InfiniFile for Palm OS

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, December 2005
Published by: OnVerge Labs
Requires: Windows Me, 2000 or XP; WiFi or Bluetooth enabled Palm PDA; WiFi or Bluetooth connection to a Windows network
MSRP: $39.95

InfiniFile is designed to provide wireless access to audio and video files, Palm OS programs and related data stored on a PC. InfiniFile uses the WiFi or Bluetooth network connection built into many Palm OS PDAs to gain access to your PC through a wireless computer or network connection. You can use popular media player software with InfiniFile to access any file from an audio or video library on a server PC, instantly. Rather than having to download to the handheld device, InfiniFile streams data in real-time from the server PC. Games, programs and databases can all be stored on your PC or anywhere on your network.

We tried InfiniFile on two Palm OS handhelds: a Sony Clie TH55 and a Palm Tungsten C. Both PDAs are in daily use as general data, reference and web access tools. The software installs a program and access folder on the PC as well as separate configuration and launch utilities on the handheld. There's no Mac OS X support as of this writing. The PC program component seems to do a good job of detecting the correct IP address for connection, which means that configuring the handheld component is quite easy. We installed InfiniFile on six different PCs accessing three different networks and we didn't encounter any problems throughout the process.

Whether or not you have a use for InfiniFile is often the biggest question for most of the potential users we talked to during the review period. Once we explained InfiniFile's streaming media capabilities, people became very interested however, but the novelty quickly began to wear off in direct proportion to the at which PDA batteries ran down during continuous WiFi access over forth or fifty minutes of music listening. On the other hand, pulling documents at will off a local network for use on the fly in various readers managed to kindle some longer lasting interest in InfiniFile, and in almost any case sure beats the heck out of having to go back to home base in order to HotSync.

One of the nifty program features we discovered is that you can set up InfiniFile see your entire PC hard drive if you want, or limit the program to the InfiniFolder (folder) on the hard drive. The InfiniFolder appears as an expansion card in most of your Palm OS programs, and there are quite a few Palm OS programs that you can place in the folder which then show up in your launcher on the handheld.

We didn't find any obvious compatibility problems with the range of software we tried during the review period. All of the media players—Busker, Kinoma, Real, PocketTunes, etc.—worked without a problems and stream multimedia and audio music files quite smoothly. To the Palm programs running on the handheld or smartphone, InfiniFile looks just like an additional multi-gigabyte memory card.

Cons: Initial configuration is a bit difficult—I couldn't get a network connection of any kind. But I discovered my own error and got everything up and running on my home network and on my small office network. The user interface is sufficient for the purpose at hand, but it's not particularly intuitive. On the multimedia side of things, I'm hesitant about draining my battery in order to stream something via Wi-Fi when I can simply use Wi-Fi to quickly transfer the media file to my memory card. To keep a wireless connection active on a Sony TH55 for the duration of a typical movie, I'd have to plug in the PDA charger—not very convenient. No Palm Tungsten 5 support, and worst of all, no Treo 600/650 support; WiFi and Bluetooth only.

Pros: Despite the battery concerns, if you want to watch or listen to a media file without deleting anything from your device storage card, InfiniFile does the job well. If you've got a typical home or small office network, InfiniFile is the ideal program to enable enormous amounts of data storage and transfer between your Palm OS handheld and a PC. Anything which requires access to a database that is simply too large for storage on your device is fair game for InfiniFile. The overarching value of InfiniFile for people who have to use the storage card slot for a WiFi or Bluetooth card can't be overstated in situations where extra information and media files are needed or wanted. In such situations, InfiniFile neatly steps around the lack of storage space by providing direct access to files stored on the PC or network. I wonder if Palm is considering licensing InfiniFile from OnVerge Labs for inclusion in the OS 6 architecture? Interesting and useful program. Recommended.

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