Handspring unveils its newest Visor

With a metallic case less than a half-inch thick, the newest Visor is Handspring's answer to the Palm V. It comes in a choice of red, silver, and blue, and unlike Palm, the Visor Edge ($899) supports the Springboard expansion slot -- with a twist. To get Springboard into such a thin device, Handspring makes the slot an add-on connector, rather than a built-in component of the device.

"Visor Edge still supports all Springboard modules," says Jeff Hawkins, Handspring chair and chief product officer. "You can add the Springboard slot as an option." He calls it the best of both the thin and expandable worlds.

With the release of the first Visor 18 months ago, Handspring's Springboard slot has bundled the capability to add functionality with a device run on the simple yet reliable Palm OS.

Available now online at Handspring.com (Vodafone stores in Australia), Visor Edge weighs less than 5 ounces. It has 8MB of memory, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and a 33MHz Motorola Dragonball VZ processor. With its form-fitting flip cover, the colourful metallic Edge almost resembles a fancy 1940s cigarette case. While the blue and silver models should hit retail stores within two weeks, red is only available on the Web. Handspring also announced a new graphite colour edition of its Visor Platinum ($699), available now.

Critics of the Springboard expansion slot have long said it is too large for Handspring to ever offer a thin device.

Visor Edge answers this by making Springboard a lightweight add-on sled that slides onto the back of Visor Edge whenever you want to add a module. The add-on slot comes included with Visor Edge devices.

To use the slot, simply remove the flip lid, and slide the slot along the rails on the sides of the device, says Michelle White, a Handspring product manager. "Then you can add any module including the Eyemodule 2 camera or VisorPhone," she says, referring to the add-on camera and mobile phone modules.

In a quick demonstration at the product's introduction, both modules worked instantly with the Visor Edge once slid into the Springboard slot.

Other design enhancements include a smaller, sleeker USB cradle (serial is an option), a HotSync/recharging cradle,and a new stylus placed at the side of Visor Edge "so we can show it off," Hawkins says. "It's a solid attachment though, it won't fall off."

Handspring also put the power switch on the bottom right so it's protected when the flip lid is closed, Hawkins adds.

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