New Visors Add Memory and Colorful Cases
By Yardena Arar
(IDG) -- Handspring has refreshed its popular Visor line with two new models, including the first personal digital assistant based on the Palm operating system to ship with 16MB of memory.
Both the Visor Neo and the Visor Pro are available now. They have the same shape and size as their predecessors, the Visor and Visor Deluxe, which will be discontinued within the next few months.
Handspring also announced new Springboard expansion modules and accessories for Visors. The $199 Eyemodule2 camera module, previously marketed by its designer, Ideo, will now be a Handspring-branded product. Visor Pro owners can purchase a $60 Backup module, which can back up 16MB of data--a good accessory for people who save corporate data on their PDAs.
The new PDA models look different from their predecessors, thanks to new colors. The $199, entry-level Visor Neo is available in lacquer-like ruby red, purplish blue, or smoke. The $299 Visor Pro comes in a metallic color that's more silvery than the pewter-colored Visor Platinum (which in most other respects is similar to the Visor Neo).
Both run on zippy Motorola Dragonball VZ processors, which Handspring says are 50 percent faster than the processor in the Deluxe (and on a par with the Visor Platinum's CPU). The speed will come in handy for people who use their PDAs for resource-intensive tasks such as searching large databases or playing games. Both new models feature 4-bit grayscale screens, which means they show 16 shades of gray, the same as the Platinum's display, but richer than the four shades in the Visor and Visor Deluxe).
The Neo, like the previous models, is powered by two AAA batteries. However, they have a generous 8MB of memory, or four times as much as the original entry-level Visors. The Pro, which has 16MB of RAM (useful for people who want to carry large databases with them), uses a lithium ion battery that can be recharged in the cradle. Handspring says certain Springboard expansion modules can also be recharged this way.
As another improvement, both models use the Fast Lookup feature, introduced in the skinny Visor Edge. It lets you search for contacts using the device's buttons, eliminating the need to use a stylus. And the Pro's Silent Alarm sets off a blinking LED, useful in places where an audible alarm might be disruptive.
The new models, available now, join an already crowded field of PDAs vying for holiday gift dollars. Last month, Handspring lowered suggested retail prices for its older models. The 2MB Visor now costs $129; the 8MB Visor is priced at $169; the Platinum, $199; and the Visor Edge, $299. And less than two weeks ago, Microsoft announced an upgrade of its more upmarket Pocket PC operating system, which is expected to appear on several new PDAs this fall.
Other new accessories include a Visor belt clip holster, a stylus three-pack, and several new cases for Visors and Springboard modules.
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