Computing Review: Handspring Visor Edge, Pro & Prism
the recent introduction of mandatory Personal Digital Assistants
(PDAs) for students at the University of South Dakota, mobile
devices are finally expected to become obligatory for most institutions
of higher learning. To meet the growing demands of the education
market, Handspring has recently lowered the prices of their three
For the scholar on–the–go, the Handspring Visor Edge offers
students the pinnacle of portability. Featuring a swift 33 Mhz
Motorola Dragonball VZ processor and equipped with 8 megs of memory,
the Edge manages to compress its substantial power into a slick
metallic casing, measuring less than half an inch thick and weighing
a meager 4.8 ounces. To withstand the wear and tear this slim
unit is sure to endure, the Edge’s monochrome screen is
protected by a metallic “cool slip” which effortlessly slides
on and off. The Edge easily connects to most computers
(PC/Mac) through a USB port connected cradle, and can both synchronize
and recharge simultaneously. The Edge’s stylus has a well
designed slot and the unit retains the Fast Lookup feature found
in Handspring’s more advanced models.
While the Edge’s portability features are impressive, users
will have to sacrifice some conveniences. While most Handspring
devices are compatible with Springboard modules (expansion cards
containing additional hardware or software which conserve memory),
the Edge’s small size prohibits its ability to easily utilize
such modules. Users wishing to employ modules must first slip
on an expansion slot which renders the “cool slip” cover unusable
and significantly increases the weight and size of the Edge.
But for most students, these sacrifices will be inconsequential
considering that once a module is installed, users can potentially
listen to music or connect to the Internet wirelessly.
For educators and administrators who require more power, Handspring’s
Visor Pro contains twice as much memory (16 megs) as the
Edge, enabling greater storage for larger programs. Its
fixed Springboard module slot permits users to transform their
device into a digital camera, mobile phone or MP3 player. Especially
convenient is the Pro’s LED alarm, which provides visual
alerts, rather than most PDAs audible alerts. While its slightly
bulky size downgrades its portability factor, power users and
Springboard junkies should opt for the Pro.
For users who are not only looking for a full-featured PDA, but
also a portable game machine, the Visor Prism is Handspring’s
top-of-the-line color PDA. Almost identical to the Visor Pro,
the Prism’s stand-out feature is a bright screen yielding
65,000 vibrant colors. To compensate for the added cost of color,
the Prism only features half the memory of the Pro
and is noticeably heavier and bulkier than other PDAs.
While all three PDA models come equipped with the latest processors,
it is slightly disappointing that they come bundled with the older
Palm OS 3.5, rather than the newer 4.1. Still, with street prices
ranging from $199 to $299, Handspring is providing feature-rich
digital assistants within the budget of most scholars and educators.#
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