All Media In 'Palm' Of Your Hand

Palm LifeDrive
If you work for a company, you might be able to get your boss to buy you a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) that helps keep track of appointments, phone numbers and addresses and other important business data. If you're self-employed, you could easily justify writing off such an investment on your tax return. But would your boss or the IRS let you get away with expensing a device designed to watch videos, listen to music and display your personal photographs?

I'm no tax or business ethics expert, but it strikes me that you might get away with it, if that entertainment device also happened to be a full-featured PDA.

That's exactly what you get with Palm's new LifeDrive — a new category in handheld products that combines all the traditional features of a Palm PDA with some new ways to view and listen to your personal entertainment.

Click here to listen to Larry's interview with Stephane Maes, palmOne's director of product marketing.

Though this is the first Palm optimized for video and audio, it's not the first PDA capable of playing multimedia nor is it the first hybrid from Palm.

The Palm Treo 650 — a combination PDA and cellular phone — has done quite well because it doesn't force users into too many compromises. While the rectangular device isn't the perfect shape and size for a cell phone, it's close enough and the company made no compromises when it comes to PDA functions. Also, unlike many Palm PDAs, it has a small built-in alphanumeric keyboard. It's not exactly heaven for touch typists but — for many — it beats having to use a stylus to handwrite on the screen. Of course, you can do that if you want, but personally I think the keyboard was a great addition.

Having ventured into phones, Palm is now turning its attention to entertainment. The new Palm LifeDrive mobile manager may look like a slightly oversized PDA, but it can also play music, display photos and even show movies.

What's more, because it is equipped with both WiFi and Bluetooth wireless communications, it can also be used to access the Internet from any WiFi hotspot or — in combination with a Bluetooth cellular phone — from virtually anywhere. WiFi is the technology that lets you access the Internet from "hotspots" which generally extend about 200 feet from an access point. Bluetooth allows devices to communicate if they're within a few feet of each other. If you have a Bluetooth enabled LifeDrive in your hand and a Bluetooth enabled cell phone in your pocket, the LifeDrive can access the Internet via the cell phone.