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palmOne LifeDrive

This new Palm OS gizmo is more than a simple PDA. The LifeDrive contains a 4GB hard drive that lets it store and transport PC files, as well as play digital audio and video files. To that end, palmOne doesn't call the LifeDrive a PDA, instead opting for the “Mobile Manager” moniker. Whatever you call it, it's a pretty impressive device.

Let's dispense with all the specs first. You get a 4G MicroDrive for storage, a big 320 × 480 pixel color display, built-in 802.11b WiFi and Bluetooth wireless, an SD/MMC expansion slot, and built-in voice recorder with microphone. It runs the Palm OS 5.4 (“Garnet”) operating system, has 64MB RAM, and is powered by a 416MHz Intel XScale processor, which makes it every bit as powerful as competing Pocket PCs.

What makes the LifeDrive stand out from the average PDA is it's hard disk. The LifeDrive's 4GB drive is big enough to hold thousands of Word documents, 1,200 PowerPoint presentations, 1,000 digital photos, 2 1/2 hours of digital video, and such. File management is a drag and drop affair, with selected files easily synced to your PC. The LifeDrive has built-in support for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Adobe Acrobat files; it also syncs with Microsoft Outlook.

Another unique feature is the LifeDrive's capability as a digital media player. The LifeDrive's hard drive is the same size as the one in an iPod Mini, so there's plenty of storage for MP3 and WMA files—as well as an audio out jack to connect your earphones. The big color screen makes the LifeDrive a decent portable video player, as well, so you're all set for both music and movie playback.

So if you want one unit that can function as a PDA, portable audio player, portable video player, and wireless Internet access device, the LifeDrive does the job—it does all the jobs, actually. The only thing it doesn't do is function as a cell phone, but hey, you can't have everything!

Model: LifeDrive Manufacturer: palmOne (www.palmone.com) Operating system: Palm OS 5.4 Display: 320 × 480 Dimensions: 4.76'' (h) × 2.87'' (w) × 0.74'' (d) Weight: 6.8 oz. Price: $499

palmOne Tungsten T5

If you don't want to splurge for the hard drive-enabled LifeDrive, the Tungsten T5 is an equally full-featured Palm OS PDA. It uses the same extra-large 320 × 480 display as the LifeDrive, which you can view in either portrait or landscape mode—just turn the T5 on its side, and the screen rotates into landscape mode. You also get built-in Bluetooth capability and an astounding 256MB memory—a lot of PDA for your money.

Model: Tungsten T5 Manufacturer: palmOne (www.palmone.com) Operating system: Palm OS 5.4 Display: 320 × 480 Dimensions: 4.76'' (h) × 3.08'' (w) × 0.61'' (d) Weight: 5.1 oz. Price: $399

palmOne Zire 72

Tungsten is palmOne's business line; Zire models are aimed at the general consumer market, which means they're a little hipper and more stylish. Case in point: the Zire 72, a feature-packed PDA in a cool blue, rubberized case. The Zire 72's entertainment focus is evident from the built-in 1.2-megapixel digital camera that lets you shoot photos and video clips. You can also record voice memos and play digital audio files; Bluetooth wireless connectivity is built-in.

Model: Zire 72 Manufacturer: palmOne (www.palmone.com) Operating system: Palm OS 5.2.8 Display: 320 × 320 Dimensions: 4.6'' (h) × 2.95'' (w) × 0.67'' (d) Weight: 4.8 oz. Price: $299

Dell Axim X50v

If a Pocket PC is what you want, Dell's Axim X50v is one fine PDA. First off, you get a beautiful 3.7'' color screen, really big and sharp with 640 × 480 resolution—twice that of most handhelds. Second, you get both WiFi and Bluetooth wireless built-in, so you can connect to WiFi hotspots and sync up with Bluetooth accessories. Third, it just looks cool; this is one of the most stylish PDAs on the market today.

Model: Axim X50v Manufacturer: Dell (www.dell.com) Operating system: Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition Display: 640 × 480 Dimensions: 4.7'' (h) × 2.9'' (w) × 0.7'' (d) Weight: 6.2 oz. Price: $424

HP iPaq h4350

The iPaq h4350 is a full-featured model with a miniature QWERTY keyboard at the bottom of the unit, which makes entering data a snap. (Even cooler, the keys have blue backlighting for typing in the dark!) You also get dual WiFi and Bluetooth wireless, 64MB memory, and a nice 3.5'' color display. Naturally, it runs all the standard Pocket PC applications, and lets you stay in touch at any public WiFi hotspot.

Model: iPaq h4350 Manufacturer: HP (www.hp.com) Operating system: Windows Mobile 2003 Premium Edition Display: 240 × 320 Dimensions: 5.4'' (h) × 2.9'' (w) × 0.6'' (d) Weight: 5.8 oz. Price: $449

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