Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
Handspring is preparing to offer its Visor product in retail channels as early as the end of this month. Released in October, the Visor has only been available from Handspring directly.
The 4MB Visor and 8MB Visor Deluxe are expected to compete heavily with the Palm III and V series. Recent price drops and new product releases by Palm Computing have been attributed to Palm getting ready to dig in for a long battle for precious real estate–consumers’ hands.
The release of the Visor at retail stores will increase Visor’s market exposure and availability. While the Visor is similar to the Palm computing devices (indeed, both run the same operating system, PalmOS) it differs in some sigificant respects. The Visor sports a totally new technology, called “springboard” which makes the Visor much more easily expanded than other Palm devices. The springboard standard gives developers a blank slate on which to develop an almost unlimited array of upgrade devices, including memory modules, modems, and cameras. Additionally, the Visor comes with USB compatability, something that iMac, iBook and Lombard users will appreciate. Palm’s USB solution requires a $39 adapter.
Where the Visor comes up short, however, is that its current models do not have “flash ROM,” or the ability to upgrade the operating system in the Visor devices. All currently-shipping Palm devices, with the exception of the Palm IIIe, are capable of supporting OS upgrades. Current Visor devices are shipping with Palm OS 3.1, and cannot be upgraded to PalmOS 3.3 or the heavily anticipated PalmOS 3.5.
When Handspring’s Visors start competing for shelf space with the Palm devices, Palm Computing may very well see its only capable competitor in a market which holds serious potential. Either way, the release will result in a significant advantage for consumers.