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By Chris De Herrera 
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Handspring versus Windows CE
By Chris De Herrera, Copyright 1999
 Version 1.00  Revised 9/17/99

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Earlier this week, Handspring announced the Visor. It is based on the Palm Operating system with the same software features of the existing Palm system. Handspring has lowered the entry price point for Palm operating systems products to $149! There was one unique hardware feature - a Springboard � socket (read: PROPRIETARY) for expansion and peripherals. Handspring will offer Springboard modules with modems, 8 Mb of flash, a backup module and a Tiger Woods golf game. In the future they envision many other modules such as pagers, MP3 players, digital cameras and wireless modems as well. The cool thing about Springboard is that it automatically installs the appropriate software to use the module. Also, you can't use more than one module at a time!

Proprietary vs. Open Standard?

This is a direct answer to the Windows CE Palm-size PC's support of industry standard CompactFlash peripherals. Right now the Palm-size PC supports 56k modems, Ethernet, serial ports, flash (up to 320 MB!), IBM MicroDrive (340 MB!), digital camera, and wireless cellular connectivity - TODAY! The ability to shop among multiple vendors with industry standard peripherals allows consumers to make choices based on price and functionality without being limited to purchasing all peripherals from one vendor. Examples include the SpringBoard 8 MB of flash card at $79.95 ( and the current price of 32 MB of CompactFlash at $77! ( ). Clearly, using an industry standard has allowed consumers to benefit!

Handspring has jumped on a potential advantage with the automatic installation of applications upon insertion of the Springboard module. The question is does this limit the usage of the peripherals to Handspring's applications and if it does not, then the user must still install applications from the desktop in order to use the peripherals. If users still must install applications or upgrades (we all know they will come!) from the desktop, then there is very little advantage to the automatic installation.  Further, with some vendors choosing to use SpringBoard modules for software distribution, this will not allow users to keep all their data in the same place like Windows CE and Palm offer today, but of course the developers will love it since it offers the ultimate in copy protection.

USB - It should be here!

I think that Handspring's use of a USB connection should be incorporated into the next generation of Windows CE devices. Clearly, they are providing a much faster method of communications right out of the box however, when a Palm-size PC uses Ethernet, it is operating at a similar connection speed as well.


Overall, Handspring allows the Palm operating systems to add peripherals and compete with Windows CE, however without color screens, much faster processors and increased internal ram, Windows CE still offers a superior hardware platform.

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Other Articles on Windows CE and Handspring

CNN: Visor Maker expects Springboard to jumpstart new PDA?

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