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The Handspring Visor range of Palm OS personal digital assistants (PDAs) has turned out to be an amazingly successful venture. People love the expandability of the SpringBoard port on the back. It allows you to turn your Palm into a telephone (coming soon), a GPS unit, a camera or any number of other nifty gadgets. However, if you compare the Visor to its main competitor, the Palm, it’s much bigger. By comparison, the Visor looks like an ‘80s mobile phone – but not any longer. Now Handspring can compete with Palm, with the latest addition to its range, the Visor Edge.
The Edge is just 11mm thick and comes in a metal case available in three colours. You can choose from anodized red or blue, but if you want it to match your Titanium PowerBook G4, you should choose the silver version.
People, on the whole, loved the look and feel of the Edge, but there was some concern that the metal cover seemed a bit wobbly. However, the cover is not a big deal, as it’s designed to be removable and it’s secure when it’s closed. People already using Visors were mostly concerned about the apparent lack of SpringPort. After all, it’s one of the best reasons for choosing the Visor.
Rest assured, the SpringPort hasn’t been made redundant – just downsized. It’s now used only when you need to expand the capabilities of the Edge. All you do is slip off the cover and attach the – now external – SpringPort. Then you’ll be able to attach any expansion module. When you’re finished, slip off your SpringPort and re-attach the cover.
The actual working of the Visor is mostly unchanged. There are a couple of enhancements, such as the new silent alarm. Instead of interrupting meetings with a rude beep, now the alarm will flash the light on the power button.
Another enhancement is the address lookup. Previously, if you needed a number in a hurry, you’d have to get your stylus out. Now contact details can be accessed using the Edge’s buttons.
Although this is a very desirable machine, I am going to reserve judgement until the latest Palm ships. The Palm m500 will be out this month – it costs the same and it’s equally slim and luscious. I think the Visor has the edge (sorry) because it’s expansion options are already well established. But now that Palm offers some expansion the decision is less clear-cut.