Is LifeDrive Worth the Price?


PalmOne has finally announced that it is going to release LifeDrive, now renamed, Mobile Manager within a month. Great news, especially if you didn’t know that it was coming. Basically it is a hard drive with Palm OS that does a bunch of things – like store information, music, documents and all sorts of neat stuff. Engadget has said that it could have 4GB of hard drive space, and cost as much as $500. Sounds like an interesting idea, but is it worth the price. How does it compare with other best selling CE devices?

  • Apple iPod Mini costs $200, no connectivity.
  • SonyPSP costs $249.00 with mere 32 mega of disk storage and has wireless connectivity via WiFi
  • Palm Tungsten T5 costs $399, has 256 MB built in, and has bluetooth connectivity.
  • Palm LifeDrive, expected to cost $500 has 4 GB of capacity, can play music, store video etc, has bluetooth and wifi capability
  • Siemens SX 66 (or some equivalent clone) $599, 64 megs storage, bluetooth, wifi, cellular and WAN Connectivity
  • Treo 650 costs $599 and has 64 Megs memory, bluetooth and cellular & WAN connectivity

Here is what I think: unless you are iconic brand, you cannot really charge too much of a premium for a device. People are willing to pay more for connectivity than storage capacity or multiple functionality. Palm LifeDrive could send Tungsten to the tombs faster than the company realizes. Clearly, PDA functionality cannot command a premium – phone companies are giving it away. So you think a wifi enabled, bluetooth-featuring 4 GB hard drive is worth paying $500? What do you guys think? Will this be a hit or a miss for PalmOne?


Kelly Mills

I’ve been almost completely satisfied with my lifedrive. The one exception is that the IR keyboard performs poorly. My main reason for buying the lifedrive was to play around with developing java aps for J2ME. I’ve been very pleased with developer support provided by PalmSource.

I’m plesantly surprised by how useful the built in aps are. Storage capacity is sufficient for my needs, especially with a 1G SD card.


Agreed. I’m totally happy with my lifedrive. Plus, add a 1GB or 2GB SD Card and you’ve got even more storage. I just put the Wikipedia on my lifedrive, along with 10 rugby matches (Xvid, 1.6 hours each, around 200MB each) and a whole load of MP3s.

And while I originally didn’t think I’d need it, I hopped on the Lifedrive Manager bandwagon and now synch several folders with my primary PC. It even keeps my audio playlist in order for me.

Amazing. Once I get the wireless keyboard for it, I won’t need a laptop when I go on trips.

I have only 2 gripes:

1) Battery life during wifi. I wish they could have extended battery life.

2) Screen resolution. 480×640 on the Lifedrive would be so sweet I nearly wet myself thinking about it.

Ah well, time to Wi-Fi/VPN to my home network and hotsync….

rick mantle

I recently purchased the Lifedrive. All of the negatives about this device have been overblown.
I have 2 movies 2 1/2 hours each taking up 500 megs on the Lifedrive. I have 50 textbooks taking up 300 megs on the Lifedrive. As for pictures, I have about 600 megs of pictures and 250 songs in variable bit rate mp3. I surf the web daily, listen to podcasts for about an hour a day and live webcasts over lan.

I sometimes plug the machine into an electrical outlet to preserve battery life, but listening to mp3’s I could do all day without any loss in total battery life. Yes, it’s true that there is battery burn with surfing the web, but not if you use the bluetooth option. It takes up less power.

As for calculations, this is the best device I have ever owned. I am now in awe of how I ever lived without it.

This is a Strong Buy.

Rick Mantle.

Jesse Kopelman

I’m with David, 4GB is just too small. The whole reason I ruled out the iPod mini from the get go was the HD was way too small. I have more audio files already than fit on the 20GB iPod I got 6 months ago . . .

Lou M

Considering that the Tungsten E2 had a $50 price increase over the Tungsten E, it’s clear Palm doesn’t know what it’s doing. After 18 months of development, you’d think the minimal new features in the E2 would keep the price the same or even slightly lower. Nope. Palm increased the price. And anyone’s surprised they were just overtaken by Blackberry?

C’mon. Even Apple (the king of high-priced tools) knows that new models should both add features and reduce prices for new models. Look at the iPods. Features go up, prices go down or at least stay the same.

David Warner

If I were to carry this LifeDrive around, it would have to be in conjunction with a Bluetooth phone, so that I could use the email/web options anywhere. It would also have to replace my MP3 player, since I don’t like carrying around more than 2 gadgets.

4GB of space to hold photos, MP3s, videos and MS Office docs? That seems awfully cramped to me. If it were 10 or 20GB, I could see it, but we have to wait at least 2 years for Hitachi to get perpendicular enough to give us a 20GB microdrive. (Will LifeDrive have an output-to-TV option, like the Archos PMA400? It should.)

Battery life will be an issue as well, especially for anyone using this as an email and web device on top of MP3 playback. Will it get through a full day, or will people be running out of juice before 5:00 PM?

Personally, I think I’d rather have the Treo 650.


What Palm Mobile Manager “PDA”, HTC Universal “Smartphone”,
Archos PMA “Multimedia Device” or “OQO” Ultra PC” have in common ?

Actually they try to invent the future of “mainstream computing”, the next iteration after Mainframe, Mini-comp and PC.
An object that will have all the PC power needed for 90% of usage and all the personalization and mobility of a Mobile Phone.

Three camps are fighting :
1) PC Boyz (Sony, OQO…) scale down
2) Multimedia/PDA Boyz (Palm, iPod, Archos) scale around
3) Mobile Phone Boyz (Nokia, Vodafone, DoCoMo) scale up

Two hardware camps are fighting :
1) ARM-based one from Mobile
2) x86-based one from PC

Three software camps are here :
1) Miocrosoft WinXP and WinMobile + .NET
2) Linux + Palm, Trolltech or whatever (Java)
3) Symbian + Series 60, UIQ or whatever (Java)

Moore’s law, power and competition will drive this platform to everyone’s hand in a near future except from Hardcore gamers and audio/video editors, much like PC-based machines have reduced Mainframe to hardcore science projects.

Three questions stays :
1) Who will win the most between all the camps
2) Which will be the “price tag” for the mainstream ? (Apple Lisa : 10000$ = bad, Apple MAC : 3000$ = good)
3) Which will be the “dominant design” : tablet ? Sliders ? 3.5” ? 5” ?

What are you thinking about theses questions ?

Om Malik


thanks for making that excellent point. the simplification of the product line, and focus on two distinct parts of the market could actually be the smart thing to do for the company – Zire for PDA and Treo for Connected Devices


I think Palm should just have two lines, a Treo and Zire line. If they think the 650 is good enough as is, they are fooling themselves and sitting still is what is going to kill them.

The Zires should be basic $100 max PDAs and the Treo needs high-speed wireless/802.11g/Bluetooth and any other kind of connection you can imagine. Make it a clamshell and Palm would sell millions of them, but they aren’t really interested in making money.

Om Malik

I think the more relalistic price is about $250, and that’s when people start buying this little puppy as an add-on to their digital lifestyles existing devices


PalmOne finally got some real solid PDA with all wireless and reasonably good price. But, the PDA market is so crowded, anything more than $400 will definitely have tough time. Though PalmOne might be getting good profits with this LifeDrive at $500, they will be selling more are more in volumes if the price were to be set at $400.


While I applaud Palm for finally developing something “new”, I think this one misses the mark. In a world where people can carry around 1GB storage for less than $100, this is all about form factor/connectivity. On the form factor side, you can’t be all things to all people so consumers now have an inferior MP3 device, but perhaps an acceptable video (albeit low storage for vid) device.

Time will tell – connectivity is great for the desktop environment, I’m less clear how fantastic it will be on a stand-alone basis. I’m betting they won’t sell more than 500k before EOY 2006, and maybe never.

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