May 5, 2005 4:09 PM PDT
PalmOne hard-drive-based handheld on horizon
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The No. 1 handheld maker will introduce LifeDrive Mobile Manager on May 18, according to sources familiar with the company's plans. The $499 device will come with a 4GB Hitachi Microdrive and two flavors of wireless networking--Bluetooth and 802.11b Wi-Fi.
Combined with organizer features, the music-playing handheld could compete with Apple Computer's $199 4GB iPod Mini.
PalmOne is aiming to establish a new line of multimedia players featuring software for playing music and displaying pictures. LifeDrive will be a new line for PalmOne, but the hard drive may find its way into other products while carrying over the LifeDrive name, according to sources. Plans for such a move are still tentative.
PalmOne may be heading a new trend in the handheld industry with LifeDrive; Dell plans to release a hard-drive-based device in November, according to a source and enthusiast site Brighthand. Speculation on the features, dates and prices of the LifeDrive have been rampant on other fan sites such as PalmAddict and PalmInfocenter.
The new devices add to PalmOne's popular Treos--combination cell phone and organizer devices--and its traditional organizer lines, Zire and Tungsten. The company recently announced its $249 Tungsten E2 device, which comes with Bluetooth connectivity.
LifeDrive handhelds will be powered by a 416MHz Intel XScale PXA270 processor and come with a 320-by-480-pixel color screen. It will not use handheld OS developer PalmSource's latest operating system, Cobalt, which is aimed at wireless devices. Instead, it will feature Garnet. Garnet includes support for wireless connections such as Bluetooth. Files can be transferred from a PC to a LifeDrive via a USB connection.
The device will be able to play music but will not come with RealNetworks' music software, but instead will use Pocket Tunes and sync with Real's Rhapsody music service, according to sources. It will also come with software called Camera Companion for transferring photos to and from the device.
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