Handspring Visor Edge

visor-edge-thumb.gif
  • Editors' rating
    8.4 Excellent

Pros

  • Attractive slimline design
  • expandability
  • rechargeable Li-ion battery
  • convenient flip cover.

Cons

  • Monochrome screen
  • no flash memory for OS upgrades
  • Springboard adapter adds bulk.

The latest addition to Handspring's Visor product line, the Visor Edge, is a thin and light pocket computer in a sleek metallic case. It is designed to compete directly with the popular Palm V series and costs £280 excluding VAT (£329 inc. VAT).

Available in three colours (silver, blue, and red), the Visor Edge has a matching metal flip lid. Both the lid's hinge and the metal stylus are mounted on the outside of the case to give it an industrial look and reduce the overall size. The result is a Visor that is about half the thickness and, at 136g, some 24g lighter than the original Visor design (shared by the Visor Deluxe and Visor Platinum) -- although it is still slightly larger and heavier than the Palm V.

The key difference between the Visor Edge and the Palm V series is that Handspring has managed to preserve the Visor's Springboard expansion platform, albeit in a slightly different form. In place of the standard Springboard slot, it has an edge connector (called, unsurprisingly, the Edge Connector) and includes a Springboard adapter. To attach a module, you insert it into the adapter and then slide the whole thing over the back of the device in a manner similar to one of the Expansion Packs for Compaq's iPAQ Pocket PC.

Although the Edge Connector is physically different from the original design, it supports all the same features as the Springboard slot. This gives Handspring an advantage over Palm devices when it comes to expandability. Expansion modules that fit directly into the Edge Connector are expected in the next few months.

The Visor Edge may be all new on the outside, but internally it's virtually identical to the high-end Visor Platinum, including the same 33MHz Motorola Dragonball VZ processor, 8MB memory and backlit 4-bit grey-scale display -- although Handspring claims the display is slightly enhanced. Unlike the Platinum, the Visor Edge includes a rechargeable lithium-ion battery rated for a month of typical use, and features a redesigned USB cradle.

The Visor Edge comes with Palm OS version 3.5.2 H2, which in addition to the standard Palm PIM applications includes Date Book+, an advanced calculator and a world clock. This model also has two unique enhancements. The Silent Alarm lets you ditch the annoying beeping sound in favour of a flashing LED. And the Fast Lookup feature lets you locate a contact without the stylus by pressing a series of buttons to narrow down the choices.

Top ZDNET Reviews

In our testing, the Visor Edge worked as advertised. The installation was flawless, the new design not only looks great, but also is comfortable to carry and use, and we especially liked how the lid locked in two different positions. The Visor Edge is compatible with both Palm applications -- anything that works on Palm OS 3.5 or later -- and Springboard modules. Our only real complaints are that it takes a little practice to remove the stylus smoothly and that, unlike the Palm Vx, the Visor Edge does not have flash memory, so you can't upgrade to Palm OS 4.0 when it ships.

The Visor Edge's turn in the spotlight may be short-lived, as Palm is expected to announce shortly the new m500 series that will reportedly include an SD (Secure Digital) expansion slot and a model with a colour display. But for now, the Handspring Visor Edge has a clear edge in terms of design, features and expansion.

Top ZDNET Reviews