Brighthand Reviews the palmOne LifeDrive Mobile Manager

Discussion in 'Palm' started by Ed Hardy, May 18, 2005.

  1. Ed Hardy

    Ed Hardy TabletPCReview Editor Staff Member

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  2. Ed Hardy

    Ed Hardy TabletPCReview Editor Staff Member

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    Shawn did a great job with his review, but there's a few additional things I wanted to add from my own personal experiences.

    This isn't going to be anything like a full review; I'm just going to make a few points.

    Size

    Shawn did a good job of comparing the LifeDrive to other models, but I wanted to add my own feelings.

    I generally carry my devices around in cargo pants, and the LifeDrive rides easily in one of the side pockets.

    However, it is less comfortable in a regular pants pocket, and makes a noticeable bulge.

    Fragility

    Many have expressed concerns about having a spinning hard drive inside of their handheld. It is hardly definitive, but I can say that I've knocked my LifeDrive off my desk onto a hardwood floor a couple of times and it's still going strong.

    Of course, I'm not sure if the hard drive was actually spinning at the point when it hit the ground. Part of the reason for the LifeDrive's occasional lag is the fact that the hard drive is shut down as much as possible. Not only does this save power, but it makes the device more shock resistant.

    And if it wasn't obvious, the hard drive is the reason why this model doesn't have a vibrating alarm.

    Windows 98

    My test machine is an old Windows 98 desktop. For the first time, the version of the Palm Desktop that comes with the LifeDrive absolutely will not work under Windows 98. I was unable to HotSync or use the LifeDrive manager. I suspect this is because of Windows 98's USB limitations.

    Battery Life

    In my test, the LifeDrive lasted 5 hours and 23 minutes.

    To test this model, I used it as my primary handheld while keeping track of how long it was being used with an application called BatteryGraph. While doing so, I occasionally made use of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, plus I played a few games, read some of the ebook I'm in the middle of, played some MP3s, watched about 20 minutes of video, and so on. This, I think, makes for a very realistic test. Much more realistic than the "Keep it on until it's dead" tests.

    Incidentally, the LifeDrive uses almost no power while it's off. You can safely leave it in a drawer for a week and it won't run out of power.

    Update: I also did a test in which I found out how long the LifeDrive's battery will last while continuously playing video. You can find it by scrolling down a couple of messages.

    Blazer

    Shawn had the crashing problems with Blazer that others have reported, but I didn't.

    Some have complained about how slow this browser is, so I did a quick comparison between it and Pocket IE on my Axim X50v.

    CNN
    Axim X50v: 25 sec.
    LifeDrive OM: 20 secs.
    LifeDrive WP: 21 secs.

    Yahoo
    Axim X50v: 8 sec.
    LifeDrive OM: 6 secs.
    LifeDrive WP: 8 secs.

    Brighthand
    Axim X50v: 12 sec.
    LifeDrive OM: 11 secs.
    LifeDrive WP: 12 secs.

    Of course, both are very slow compared to a PC. Even my elderly desktop loads CNN in 8 seconds.

    The Lag and the Cache

    Earlier, I talked extensively about my experiences with the LifeDrive and the lag that sometime occurs when launching applications, and I see no need to repeat myself here.

    To answer a question that came up earlier, I got a definitive answer directly from the developer of SharkCache. According to him, the LifeDrive has 10 MB of space for storing running applications.

    Speaking of SharkCache, this app allows you to specify 4 MB of apps to be permanently in cache, which means that there's never a lag when these are launched. He limited the amount to 4 MB because bad things happen if you totally fill the cache up without anything being able to be kicked out. If the lag really bothers you, you should check this app out.

    Conclusion

    I think this is the best device palmOne has made since the Tungsten T3. However, I'm still hoping there will be a Tungsten T6 next fall with Wi-Fi and no hard drive.
     
  3. AlanG

    AlanG Mobile Deity

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    Ed,

    Thanks for providing us with your addition information, specifically the battery and Blazer times. This is important information what we're not seeing in the printed reviews that appeared in the first and second weeks of availability of the LifeDrive.

    Alan G
     
  4. Ed Hardy

    Ed Hardy TabletPCReview Editor Staff Member

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    Battery Life While Watching Video

    As I think I made clear in my earlier comments, I'm not a fan of torture tests for battery life. In general, I don't find them to be very useful, as, in the real world, one rarely keeps a device on continuously until it dies.

    However, there is definitely an exception to this in the LifeDrive's case. If you are watching a movie, you're going to have the device on until the movie is over.

    In my testing, the LifeDrive lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes of continuous video playback.

    The good news: that's enough time to watch most movies. The bad news: don't bother loading up The Lord of the Rings Trilogy or Titanic for your next intercontinental airplane flight unless you have an external battery pack.

    The LED While Watching Video

    I hope someone comes up with a utility to stop the LED from blinking continuously while the movie is playing. It's really distracting, and if you're on a late-night flight it's going to irritate everyone for three rows around you.

    I don't need to be constantly reminded that data is being pulled off the hard drive, I know it is.

    I ended up having to keep my finger over the LED the whole time I was watching the movie. Maybe next time I'll bring along some Duck Tape.
     
  5. AlanG

    AlanG Mobile Deity

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    Does anyone know how long the battery will last in one of the new portable DVD players? I have a hard time believing that it would much long than 3 1/2 hours. By the way, does the FAA still allow you to bring AA batteries on a plane? :)

    Alan G
     
  6. tomoqv

    tomoqv Mobile Enthusiast

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    What about battery life when playing movies off an SD card? At least you don't have the blinking light, but I could imagine that the battery lasts a bit longer too. By the way, which player did you use?
     
  7. PatrickS

    PatrickS Gadget Magnet

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    Not sure about the rationale about why a vibrating alarm was omitted. Surely the hard drive could have been auto-parked as part of the vibrate protocol.
     
  8. sjweise

    sjweise Mobile Deity

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    Ed, you should try the video test while using FullPower to see how much longer the battery will last then. I think most portable dvd players will only last for about 3 hours themselves. i need to get out to a store and see this thing.
     
  9. AlanG

    AlanG Mobile Deity

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    Space may also have been a factor in the decision to leave the vibrate alarm out of the LifeDrive. The other thing to consider is the size of the LifeDrive. While it isn't massive by any strech of the imagination, it is larger than say a Zire 72 or a T5, so the likely hood of slipping this thing into your pants pocket is probably lower also.

    Alan G
     
  10. Dumbmut

    Dumbmut Guest

    I thinkspace was the biggest factor too. If you've ever looked into the inside of a TC, the vibe alarm takes up a pretty big chunk of space.
     
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