscape mode is also perfect for the included Blazer browser, which when coupled with bluetooth or Wi-Fi makes for a good pocket-sized browser. Combine all that with a 4 gig microdrive and you’ve got a pretty nice little platform.
It’s a pretty nice little platform, but is it worth $500? I don’t think so. If you’re really worried about hauling around a bunch of data in your pocket, $500 can get you a 60 gig iPod photo and $50 to spare or a 20 gig Archos AV420. Granted neither of those offer PIM functions, but I’m not sure how compelling PIM + 4 gigs to spare is. I was also a little bummed at how pokey the responsiveness on the LifeDrive was. Click something, wait just a little bit, and there it is. I know that the OS doesn’t run from the MicroDrive but accessing photos and stuff requires a bit of drive spinning. It’s not that the LifeDrive felt slow when accessing photos or media, it felt a bit slow in general, even when doing something that didn’t involve the MicroDrive at all.
Another thing that got me is that it looks like the battery is internal and not user replacable. Having been screwed by a CompUSA warranty and the flaky battery on the Tungsten E, I don’t think I would ever consider buying a Palm device without a user replacable battery.
I could be wrong, Palm could have a big hit on their hands with the LifeDrive, but my guess is that they’ll have to drop the price point a hundred bucks or so before they really start moving units.