Below the LCD, you'll find four ample shortcut keys to Home, Files, Media, and one unassigned application. They can be customized to open different applications, and they surround a five-way navigation toggle with a center Select button. All the controls are easy to manipulate, but you have to firmly press the OK key square in the middle; otherwise, it acts like one of the directional keys. On the left spine, you'll find a voice recorder button and a very handy key that lets you switch between Portrait and Landscape modes. The top of the LifeDrive is home to the SDIO/MMC expansion slot, the power/hold switch, and the infrared port, while the 3.5mm audio jack (which accepts Walkman-style headphones), the multiconnector, and the power adapter connection sit at the bottom. We found the headphone jack's placement to be odd, but when we asked PalmOne about this, the company said it simply ran out of room. It's definitely not a deal breaker, just a minor design quirk.
Extra goodies packaged with the PalmOne LifeDrive are kept to a minimum. You get a protective sleeve, an AC adapter, user guides and installation CDs, and a USB sync cable with PalmOne's multiconnector, which allows for one-touch HotSync operations. The LifeDrive is also PalmOne's first device to support USB 2.0. You can also purchase optional accessories from PalmOne, including a desktop cradle ($50), a travel charger ($30), and the company's Universal Wireless keyboard ($70).The PalmOne LifeDrive is filled to the brim with features, and topping the list, of course, is the integrated 4GB Hitachi hard drive. It's the same microdrive as those found in today's MP3 players and digital cameras. While this all sounds impressive, what does it actually mean for you? In short, there's ample room for all your data storage needs. Of the 4GB of available memory, 3.85GB is user accessible. This allows you to carry approximately 1,200 Office documents, 6,000 e-mails, 10,000 appointments, and 10,000 contacts, and on the multimedia side, 300 songs (1,000 songs if used solely as a music device), 1,000 photos, and 2.5 hours of video. Not too shabby, right? But wait, there's more. As with the Tungsten T5, you can use the LifeDrive as a USB drive. Just switch to Drive mode and connect the PDA to your PC via the USB cable. All of this functionality is nicely complemented by the device's easy drag-and-drop transfer method and the LifeDrive's Smart File Management, which lets you keep an entire folder's organization and structure, convert photos and videos to formats best suited for the LifeDrive, and select files that you want automatically updated whenever you sync with your computer. In our tests, we moved documents, music, and whole folders between our PC and the device with no problem.
The hard drive is certainly big news, but we're equally as thrilled to see that PalmOne finally got the message and integrated Wi-Fi into the LifeDrive, in addition to Bluetooth. Even better, both features are easy to use (you can instantly access either via the taskbar at the bottom of the screen) and can be operated simultaneously. Under Wi-Fi Preferences, you can set the time for clocking out, check signal strength, and add VPN clients and WEP encryption for added security. Meanwhile, the Bluetooth utility lets you set up Bluetooth-enabled devices, from phones to PCs to LANs, for all your wireless connectivity needs.