Visor Platinum Review
Cranking up the speed on the handheld computer
The popularity of the personnel digital assistant (PDA) in
today's professional work environment has become so prevalent,
that it has become a symbol of working efficiently. Personnel
digital assistant's allow a professional to carry around a
device that fits into the palm of their hand, allowing them
to enter data, sort through entire contact lists, be alerted
to upcoming appointments, follow expense accounts, calculate
complicated algorithms and send e-mail. This popularity has
created a secondary market for accessories and hardware add-ons
allowing the PDA to be turned into Global Positioning System
(GPS), telephones, pagers, scanners, cameras, image projectors,
and a wirelessly connection to the net. This new hardware
has tested the PDA processing power and is pushing the limits
of its abilities. To meet this new challenge, Handspring has
introduced the Visor Platinum.
At first glance it doesn't look any different than any other Visor
model, but if you lift the hood, the Visor Platinum is a Ferrari.
The Visor Platinum features
a 33 MHz Dragonball VZ CPU (the brain of your PDA), 8MB of RAM and
runs Version 3.5 of the Palm OS. This is compared to the 16 MHz
Dragonball EZ that was used in the older monochrome screen models
or the 20 MHz Dragonball EZ used in the color models (both with
8MB of RAM and Version 3.1 of the Palm OS). What does all this mean?
The platinum is roughly 50 % faster in its ability to process information.
The new applications and hardware on the horizon will require this
power. If you think your PDA can do neat things now, the future
is going to be great.
The Visor Platinum comes complete with a Palm HotSync technology,
using a Universal Serial Bus (USB) connection to connect to the
desktop software, which comes with both Windows (Windows98/2000),
and Mac OS (8.51+) versions. This Visor Platinum cradle is identical
to the cradle used with the Visor and Visor Deluxe. Actually, the
Visor Platinum and Visor Deluxe are quite similar in many ways.
It has the same size and weight as the Visor Deluxe. It measures
121,9 mm x 76,2 mm x 17,8 mm (4.8" x 3.0" x 0.7") and it weighs
153 g (5.4 oz). It offers the same features, like 8 MB of RAM and
a monochrome screen. It has the same buttons, infrared port on the
side of case, microphone, Handspring's unique Springboard expansion
slot, graphite snap cover and leather slipcase. It runs on two 2
AAA batteries, just like the earlier Visor models and should provide
four to six weeks of performance with standard use. The two main
differences: processor speed and Version 3.5 of the Palm OS.
There are some refinements to the basic software applications,
which come with the platinum. The address book, to do list, and
memo pad have enhanced detail. The Visor Platinum has some very
distinguished features like the enhanced date book, advanced calculator
and a world clock. The Visor Platinum like other Palm OS handheld
PDA's is so easy to use you'll feel like you shouldn't even bother
reading the instructions (It is suggested you do, to get the most
out of your PDA). This is because the Palm OS has a graphical user
interface that's very intuitive and feels very familiar (years of
My overall impressions with the Visor Platinum is 100% Vroommmm.
I loved the speed aspect of it and the future possibilities it can
bring. The increased processing power along with Handspring's springboard
expansion slot will make it easy to plug-and-play, you simply pop
in a module and it works, no configuration required. Accessories
and hardware add-ons within the medical field are limited but they
are coming and this device will make it a snap to connect to them.
Another thing I liked was the grayscale graphics. I found the screen
to be crisper and clearer that my old Palm IIIe and the on screen
slide bar adjustment is quite convenient for adjusting the shades
on the screen.
What I didn't like about the Visor Platinum is it only comes in
a metallic silver case. This is minor, I'm sure by next year they'll
be every color under the sun. The biggest problem I found was that
the device only comes with a USB connection to your PC. I know USB
is easier to connect than serial port, but if you have an older
computer such as I do, then you have to purchase a serial port cradle
($29.95 US) to run Palm HotSync technology. This is also the case
if you are running Windows 95 Mac OS 7.5.3 and older versions. There
is also no Unix or Linux support for this device, but I'm sure that
will not last long.
To overcome my problem with the USB connection (and until
I get a newer computer), I've discovered the Backup Module
($39.95 US). The Backup Module lets you back up your entire
Handspring handheld with one tap on an icon. The module can
then be removed and stored separately from your handheld.
If you lose the data in your handheld (due to battery failure,
hard reset etc.), you can easily restore it with the backup
copy stored on the Backup Module. Insert the module into the
springboard expansion slot and tap on the restore button that
appears on your main screen. The Backup Module will then restore
all the data that you last saved. This module is very easy
to use and highly recommend, especially if you are away from
your desktop and collecting a lot of new data.
Ian Galloway B.Sc. RRT
Ian has given freely of his time and talents to advance the use
of mobile computing in nursing. Ian has developed all of
the RNpalm software that is currently available for Free download.
Ian is a RRT in Halifax Nova Scotia and is studying Computer
Science at Dalhousie University.
Ian is married to Paula, an RN and MN candidate at Dalhousie
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