It seems yesterday's news is confirming the rumors of the new palmOne LifeDrive or Tungsten X (take your pick). CNET's News.com has a detailed article about the new hard-drive equipped device, Gizmodo and Engadget both have tidbits, though I actually saw the LifeDrive image first over at Janet Tokerud's blog (you go Janet!).
The price is supposedly $500, which I wonder, is that a bit high? Ok, so you're getting an iPod mini and a Tungsten C plus bluetooth and a big screen in one package, but can those features be added up to reach $500?
You can pick up an iPod photo for around the same price, but you also get 60 gigs of space. The iPod mini's attraction is the moderately small size (compared to the iPod) and large drive for the size at $200. I dunno, I can see how they arrived at the price, but I'm still feeling it ought to be $399. Well, since it's not yet released, I guess we'll see in 11 days.
One interesting tidbit is the question of size. I'm not talking about the width and height, but the thickness of the LifeDrive. By packing a high-res color 320x480 screen, WiFi, Bluetooth, 4GB hard drive and a Palm OS device in a single package, I have to believe there must be one big honkin' battery to sustain it all. Will that mean the device is the size of a T3 but twice as thick? If so, how will that effect its portability?
Palm OS Garnet? What about Cobalt?
Another interesting tidbit — the LifeDrive will apparently on Palm OS Garnet (Palm OS 5) rather than Cobalt (Palm OS 6). I think it's coming up on 2 years since Cobalt was announced, yet no Palm OS licensee has actually produced a device. I keep hearing rumbles, but no devices.
PalmSource's announcement to move toward Linux with their purchase of China Mobile soft (CMS) is a potential disincentive to go Cobalt, though I have the feeling the larger reason device makers are sticking with Garnet is simple — Garnet costs less to license and they've invested tons of cash to tweak Garnet to suit their needs.
Will it Sell?
So, do I think the LifeDrive will sell? I think from the specs point of view it seems nearly everything a power-user could want (except maybe a 2nd SD card slot and Cobalt). Visually it seems within the Tungsten line (business like but not wild). I think $400 would be a better starting point than $500, though I do realize palmOne will still get a bunch of early-adopters to buy the thing at retail before they likely drop the price $100 in 6-9 months.
But mainly it depends on how well the LifeDrive performs. If it has dreadful battery life, well, then it will have some trouble (especially when compared to an iPod). I'm not sure compelling features will save it, if the battery life is short, because the primary uses — WiFi, MP3 and probably movies and TV — will demand that the device lasts long enough to watch a movie, a few TV shows or a few hours of web surfing. After all, great features can't be used if it poops out after 30 minutes.
If the LifeDrive is too thick (because of all the stuff crammed into the case) I think it might lose as well. Being pocketable is a key to a device like an iPod or Palm (at least is is for me and many others). If this thing is annoying to carry in a jeans pocket, it's going to have trouble as well. I'm hoping palmOne has already thought of these issues.
What do you all think?