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Visor Neo and Pro

Visor line gets greater capacity

by Shawn Barnett

September 20, 2001

Handspring introduced some incremental changes to the Visor line with the Visor Neo and Visor Pro handhelds. While they're not spectacular changes by any means, the price drops and memory improvements are worth noting.

First is the Visor Neo, which is mostly a Visor Platinum with a semi-transparent color casing and a cool clear cradle. Since the Platinum is Handspring's most popular high-end device, it makes sense to offer it in a few more colors. Unlike the Visor Deluxe models, the entire casing is colorized, with a dark tint. Available colors are red, blue, and smoke. Of the three, I'm pretty sure the smoke will be the more popular. Also unlike the Deluxe casings, the Neos are smooth, with a reflective surface and a slick feel. Oil from the hands does tend to build up, but they at least don't slide out of your hand as would be expected. Scratches haven't been a big problem either.

The operating system for both the Neo and Pro is 3.5.2H3.0, which includes the Fast Lookup feature first seen in the Visor Edge. With a few presses of the four application buttons, you can quickly look up names in the Address Book.

The Visor Pro has a few more enhancements. First, it introduces rechargeability to the standard Visor line. The back of the unit is simple and clean with no battery door. It recharges following the same basic system first seen in the Visor Prism, with the charging light in the lower right corner, which flashes when charging and shines solid when fully charged. This also doubles as a silent alarm as we've seen on the Visor Edge.

More significant is that it's the first Palm OS device with 16MB of RAM built in. While I first thought that 8MB would satisfy me for a long time, I'm now able to go well beyond that with books and programs on my main unit. These two enhancements put the Visor Pro a the top of the Visor power user list.

Many will be disappointed that the new Visors don't use Palm OS 4.0, and the OS is still not upgradeable. But the good news is that they do use Palm's Desktop 4.0.

Both units are fully backward compatible with Palm OS programs and Springboard modules. The best news is the price. You can get Platinum power for US$199 with the Neo, or get the maximum available storage in any Palm OS device and say goodbye to batteries with the Visor Pro at US$299.

-Shawn Barnett

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