Palm LifeDrive Chronicles: Ch 3 - A Versatile Photog's Assistant

by Derrick Story

The LifeDrive packs a lot of punch as a photo assistant.

One of my favorite features is using the spacious 320x480 Transflective TFT color touchscreen for sharing just-captured photos with friends and family. Just insert card and launch the bundled Media app to view the images full screen. You can display them as a slideshow too, and its much more impressive than on your camera's tiny 2" LCD.

But viewing photos is only the beginning. The LifeDrive's SD card slot plays nicely with the built-in 4 GB hard drive and the USB 2 connector.

One of its improvements over older Palm devices is the "direct connection" your computer. You activate "Drive Mode" on the LifeDrive, then connect the device to your PC or Mac via the cable. After a few seconds, both the hard drive and the SD card appear on your desktop as mounted drives. So you no longer have to HotSync to transfer pictures back and forth. Simply drag and drop from your computer to the LifeDrive, or vice versa.

When a computer isn't available, you can also use the free space on your LifeDrive to upload pictures so you can erase the card and continue shooting. When you do return to your computer, connect the LifeDrive and activate Drive Mode enabling you to transfer those stored images. If you use a Mac, iPhoto recognizes the LifeDrive immediately and asks if you want to copy the images (in the DCIM folder) to iPhoto. Quite nice.

But even if you don't want to store pictures on the Palm itself, Drive Mode is still handy. Anytime that the LifeDrive is connected to your computer, you can remove the memory card from your camera and insert it into the Palm's SD slot. The card appears on the computer desktop and is recognized by imaging apps such as iPhoto. That means you can use the LifeDrive as a card reader for your PC, even if you aren't interested in copying the files to the Palm itself.

What's really hip is sending pictures you've just captured wirelessly to friends using the built-in WiFi and Gmail. In my last installment I touted the virtues of using Gmail on the LifeDrive instead of POP. You can extend this capability further by adding photo attachments to your letters and shooting them over the Internet via any WiFi hotspot. It only took Gmail a matter of seconds to send my full size 4-megapixel photo to a friend miles away. This is truly useful (and geeky).

In my own everyday use, I've found myself using the LifeDrive more as a photo viewer and picture sender rather than as a storage device, although it's nice to have the option. And since it's USB 2 enabled, I use it often as a card reader too.

The LifeDrive fits nicely in my camera bag right alongside my other valuable accessories. Plus it provides entertainment during downtime while I'm waiting for a bride to get ready, or for the sun to reach the right angle.

The LifeDrive Chronicles

Ch 1 - Internet Radio

Ch 2 - Gmail Instead of POP

Ch 3 - A Versatile Photog's Assistant

Ch 4 - The Perfect BT Phone Companion

Ch 5 - Audio Shuttle and Player