Works with Visor, Deluxe, Platinum, Neo, Pro and Prism
by TT Tech
Bringing Shock Vibration Technology to the Visor, SnapNPlay delivers the action straight to the handheld computer gamer.
The eight directional D-pad and two fire buttons make it easy and more fun to play your favorite game on your Visor . Just snap it on, choose a game and your hand movements will be translated directly into gaming actions!
8 directions D-pad & 2 fire buttons
"key Mapping" software enhances game compatibility
Shock Vibration Technolgy
Virbration on/off switch
Uses one AAA battery for vibration
||Great Potential, OK Implementation
| Aside from a GPS unit, or that funky massager, the Snap N Play game attachment is one of the neatest gizmos you can get for your visor, if youre lucky enough to find one. For me, finding one to review took over a month tracking down leads until I eventually happened to find it abroad. Most people wont have the same options. The base price for the unit is about $30, though import fees and duties (not to mention shipping) could probably double this amount. When I got it, I immediately installed the single AAA battery required and started testing it. The unit has several great features which are dragged back by some not so great features. Its enough to make you wonder if this thing was made by two teams with two different goals in mind. The Basics: The unit is about the size of a SnapNType keyboard which is no surprise since they are both produced by TT Tech. It is made in an attractive silver color with translucent sides which for some reason didnt look quite as nice with my Visor Prim as the Gameface attachment had. Maybe its because the buttons were gray instead of dark blue. In any case, it works with any Visor handheld except the Edge. It comes with a 3.5 inch diskette with the current drivers which you install in the usual way through a hotsync. Once installed, the driver places an icon titled SnapNPlay on your handheld. You must select this program and activate the driver before you can use the unit. Once you do this, you snap the SnapNPlay on to the bottom of your Visor and start playing. When done, you must disable the driver and THEN firmly tug the SnapNPlay off your visor. I cannot state strongly enough how important it is to disable the driver FIRST, since failing to do so during my testing actually caused a hard reset requiring me to re-load all my applications and data. Just to be on the safe side, you might want to hotsync before you install the driver. The unit is powered by your Visor, but uses one AAA battery for its shock vibration feature. I dont have any data for how long this battery will last because I mostly had this feature turned off (more on that later). This all sounds simple enough and it is, but as in everything , the devil is in the details, and for every postive aspect of the SnapNPlay there is an annoying one as well. Cover: The unit ships with a translucent molded plastic protector to cover the top and back portion when not in use. The unit encircles the Visor around three sides and the bottom, and therefore has a large opening on the backside. You would expect any such protector to snap in place and stay there till removed, but the one provided is just a littlle too small on every side and will actually fall off if you hold the unit upside down and shake it. When in place, the protector can actually wiggle from side to side. The sides of the unit are semi flexible to accomodate different sizes of visor units (if you remember the Prism is a bit fatter than the other visors), so this is probably a side effect of having to design a unit that fits most visor models. Driver: The driver only takes about 14 Kb. It is simple enough to enable and disable, having two virtual buttons which are clearly marked. It also has the options for you to remap the keys. According to the TT Tech website and the istruction sheet, the unit works by simulating the commands given by the various buttons on your pda when you press the appropriate part of the controller. If you go to preferences on the driver, it will allow you to chose whether you want it to work through the poll key method, or the key event method. The company website does a good job of explaining the differece in their FAQs located at (http://www.tt-tec.com/html/Support/FAQ/T102_FAQ.htm ), but suffice it to say that it depends on how the game you want to play was written and the SnapNPlay may not be compatible with all games. Much to TT Tech s credit, the website also has a list of games they tested and verified to be 100% compatible. This list is complete with download links for you to purchase or download the games, though you have to search through their site to find it and some of the links were dead when I last checked it. this list is at http://www.tt-tec.com/html/Support/FAQ/game%20list%201120.htm. Driver Issues: The fact that you have to enable and disable the driver to use the unit seems to go against the whole idea of convenience that PDAs were built around, but getting past that, there are a couple of other annoying problems with the driver for the SnapNPlay. For games that are compatible with it, the SnapNPlay works perfectly, but if you have all your games set up for use with a Handspring Gameface, youre in for a surprise. The default settings on the SnapNPlay are different than the settings you would need to use the Gameface. Since the Gameface uses a mechanical joystick physically pusing the four center buttons, games using it have to be set up to respond to the four central buttons (up, down, address book, to do) as the four directions of motion, the SnapNPlay, however uses the calendar and address book buttons for left and right and the to do and memo buttons for fire1 and fire2 (up and down are still up and down). This is the default settings on some games, but if you have been using a gameface, you probably changed them long ago. To solve this problem, the SnapNPlay allows you to remap what keys it uses to work with how you have your games set. Remapping the SnapNPlay to match the gameface wouldnt be a problem if it were a one time event, but the SnapNPlay driver annoyingly goes back to the defaults every time you either enable or disable it. You could chose to just keep it enabled at all times, but this is a partial solution at best since in the meantime you lose the ability to hotsync via a serial cradle or cable or to use the IR port (hotsync via USB is still ok). The ability to change the defaults or keep the remapped keys after an activation or deactivation event should have been a no-brainer. Here there is clearly the need for a driver update. I suppose this might be nitpicking, since you could always remap the keys on the game youre playing, but then you would give up the ability to use a Gameface without having to remap it again. Im the type that likes to have it both ways, and I just dont like the idea of giving up one option even if in favor of a better one. I guess if all you ever get is the SnapNPlay this wont be a problem unless your game is incompatible. You could also remap some games to use exclusively with the SnapNPlay and keep some to use exclusively with the Gameface, but it sure would have been nice to have the option of either one simultaneously, especially given the fact that it would have been so seemingly simple to do. Gameplay: During gameplay, the unit is everything it claims to be with one. The feel of the circular gamepad control is smooth and soft, and much better than the gamepad provided by a GameFace with the joystick removed. The fire buttons are equally appealing, having the appropriate tactile feel. When attached to a Visor, this unit makes it look like a super high tech gaming unit, though it doesnt blend in as naturally as the Gameface does (it is most definitely an attachment). The curved bottom allows you to hold it like you would any hand held game unit. The controls are responsive and really do make any (compatible) game more enjoyable. There is no annoying clicking feel like with the Gameface since this unit takes the alternate approach of an electrical connection versus just a mechanical one. The SnapNPlay also has a front mounted button to bring down the menu on the game youre playing, as well as a Home button and a power button to turn your PDA off. The inclusion of these was a particularly nice surprise, especially since some games require you to tap the calendar area of the graffiti panel to bring down the menu, and this area is completely covered by the SnapNPlay. Somebody was obviously paying attention. Shock Vibration: Where this unit falls short of its claims is in its much bragged about additional feature; sock vibration technology. The unit has a built in shock vibration feature that theoretically gives you an experience similar to force feedback on some modern PC joysticks. In theory, when youre playing a game where you experience a crash or an expolsion, the unit will vibrate to give you an added sensory input and enhance your game experience. In practice though, it doesnt work quite as well. The way the unit decides when to vibrate is based entirely on sound. If you play a game with continuous sound such as Zap 2000/2016, the unit will continue to vibrate at all times. An annoyance to say the least. The driver allows you to chose the level of vibration or turn it off alltogether, but one of the other well thought out features of the SnapNPlay is that a front mounted button allows you to turn the vibrations off with a single push. The TT Tech website mentions work on a driver that would make distinctions between appropriate sounds, but one wonders how this would be implemented. Reallistically, if all you have to go on is sound, how do you know when you should feel a shock or not? On my unit, I tend to turn this feature off as soon as I attach it to my Visor Prism. This is a nifty feature that I fear may not get used too much. Coincidentally, this feature is the only reason you need the AAA battery. Cases: Like any mini keyboard, the SnapNPlay adds a significant amount of size to your Visor (in PDA terms anyway). I do not know of any conventional PDA holders that will hold a Visor with the SnapNplay attached. Furthermore the included cover as well as the instructions makes it clear that the SnapNPlay was never intended to be kept on the Visor at all times. The unit itself is small enough to fit in a very small pouch. I keep mine in the same small leather pouch as my Gameface attachment along with a couple of other small Visor accessories. Conclusion: SnapNPlay is one of the hardest items to categorize I have ever reviewed. When set up correctly and working, its one of the best, coolest, and coolest looking things you could get for your Visor (if you are able to track one down). The combination of well though out features as well as others not as well thought out, however drag its score down in my book. I still give it a thumbs up overall since if you want to have it all, you really cant be without this, but its annoying to try out an item of such great potential which was implemented so relatively poorly. Aside from the driver issues, I am particularly perplexed as to why TT Tech chose not to ship the unit with at least one good game that was compatible with it right out of the box. Ironically, the best game experience I had with this unit was with Zap 2016, which was the game I received free with the Handspring Gameface. Who knows, Maybe TT Tech will read this review and come up with a better driver for this unit, bundle a great game and make it available in the US, thus making it a complete must have. For now, however it falls short of a perfect score.