SAN FRANCISCO (05/30/2000) - When you're ready to take your handheld to the next level, both Palm Inc. and Handspring Inc. models offer you the ability to attach extras that expand your device's capabilities. For ratings of some of these Palm additions, you can visit http://www.macworld.com, but we're going to give you a peek at one of the most exciting features of Handspring's Visor line -- the expansion slot known as the Springboard. However, most of the Springboard add-on modules were still in the design stage as of press time.
Currently shipping products include Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf, the 8MB Flash Module, the Quick Backup Module, and the Modem Module. Here's a look into the not-so-distant future.
Book modules, Peanut Press, 781/937-3489, http://www.peanutpress.com; Mesa View, 800/951-2620, http://www.mesaview.co; prices varyBoth of these companies plan to offer book modules. Peanut Press plans to introduce a Star Trek series as well as a business series called The Agile Manager. Mesa View initially plans to release classic literature from authors such as Shakespeare and Jack London. Soon after, Mesa View will create original content from its own list of writers.
Cue VisorRadio, Cue, 949/862-8800, http://www.cue.net; price not announcedYou'll soon be able to listen to your favorite radio station, adjust your schedule, and even respond to a page -- all with one device. Cue's VisorRadio will feature an FM tuner so you can listen to the radio, plus it will receive traffic reports ($60), weather forecasts, news alerts, and personal messaging.
For features beyond the FM tuner, you'll pay a monthly fee, depending on what services you want. You'll customize traffic reports by route using maps from Cue's Web site, and the weather reports for 500 cities will come in on an hourly basis. If you travel to the same places regularly, you'll appreciate the ability to categorize FM tuner presets by city and station name.
InfoMitt, Innogear, 408/848-8338, http://www.innogear.com; $50Innogear's InfoMitt brings prepaid paging service to your handheld with 1,000 units or three months of nationwide service. The service includes a personal toll-free number and digital- or alphanumeric-message capability, plus a variety of other perks. The software package can also update your calendar and address book when you send certain tagged information in text pages.
MiniJam, Innogear, 408/848-8338, http://www.innogear.com; price not announcedThe MiniJam is a portable MP3 player with controls right on the module. You just drag and drop to transfer files to the device, and the company plans on making the modules available with 0MB, 8MB, 16MB, or 32MB of internal memory.
The MiniJam also has an on-board memory-card expansion slot for MMC (MultiMediaCard) cards, currently available in 32MB capacity (64MB cards should arrive soon). The module sports a standard audio jack: use it with the provided headphones, or plug it into a small multimedia speaker system. The MiniJukeBox software offers playlist information; equalizer settings; ID3 information; and volume, balance, and play controls. The Handspring batteries power the module, or you can attach a variety of auxiliary external power supplies for the home and car.
Merriam Webster Dictionary, Landware, 201/261-7944, http://www.landware.com; price not announcedBad spellers of the world, untie! The Merriam Webster Dictionary module from Landware will have you spelling correctly in no time. It provides easy access to more than 60,000 words and their definitions from almost any application on your Visor.
MyCorder Data Acquisition System, Datastick Systems, 408/615-5774, http://www.datastick.com; price not announcedPerhaps one of the most scientific attachments for the Handspring is the MyCorder Data Acquisition System. Supporting six analog sensors, the MyCorder lets you measure and record environmental information such as deep-water temperature for oceanographic research and the pressure and density of snow pack. You can easily enter the measurements into a database and later export them into spreadsheets using HotSync.
Quo Vadis HandyGPS, MarcoSoft, 650/326-4727, http://www.marcosoft.com; $180Suddenly the need to stop and ask for directions becomes truly obsolete with MarcoSoft's Quo Vadis HandyGPS. HandyGPS offers worry-free travel with the ability to pinpoint your exact coordinates, including your speed and heading.
You can also download maps from MarcoSoft's Web site that show street names, street symbols (one way and so forth), and landmark icons. You can even have the GPS software scroll the map as you move, or scroll it using your stylus.
Sixpak Combo, Innogear, 408/848-8338, http://www.innogear.com; under $200Innogear's Sixpak Combo packs a 56-Kbps modem, cellular-capable modem, voice recorder with speaker, vibrating alarm, flashing LED alarm, and memory expansion slot into one module. It requires no extra batteries and allows you to send faxes and e-mail, surf the Internet, and record voice messages -- all on your Visor. The vibration alert function adds vibration to the list of options in your calendar alarm settings, for those times -- at the opera, for example -- when beeps and bells just aren't appropriate.