By: Keith Anderson, RN, NP, MS
Keith is a nurse practitioner at the Center for Joint
Replacement at Loma Linda University Medical Center in
Loma Linda, California. He earned his Master's Degree
in nursing from Loma Linda University in 1998. Prior to
graduate school, he worked as a registered nurse in the
ICU and ED of Loma Linda University Community Medical
Center for approximately 7 years, having earned his BSN
from Pace University in New York in 1993. Prior to entering
nursing, Keith earned a Bachelor's degree in Molecular
Biology from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts
in 1990. Keith has long been interested in technology
and science, and has been using Palm OS devices in his
practice since 1998.
Pro is the same size and shape as my deluxe (or for that
matter, my father's Platinum). Its the same silver as the Platinum,
and has the same 4-bit (16 shades) grayscale screen as the Platinum.
It even has the same 33 MHz Dragonball VZ processor as the Platinum.
What the Visor Pro has that makes it compelling to me is 16
megabytes of onboard memory. What this means to you is the ability
to keep massive reference programs on your Visor, an still have
room for a few games, your addressbook, and a word processor
so you can actually do some work. Just for hahas, I actually
loaded both Epocrates and Medscape's Tarascon Palm onto the
Visor Pro, along with MedRules. I then added drivers for both
the PocketType keyboard and the Stowaway. Finally, I beamed
over all the addresses I had collected over the years. Guess
what? I still had a few megabytes of room left!
Then I started playing with it. Looking up meds in
Tarascon was lighting fast, and I could flip over to Epocrates to
see if there was any more info (occasionally, but not often). On
my old Deluxe, MedRules usually takes about 8 seconds just to start,
and another 3-4 for the actual rules to show up after I get past
the disclaimer. On the Pro, it took less than 3 to load, and I couldn't
measure the lag for the rules to show up. That's right, the thing
is fast. It seems to handle both complex calculations and large
data files faster. Of course, I only have my Deluxe to compare to.
It seems about as fast as my father's Platinum (the few times I've
gotten to play with it.)
The Pro also comes with some neat software upgrades
that only Handspring has. First, it comes loaded with Palm OS 3.5.
Not the newest OS (Palm is up to 4 something now), but as I said,
it has a few tweaks. One is a silent alarm option. Because the Pro
uses an internal lithium ion rechargeable battery, it has a little
LED below the power button to let you know when the unit is charging.
Handspring made use of that LED to serve as a silent alarm as well.
You can change options from within Date Book Plus, allowing you
to choose audible alarms, or a flashing light from 1-15 minutes.
I tend to carry my handheld in an eHolster,
so a little blinky light wouldn't help me, but if I did a lot of
time in meetings and I didn't want the thing bleeping at me, a silent
alarm would be nice.
It also has the same fast lookup feature in the address book that
came with the Edge. If you hit the up arrow button right after the
address book button, or any time you are at the top of the page
in address book, the unit beeps, and the screen changes. The hard
keys (Date Book, Phone, To Do and Memo) are remapped to a fast search
tool. When you press the Date Book key the list changes to show
only those entries whose last name begins with A - L (you get M
- Z with the Phone key). If you hit the button again, you eliminate
all the entries with last names that don't have A - L as the first
two letters, and so on. You can do the same thing with first names
by using the To Do and Memo keys. I tried it. Once you get used
to it, it really is pretty fast. Things work a little differently
if you have your Address Book set up by company and last name (you
search company on the left, and last name on the right), but the
idea is the same. If I had enough addresses that it really became
a problem, it would be a useful tool.
The rechargeable battery is similar to the one in
the Visor Prism. Handspring's specs say you should get 4-6 weeks
of power out of one full charge, and you get a partial recharge
every time you sync. If like (like me) you tend to put your Visor
on the cradle as soon as you walk in the door to your office, you
should never run out of juice. I seem to remember Handspring saying
that you can get a top-up charge in as little as 15 minutes, so
if you hit the sync button while checking your messages, and leave
it on the cradle while you answer those messages, then you should
get close to a full charge every day.
Now for a few things I didn't like. Not much really.
I still don't like the silver paint that both the Platinum and the
Pro use. Unless you are totally anal about protecting it, it rubs
off the corners and scratches, leaving you with a pretty battered
looking handheld in a short time. I'm also still kind of ambivalent
about the rechargeable battery. I know that LiIon batteries don't
have the memory effect problem that NiCds did, but there is still
a limit to the number of times a rechargeable battery can be recharged.
If the battery dies, it will take a trip to Handspring to have it
replaced. Most of you think that you will have upgraded to a new
handheld by then, but I want to point out that there are still people
using Palm III's or even the original Palm Pilot out there, running
on their trusty AAA's. My Palm III runs just fine, even though it
is now almost 4 years old, as does my Visor Deluxe at 1 and a half.
Anyway, the Platinum and the Deluxe have both been
retired, replaced by the Pro and the Neo (respectively). Both have
33 MHz processors, but as I said at the beginning, the Pro has 16
meg of memory. It's kind of like having a pocket that is twice as
a big as you expected.
I give the Pro 95 out of 100 - a fast beat that gives
current pricing at the PDA cortex Store
Keith can be reached by email