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The best thing about the Handspring Visor is its portability. The trouble is that, when it’s away from a desktop computer, connectivity disappears. Email and the Web are both vital to people who are away from the office for any length of time. Until now, there was little you could do, except haul a PowerBook around to sync with at the hotel. Hardly the most elegant solution for such an elegant computer. Now, the SpringPort Modem from Xircom has come to the rescue.
It uses the Springboard slot on the back the Handspring Visor. It’s a bit like the slot on the back of a GameBoy, and the Springboard slot has an increasing number of modules to expand the functionality of the Visor.
As with all Springboard modules, the software needed to drive it is held on the modem. When the SpringPort is plugged into the Visor, the software appears on the screen. When you pull the modem out, the software disappears.
There are five pieces of software loaded with the modem and three utilities for setting up the modem, as well as two commercial packages. MultiMail is a simple package that sends and receives email – it isn’t as fully featured as Outlook Express, but it does the job well, considering the memory restrictions. You can even send and receive attachments.
When you remove the modem, your email disappears until you plug it back in, because SpringPort has 256K of memory onboard. However, there’s a file-mover application for moving the software and email to the Visor if you want to. The other Internet application is AvantGo.
This software is one of the killer-apps for the Visor. It allows you to download any Web page to read off-line. You can choose from a selection of AvantGo-formatted channels, or point AvantGo at your favourite Web-site to make it a channel.
The only drawback with the SpringPort is its size. It carries three AAA batteries to conserve the Visor power, and it adds to the bulk of the package.
Macworld’s buying advice
Even considering the bulk of the SpringBoard Modem, its functionality far outweighs any drawbacks. It keeps you in contact with the world, which is bloody good for £120.