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issue 08/01/2000

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vCity 1.0
by Dr. Adam L. Gruen

20 days in the life of a 21st century virtual city simulation.

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mindjack rating

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+ uses PalmOS, is affordable, comes in five colors, lots of potential

- Springboard modules have been slow in coming

buy a Visor at

Handspring Visor Deluxe

- reviewed by Donald Melanson

Palm has become a lot like the Apple of the mobile computing industry, despite the fact that Apple was once itself in the industry. Their PalmPilot line of PDAs has attracted a devoted following remarkable similar to Mac users, but unlike Macs, PalmPilots have a significant majority of the PDA market.

Also unlike Apple, Palm decided to let other companies use their operating system, the PalmOS, in their products. Handspring's Visor is the first PDA to really take advantage of that. Handspring is the company founded by Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky, the inventors of the original PalmPilot.

There have been other PalmOS-based PDAs, like IBM's WorkPad, but they've essentially just been PalmPilot clones, identical in appearance and functionality. Handspring takes things further by not only offering a different design but by adding additional functionality through an expansion slot called the Springboard.

Springboard a very interesting feature with lots of potential, but the modules have been a bit slow in coming. There is a digital camera available, as well as a handful of others, but the potential killer apps like MP3 players, pagers and wireless modems were still not available while I was reviewing the Visor.

On the design end of things, the Visor is about the same size as a Palm III but it's also available in five colors (graphite, ice, green, blue and orange). Compared to my PalmPilot Personal (with a whopping 512k RAM), the Visor feels quite a bit sturdier, but I think it's about on par with the newer Palms in that area.

Since it uses the same OS and input system (Graffiti), anyone who's used a Palm will be able to use the Visor immediately. That also means that the huge number of applications and games for the PalmPilot will work with the Visor as well.

So does Handspring beat Palm at their own game? Not exactly. Palm serves a wider user base with their devices ranging from the low-cost Palm IIIe to the high-end Palm IIIc and Palm VII. However, for mid-range users (i.e. most of us) the Visor does currently give you the most for the money, and upcoming Springboard modules should make it an even more attractive option. Prices range from $149 for the Visor Solo (2MB) to $249 for the Visor Deluxe (8MB).

b i o :
Donald Melanson is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Mindjack Magazine. According to him, Blade Runner is one of the best movies ever, David Bowie is the single most important rock artist, the future is in video games, and coffee is the bean of creativity. In addition to Mindjack, he now also heads a new media design shop,


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