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Palm Column

Palms, Palms, everywhere!

by Shawn Barnett
October 2000, issue 36

I'm Crazed! Okay, stop nodding. I mean about the incredible amount of stuff that's popping up for Palm OS computers. It's absolutely out of hand. We've got Visor modules appearing in the mail almost daily. Granted, there's been a bit of a wait (one year), but now they're arriving in droves. As for Palm, well they pay a guy to keep track of all the peripherals that are available for their various machines. It's true. I've met him. Then there are the accessories for the TRGpro I keep trying to get samples of, and now the peripherals that are doubtlessly due for the Sony Clie featured in this issue (and stuck to my eye above-don't ask me why I did it. I think I was jealous of Rick's wearable eyepiece on his column shot). There are also crates of gadgets that stick to, envelope, augment, tether, colorize, or otherwise enhance the various machines, all of which need to be reviewed. I forgot to mention styluses. Add the oodles of software from games to spreadsheets, from Palm Query Applications to moon trackers, and I'm overwhelmed. I think I'm in heaven, and I just don't know how to take it all in, let alone tell you all about it.

The Palm section is so outgrowing this magazine that I had no space to tell you about the incredibly cool little gadget below: the new Visor Phone. Naturally I can't review it until I actually get one, but I did get to see and play with it, and what a very cool module it is. Jeff Hawkins mentioned at PC Expo that he thought the future of handheld devices was voice, and he clearly meant what he said. You can use the included headset or simply hold the Visor up to your ear like a regular phone. I've been waiting for one of these. Now the Visor's built-in microphone finally has a use. Unfortunately for some of us, the first model is a GSM phone, but that allows for some pretty cool features, including 9.6Kbps modem functionality and compatibilty with any modem software. You can use the Visor's other programs while making calls, even holding conference calls. Speed dialing is done easily with the push-button interface, and calls are logged, including missed calls. There's even a short message service for chatting with your buddies no matter where you are. Out of hand, I'm telling you.

It'll be US$299 and only available on Handspring's website. Orders can be taken early, but the phones won't be available until late November. There is a possibility of future phones that will be compatible with CDMA and other standards; whether those will come from Handspring or other vendors is unclear.

Then there's all the software. I need to take a few lines and thank the writers who contribute to this section, because without their keen eyes and like-minded love of the platform, I couldn't keep up. Back when Palm was just a hobby for me, I thought nothing of staying up late after work to find out every little thing. Now I'm inundated all day and have to work on making a magazine or two, often late into the night, so time for scouring the Internet for the latest comes along much less often. These guys keep me in the know and write some great stuff, so muchas gracias, amigos.

And thanks to you who write in, asking questions and letting me know how you like your cool handheld computer, or telling me about some hot item I missed. This Palm thing is much bigger than any one of us, including the central figure of it all: Palm itself.

Speaking of Palm

I can't leave them out, can I? Not on a page named after them, and not after they were kind enough to invite me to their Billion Dollar Bash last month. They had a big party for all their employees and their families to celebrate their billion dollars in sales, their new independence, plus the launch of the m100. A billion dollars? Yeah, that's a big chunk of cash. They had a bunch of carnival-style games set up with the prizes being items with the new Palm logo on them. There was even a large boom-mounted camera that was instrumental in their mock Who Wants to be a Millionaire game. Most fun of all for the children was an opportunity to paint on some m100 faceplates and flip covers. Several tables were setup with paints and glitter and the kids and adults were let loose to get creative. I managed to get a shot of young Kelley Fernandez and her fine creation, shown above. Palms are more than just cool and useful tools, they've become fun. It looks like Kelley would agree with me. Okay, so it was really the painting that was fun, but a PDA that you can paint? That's fun! You won't see me painting a Sony CLIE anytime soon. I'll be too busy sticking it in my eye. - -Shawn Barnett

Shawn Barnett can be reached via e-mail at

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