ISSUE 596: Currentz- March 27 2001
Visor modules add amazing functions
Handsprings' hand-held computer becomes even more
While sales of big computers stagnate, sales of
handheld devices continue to soar. Models by Palm make up about
60 per cent of the market, but Palm-compatible Handspring
Visors are No. 2, with about 26 per cent of sales.
Unlike standard Palms, all Visors sport a unique
Springboard expansion slot. As a result, there has been an explosion of
Visor add-ons. Among more than 40 available are:
Just point and click
Weighing in around one ounce, Ideo's $300 Eyemodule2
is a digital still and video camera. Like other Springboard modules,
when you plug it in, its software magically pops up on the Visor's
menu. Batteries are not included... or needed. It runs off the Visor's
The Visor's screen acts as a large viewfinder: just
point and click. Pictures are stored in full-colour, even on a black
and white Visor, in your choice of VGA size (640x480 pixels) or smaller
Palm-sized (160x160 pixels). On my 8-MB Visor, I had room to store
about 35 large pictures or several hundred of the little ones.
Alternatively, you can take five-second video clips.
The pictures and video clips are transferred to your
main PC or Mac in standard file formats when the Visor is connected.
Very slick. (www.ideo.com)
Always know where you are
GPS (geographic positioning system) uses satellites to
keep track of your position. Geodiscovery's $450 Geode is one
of several modules that put this capability in your pocket, on your
Visor. It uses the Visor's power to locate you on the map and tie you
into guidebooks. Slots on the Geode let you expand it, adding up to 64
MB of maps, applications and content (www.geodiscovery.com). Or
if you don't need to rely on satellites, guidebook publisher Lonely
Planet's Citysync comes preloaded with guides to New York City,
Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles (www.citysync.com). $75.
And have some tunes while you're there
If you're a Visor owner who's been glancing at digital
MP3 players, maybe you should pop Innogear's $390 Minijam into
your Visor. Assemble up to two hours' worth of MP3 music on your
computer and shoot it into your Visor.
Since the Visor's built-in memory would never hold
that much music, the Minijam adds from 32 to 128 MB of extra RAM, which
can also be used to view pictures, store e-books, back-up data or
Make that sale, too
Don't bother toting your notebook. Your pocket-sized
Visor and Presenter-to-Go ($450) by Margi Systems (www.margi.com)
lets you connect to a digital projector or computer monitor and present
Powerpoint presentations, Excel, Word or HTML documents. There's even a
remote control. You'll still have to create the presentation or
document on a full-sized computer, but now you can leave it behind when
you make your pitch.
And don't forget to phone Mom
Visor maker Handspring has its own line of Springboard
modules. Visorphone (about $750) weds the handheld to a GSM cell phone
(the system used locally by Microcell/Fido). While the
brick-shape of the Visor is a bit awkward to hold as a phone, it comes
with hands-free earphone.
The phone can make use of phone numbers stored in the
Visor's address book. And compared to the micro-screen on a standard
cell phone, the Visor's mini-screen is positively spacious. The result
is a far better platform for wireless Internet, whether e-mail or
browsing the Web.
At least that's the promise. I'm still waiting for
these to make it across the border.