The Palm organizer has some serious competition, and it comes from the same
people who designed the original Palm. The most exciting feature of the new
Handspring Visor, a $250 Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), is a special
slot for plug-and-play hardware and software upgrades.
The internals of the Visor Deluxe bear a striking resemblance to Palm organizers. The Visor Deluxe is based on the same processor and operating
system as the current Palm devices; a 16-MHz Motorola Dragonball EZ processor running the Palm OS 3.1. Like Palm units, the Visor unit includes
an infrared port for beaming information to and from other Palm OS organizers; the same, improved reverse-backlit LCD touch screen used on the
latest Palm models and a docking station. The Visor has a USB connector
instead of a serial connector that is used on the Palm devices. In addition, the Visor also comes with a microphone but has no speakers or
The most obvious difference between the devices is the expansion slot on
the back of the Visor. Called the Springboard, this plug-and-play slot lets
you quickly add extras such as pagers, modems, MP3 players and Internet
access programs to name just a few. To vault Springboard into the mainstream market, Handspring plans to license Springboard technology to
other computer manufacturers and encourage third-party development of expansion modules.
Throw in the unit's built-in applications, compatibility with the wide
array of Palm applications already out there, and additional color options
and you have a PDA that is poised to give Palm organizers a run for their
This isn't the only additional competition for 3Com. Nintendo has recently
announced plans for a new Game Boy system, the Game Boy Advance, that will
let users send and receive e-mail, play networked games, and chat in real-time. Pricing is not yet available on this unit which is slated to
ship next year.