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Editorial on the LifeDrive and Sony Clie NZ90

For those readers tired of hearing only Treo-centric news, a nice editorial piece on 1src brings us back to those heady days of 2003 and 2005. ...the era when pocket-swelling "multimedia" PDAs reigned supreme! Namely, Palm's LifeDrive and Sony's NZ90. These two infamous models were two of the bulkiest, most power-hungry devices ever to run the Palm OS and generally considered enormous disasters by both critics and casual handheld users alike.

Alan's piece does a good job of listing the numerous shortcomings of both devices, especially the always contentious point about available RAM (only a 32mb SDRAM chip atop a slow 4gb Microdrive on the LifeDrive and a mere ~11mb free on the Clie) how a high MSRP was the final deathblow to both of those already severaly compromised handhelds. While Alan claims hindsight is 20/20, many users (especially in the case of the LifeDrive-this author and former LifeDrive owner included) thought the LifeDrive a superb concept that was hobbled by Palm's stingy RAM allocation and the presence of a mechanical microdrive. And Sony's clamshell Clie line could be a very early preview of what many are expecting next from Jeff Hawkins and Palm in regards to the mythical "Foleo" product; quite possibly a "FOLding TrEO".

Sony Clie NZ90Sony's NZ90, while being horribly overpriced at $800 MSRP, was a product released during the height of Sony's handheld and CE hubris. Had Sony waited a bit longer and/or worked more closely with Palm and PalmSource, it could have stuffed 128mb of RAM into the NZ90 and enjoyed native screen rotation supported within the OS. The crippled CompactFlash slot and usual set of Memory Stick and proprietary media formats were Sony's fault alone and also attributable to Sony arrogantly insisting on doing things "their" way.

Grassi's piece concludes with a return to the present, as legions of frustrated Treo 700p users sit and anxiously await a ROM update from Palm. Alan goes on to give the painful reminder of how so many devices, many of them unsurprisingly running some variant of Palm OS 5.x, are hastily rushed to market in order to meet a release deadline or important shopping season.

This is definitely an article worth reading and contemplating this weekend and we await (and hope for) the possible release of the 700p update in the next few weeks.

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Dinosaurs we have seen

philpalm @ 4/7/2007 3:56:44 PM # Q
Yes as we look back at these past creatures, we wonder if evolution will bring better creatures. Creatures with better browsers or multitasking.

Will the KISS(Keep it simple stupid) principle continue to work, or will another type of solution like duo/multi cores, revamping OS or remote storage solutions work better for handhelds?

Sony has tried multi-slotted card memory, maybe this is a worthwhile solution for future handhelds? Maybe the Handspring solution of being able to add more devices to the handheld should return.

Maybe a pda/camera hybrid should be introduced? Large and heavy cameras is a plus because then they are more easily held steady. However maybe the PDA dinosaur era is over and they will all become extinct.

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Regarding the LifeDrive...

Galley_SimRacer @ 4/8/2007 8:32:44 AM # Q
"It was the NVFS that killed the beast...'
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It may yet be resurrected

palmdoc88 @ 4/9/2007 5:56:07 AM # Q
I think the lifedrive should have had a camera builtin.
Now forget about the builtin HD, just bundle it with a 4GB SD card which is cheap nowadays, put in a 5 MP camera.
You then have a better performing multimedia PDA.

http://palmdoc.net
RE: It may yet be resurrected
atrizzah @ 4/9/2007 11:30:12 AM # Q
What in the world are you going to do with 5MP-sized shite pictures? If you want better pictures, buy a camera.

The internal hard drive is not the problem, the problem was that 4GB was way too small even when the LifeDrive was first announced. Multiply that by 10, and then you start to have a compelling device.

The LifeDrive is aimed at a market that still hasn't been conquered. The question is whether Palm has the guts to take a risk and go for it. My guess is "no", since they've shown time and time again that they're too conservative to truly push the boundaries. Not to mention that Palm still lacks a true multimedia OS, which is going to be necessary to make a compelling device. If Palm could ever apply the Zen concept to multimedia, the way that Apple has done with its products, there would be hope for the future.

I remain skeptical...

Peace Out
Alan

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Receipe for success

hkklife @ 4/9/2007 1:19:26 PM # Q
I think that evetually someone (Apple in the next-gen iPod?) will release a portable media player with an 80gb+ HD and a reasonable set of PIM capabilities. Basically, something no larger than a Creative Zen Vision W, with at least 60gb or 80gb of storage, and roughly the same PIM capabilities as a basic Zire would be a true category killer.

I could care less about a camera on a PDA, especially one that is media-oriented like the LD was supposed to be. Even whe the LD launched nearly 2 years ago, I said the compromises entailed with a fragile hard drive inside a PDA became ONLY worthwhile with a 20gb or larger hard drive. Aything less than that is better done with flash memory, certaily a pitiful capacity like 4gb.

The final dealbreaker for the LD was Palm giving it only a small 32mb SDRAM memory buffer instead of 64mb+. Thus, the constant HD thrasing and decreased battery life.

Palm could have really quite easily released a LD2 with a slim formfactor, 64mb or 128mb of "Real Ram" and a 4gb internal flash storage.

But as soon as I saw how bad the LD was and how well the Treo 650 was selling back in '05, I knew the writing was on the wall for Palm's PDA line.


Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Treo 700P

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