Visor Prism, PDA
by: Handspring, go
to the web site
95, 98, 98SE, Me, NT4.x, 2000, XP; PC with USB or serial
do you get when you cross a Personal Information
Manager (PIM) with a 33MHz Motorola Dragonball
VZ processor, 16-bit color, thousands of programs,
fast and slick handwriting recognition, and portability?
The current crop of Personal Digital Assistants
(PDAs) of course! The Handspring Visor Prism
is in the vanguard of the color PDA models, the
latest answer to changing work loads and environments.
It has led the way with good usability, a handy
set of bundled and pre-installed software, USB
connection for fast data transfer and program
installation, and good integration with Windows
and Mac desktops.
built a company around the PDA. Handspring, Sony and HandEra
have licensed the Palm operating system (PalmOS) and developed
highly competitive models of their own. HP, Casio and Compaq
went another route, using more computing power in their PDA
models but embedding the Windows CE operating system instead
of PalmOS. They're all nice and useful. The Handspring PDAs
were unique in that the design incorporates a slot for add-on
modules. The Springboard slot can be filled with modules from
dozens of third-party vendors: MP3 players, telephones, additional
memory, voice recorders, TV remote controls, backup devices,
digital cameras and much, much more.
the Handspring in the field and at home to determine whether
or not the effectiveness and usability was really a replacement
for traditional day timers and schedulers, notepads, appointment
books, to-do lists on paper forms and even PC-based managers
such as Outlook. This review is heavily biased in favor of
the Prism, mainly because I've been using a PalmOS-based PDA
for more than two years and the Prism for the past 5 months.
Purchase one of these things, take it home and you can be
up and running in about 15 minutes (including installation
of the PC or Mac desktop synchronization software). PDAs don't
have floppy disk or CD-ROM drives. Programs and other data
are loaded onto a PC, then automatically transferred to the
PDA when you do something called HotSynching. Start a HotSynch
session (which lasts an average of about 30 seconds) and all
the data on your PDA is backed up to corresponding utilities
in the desktop software, and any new programs you've set up
for the PDA are also transferred and installed. Easy.
some old paper habits can be hard to break, the latest PDAs
function well as day timer /scheduler replacements. Between
to-do lists with alarms, appointments with alarms (which can
be set to go off days, hours or minutes in advance), fully
controllable prioritization settings, much more memory (8MB
in the Prism - additional 8MB and 16MB Springboard modules
are available), and a well-integrated set of pre-installed
utilities for device configuration and time management which
synch properly with Outlook, the Prism seems to cover most
bases. If you have to take notes at meetings, issue memos
to staff, make appointments outside your office, need an address
book for reference in order to make phone calls while travelling,
are only in your office 2 or 3 days out of the week and everything
(Outlook mainly) has to be synchronized so that people in
the office who book some appointments for you don't create
conflicts, a Handspring Visor Prism is worth considering.
A paper day timer /scheduler doesn't do all of this easily.
Some programs will not run if their data files or databases
are stored in a Springboard memory module. The problem is
partly due to PalmOS limitations and partly to sloppy programming
of some software. Fix this please! We're long past the stage
when extra memory should baffle anyone! You're stuck with
PalmOS v3.5 (which is a very good version actually). A ROM
or software OS upgrade path is needed for future versions
of the Prism. Handspring has to give the Prism a higher screen
resolution or it will quickly become a poor relation to the
Sony Clie and HandEra color, PalmOS-based PDAs. Paper day
timer/ schedulers provide a larger visual context - lots of
details about many days all at once - which a PDA just can't
provide. If my DayTimer accidentally falls 10' or 15' off
a precarious perch I just dust it off. A PDA which drops some
distance to a concrete floor is likely to be a total write-off.
The Handspring Visor Prism is faster than some of the competition.
Color depth is excellent. The screen is bright and comparatively
easy to read in all lighting conditions. The color-to (built-in
rechargeable battery) weight trade-off is worthwhile. Enormous
amount of software available. Excellent construction, excellent
usability, good quality stylus. The Graffiti printing recognition
language is extremely easy to learn - no more than an hour
of practice to learn all the basics - and there's also a built-in
keyboard so you can tap what you need with the stylus. Recharges
in the HotSynch cradle. I'm getting several days of extensive
use out of a full charge. Handspring just dropped the MSRP
by $100. Highly recommended.
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