HandSpring Visor Neo : An Open Letter to the now-become-retro gadget

By soumitra, Gaea News Network
Tuesday, January 19, 2010

handspring-visorDear HandSpring Visor Neo,

First of all, I beg your mercy for having forgotten you through these long years. With the advent of technology and latest smartphones being available at so attractive prices, I had forgotten about you and almost the fact that there were sometimes a special category of gadgets for taking notes, making to do list, storing phone numbers and addresses of people and they were called PDAs or Personal Digital Assistants. Though there are some latest PDAs and Palmtop Computers which pack in enough technology to compete with the smartphones but still they fail to achieve the popularity that it had 10-20 years ago. We cannot just remember that only 10 year back, the Handspring Neo was once considered as packing in the then latest technology like touchscreen, huge (!) 8MB Memory and the capability to be synchronized with computers for reading e-mails and other stuff. This is time to take a closer look at our forgotten hero and look back to feel how far we have come forward in these 10 years in terms of handheld gadgets and technology.


To start, I would say that I liked your pretty Boxy Design. You were 4.8 inches tall, 3 inches wide and 0.7 inches thick (Admit it, you were fat compared to the modern day slim smartphones). Your face had a lovely monochrome touchscreen measuring 3.2 inches diagonally. There were some buttons at the bottom including an on-off button, a date book access button, a phone book address button, a pair of up-down button, a to do list access button, a memo access button. The stylus slot was on the right side of the device and there is a space to connect some springboard modules and at the bottom there is a port for it to connect it to PC. The weight of about 150 grams and the form factor of the device felt just a bit bulkier to be called a pocketable device. However, I may be biased by some modern day featherweight devices. Please excuse me if I have goofed up anything.


Though a common gadgethead would feel that the resolution of 160 X 160 is pretty basic at 3.2 inches but it was once a gorgeous looking screen and I tell you the iPhone screen will also look basic after some 10 years. The system uses a resistive touchscreen which theoretically needs some pressure to register the touches but this screen is smooth and one won’t feel like exerting any pressure on the screen to register the touches. This much smoothness after 10 years is really amazing. Though it had some issues with the accuracy but selecting on the large icon had no problem with that. The fact is only noticeable when we used it to select the letters from the onscreen keyboard.

Below the main display there is a touch sensitive pad with a home and option selection on the left side and a calculator and search selection space on the right side. At the middle there is a space to write which will be recognized by the handwriting recognition system which is again divided into two parts - one for entering the letters and another for entering the digits.


Remember that handwriting recognition was at its infancy when you incorporated this feature into it and from that perspective it worked more than enough. There are some specific patterns which you have to follow to get you to recognize the correct letter. But we had some problems with the the letters ‘k’, ‘x’, and sometime trying to write ‘B’ resulted in ‘R’. Also the onscreen keyboard was cramped and did not have the amount of accuracy needed to type it fast. Writing digits on the other hand was no problem whether on the handwriting recognition system or on the onscreen keyboard.


You had a 33 MHz 32bit Motorola DragonBall VZ MC68VZ328 Processor and those like Omnia having 624 MHz Processor, may laugh at you but they can’t imagine how fast it is to run a PDA of this caliber. It has 8MB Memory and Palm OS to boot it. There are many ways to connect to you, such as USB, Infrared and Serial Connection.

You had a nice home screen interface filled up with different widgets which can be categorized with different categories like Main, Systems, Utilities, Games etc. Your home screen could show at most 12 icons in its home screen with a scrollbar for viewing more widgets. The standard widgets are there as well like Address Book, Calculator, City Time, Date Book, Date Book +, Expense List, Graffiti, Hotsync, Mail, Memo Pad, Prefs, Security and after scrolling I could see two more namely To Do List and Welcome.

It was quite nice spending some time with you after so many years and to my excitement I also found you in our Amazon Store. I am thinking to spend some time with your little brother there very soon. Bye for now.

Take Care,


Your friend at Gadgetophilia.


May 18, 2010: 3:16 am

I’m still using the Visor :).. and judging from fellow ebay bidders, i’m not the only one.

will not be displayed