Handspring Springboard Modem Review


Handspring Visor

The Handspring Modem
is a Springboard 33.6Kbps modem module for the Visor PDA. The modem is powered
by 2 AAA batteries that are included. Also included is a 6ft phone line.

The module is made of plastic and metal. It’s nice and
sturdy and not at all flimsy. A small recessed button for hotsyncing and a
phone line connector are its only noticeable features. When the modem is
inserted into the Visor, it extends out about 3/4" and increases the
unit’s thickness by less than 1/2". 2 AAA batteries can be easily
inserted or removed from a battery compartment on the back of the unit.

When you insert the module into the Visor, it powers the Visor on. The
same thing happens when you remove it from the Springboard slot. From what
I can tell, inserting the modem installs 16k of software / drivers.

The modem does not come with any other software. Basically all that you can
do with the modem straight out of the box is to connect with your ISP or hotsync
via a modem connection. In order to use your Visor to send / receive email,
browse the web, fax documents, telnet, chat etc, you’ll need to download third
party shareware apps. It would have been nice if  Handspring would have
included some extra software to allow a person to take full advantage of the

Installing and using the modem is simple. You just plug it into the
Springboard slot, plug the phone line into the connector,  and configure
the settings for your ISP. This is done thru the system preferences screen. The
only info you need is your user name, password and ISP phone number.

You can then press connect and the modem dials the number and connects to
your ISP. I had no problems at all connecting with my ISP (Mindspring). The
Visor modem has a speaker so you can hear the dial tones and connect sounds.

During the testing of this modem, I used a few shareware apps: ProxiWeb,
ChatIRC, and Mocha Pocket Telnet. All of these apps worked great with the modem.
I was extremely impressed with the ProxiWeb browser. I did some informal speed
comparisons. The entries below show how long in seconds that it took to
completely load a non-cached web page using ProxiWeb on the Visor and Internet
Explorer on my desktop PC.

33.6k Modem
PC Modem
www.palmstation.com 15 secs. 18 secs.
www.palm.com 10 secs. 17 secs.
www.the-gadgeteer.com/new.html 40 secs. 10 secs.

I’m not sure if this data really tells you much, but it is interesting. The
modem performance overall feels pretty snappy.

The only small problem that I had with the modem was that 25% of the time
when I’d plug in the phone line into the modem, it would try to initiate a
hotsync. I think the hotsync button on the modem is too close to the phone jack
so that pressure on the jack somehow activates the button. Other than that, I
think this is a very well constructed modem that works quite well.

Price: $129.95

Small, portable module.
Easy to use.

No software included.
Inserting the phone cable too hard sometimes initiates a Hotsync.


Product Information

  • Small, portable module.
  • Easy to use.
  • No software included.
  • Inserting the phone cable too hard sometimes initiates a Hotsync.
{ 20 comments… add one }
  • gadget February 5, 2003, 6:01 am

    is keeping Judie a slave to Palm. You have to tell us! That said, I’m in 100% agreement. I too carry around not only a palm and a pocket pc but a psion revo! because they all have programs I can’t live without that don’t have counterparts on other platforms. Yikes! I recently splurged on a Palm Tungsten and am impressed though this makes me want a new PPC too. I have a 2 yr old iPaq. Programs I can’t live without: Palm : Datebook5 with icon+, Splash Suite, TinySheet, PPC : Pocket Artist, all the customizable skins – today page, sounds cool themes, gigabar, Snails, Word Logic Keyboard; Psion: JWIN, macro 5, .. the whole symbian OS. Fess up Judie.:o

  • Dizzy Devil February 5, 2003, 5:17 pm

    Yes I want to know also what program it is…….. If you have one you can’t live without I am sure my Customers do also.


  • eichin February 5, 2003, 6:51 pm

    I couldn’t do without DateBk5. Part of the reason I don’t use any of the “big computers” for calendaring is that I simply don’t find any of them as smooth as datebk5, and they’d need to sync with it anyway, so why bother 🙂

    There are other apps I find indispensible on the Clie (like AcidImage and DeepReader) but they’re mostly stuff that I use because they’re handy when I’m portable – DateBk5 makes it worth going portable in the first place…

  • ascolletti February 5, 2003, 9:51 pm

    For me, its Laridian.. I love havingit on the PocketPC. I know there is a Palm version, but the study books do not work on the Palm platform.

  • Judie February 5, 2003, 10:08 pm

    Ha – it’s easy to figure out what it is, just look at the Palm list on my Diary Page. While there are other programs that try to imitate what Woman does – this one has the format and the features that I prefer. The good people at Beiks keep promising me that they will eventually have a PPC version…but I am so impatient the waiting seems to be for forever. Anyways – it’s a “girly” program, but I can’t live without it. The desktop interfece makes it even better. I sure would love to be able to transfer information from my DT to either PDA…one day…

    Judie :0)

  • ascolletti February 6, 2003, 12:08 am

    that was to easy.. It must be woman for Palm OS

  • questionfear February 6, 2003, 2:23 pm

    Wow. Just looked at the “Woman” website…and I am, frankly, shocked. Not that theres a website or a program like that, and I’m sure its great for you, Judie, but as someone who has had and has done a good deal of sex ed, especially for the late high school/college age crowd, programs like that always worry me…they never make it clear that the Fertility Awareness Method is only somewhat accurate, and that it certainly does nothing to protect you from STDs and AIDS (again, this does not really apply to someone who is using this in a monogamous relationship or who is trying to track their ovulation cycle). Still, it begs the question of whether the program creators should have said something about the shortcomings of using a program on your palm alone to avoid getting pregnant. While it’s true they have no direct legal obligation, the underlying ethical one is still there. While it’s alright to say that its a natural way to avoid/attempt to get pregnant, its also targetting one of the fastest growing groups for AIDS infection-sexually active heterosexual women.
    Having finished with my soapbox, I want to make it clear that I was not trying to a) troll, b) cast aspersions on the program, or c) proselytize. I am just curious about whether this occured to other people, and I am curious whether anyone thinks a program like this has any sort of obligation to make clear its shortcomings as well as its benefits.

  • Judie February 6, 2003, 5:08 pm


    Without getting too personal, I should state that I don’t use the program for the birth control aspect – but for the future trips and planning aspect. Aunt Flo is a reality for women, and knowing when she will “visit” is a valuable asset.

    The calendar feature (main view) of this program is only offered in Woman, and that’s part of why it is so invaluable to me. I use the little icons and notes that you can place there and I get an instant visual of what’s going on.

    There are actually quite a few other programs both for Pocket PC and Palm that have been created for the birth control function. Personally, the rhythm method scares the heck out of me.

    Thanks for writing!

    Judie :0)

  • Green1 February 6, 2003, 9:17 pm

    Is it me or this program really need a new name? 😀


  • Judie February 6, 2003, 9:28 pm

    Ha – I know…it just sounds “off.”

    It’s not a bad program, though.

    Judie 😉

  • EMTHayes February 7, 2003, 3:33 am

    Well, the big one that comes to mind is ePocrates. As far as I can tell, there is *no* equivalent to this that runs on *any* handheld platform other tnan PalmOS (well, I can run it on my Zaurus, under emulation, but that’s painfully slow…).

    Sure, there are PDR-style programs, but the ability to automatically update your drug database, including things like breaking FDA warnings, every time you HotSync is unique.

    Anthony Hayes

  • Matt February 7, 2003, 3:44 am

    why cant it be handbase or some other program,,,,a women program… .hmmmmmmm…:D

  • Judie February 7, 2003, 4:13 am

    Matt – actually, this should tell you how similar the Palm and Pocket PC platforms have become, software-wise.

    My MUST HAVE applications include HanDBase, PalmReader, eWallet and CineScout…and all of them are available on either platform.

    The one program I can’t replace just happens to be a “girly” one. 😉

    Judie :0)

  • Matt February 8, 2003, 4:30 am

    “girly” one indead. I need to go work on my car or fix somthing in my house make me feel like a man again after reading this!!:p

  • Green1 February 9, 2003, 3:43 pm

    I think in term of software catalog, Palm’s strength right now is personal data management and educational. There are a lot of those little apps which functionality only Palm has.

    PPC has more and far better ‘geek’ toys (encryption, sniffer, strong calculator, networking tool, graphical games, etc.) and of course more bad wallpaper than Jamaica got fruits. (with apology to Beastie boys)

  • Matt February 10, 2003, 4:33 am

    you are right alot of software is changing and crossing platforms.This is great for both PPC and Palm but Palm still has the lead as far as cost of software is concerned.

  • gadget February 12, 2003, 6:17 pm

    on geek.com that stated the opinion office documents are actully better on palm devices than ppc’s despite the fact that ppc’s come with built in pocket word, excel, etc. Here’s the link: http://www.geek.com/news/geeknews/2003Feb/bpd20030207018533.htm
    What do you think? Are spread sheets and documents easier to work with on a palm with docs to go or some other 3rd party app??

  • gadget February 12, 2003, 6:22 pm

    I am finding that I’m using a program called Slap on my palm and it is becoming one of the apps I can’t live without. Basically it has a memo like interface and you can quickly enter info on the fly then *post* it to datebook, phonebook, memopad or to do’s. I find this great because I can enter the name and phone # etc all at once and the program is smart enough to put the entries into the correct fields when I hit the phonebook button to transfer it there. I would really like to find something similar for PPC. Does anyone know of a program like this?

  • Judie February 12, 2003, 6:26 pm

    Slap is a GREAT program – I couldn’t live without it, either!

    Judie :0)

  • Matt February 13, 2003, 3:31 am

    I am going to have to check “Slap” out. Thanks

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