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New Handspring PDA with a Twist?

Mon Apr 15, 2002 - 11:37 PM EDT - By Michael Ducker

UPDATE: While checking out other PDA sites after I wrote this article, I came upon PalmInfoCenter's take on this. Allen Bush from Handspring emailed them to say: "The new device Donna mentioned today in our conference call is in fact an organizer, not a wirelessly enabled device... What we meant was that the product could borrow some of the design characteristics of our communicator family - not that it would be wirelessly enabled."

This doesn't mean that it can't have Bluetooth as the rest of my article dreams of (PalmInfoCenter's original psots were talking about Voice-wireless), but it more likely points out that Handspring will introduce a PDA with a built in QWERTY keyboard, much like the Treo's. The orginal text of my commentary follows.

"We are not abandoning the organizer market".

These critical words came from Donna Dubinsky during Handspring’s Q3 conference call. Amid Treo sales figures and new objectives, this little statement slipped out into the open, along with the more powerful statement that Handspring expects to "ship a new organizer product later this quarter which fits into the communicator product strategy".

What does this mean?

This new product will not be a Visor. Handspring claims that it is not radical yet it is differentiated from the rest of Palm OS based organizers. But it will also fit into Handsprings communicator strategy - could it be the long imagined Twist?

Here's my take on it. To fit into both the organizer market and the communicator line it will have some form of voice or data, not both. It will not be at the same levels as the Treo - most likely this new product will be a Palm OS based PDA with built in 802.11b, or built in Bluetooth.

I can easily imagine Apple and Handspring working together with Bluetooth. There have long been rumors of Apple trying to buy Handspring. Handspring was the first Palm OS licensee to include Apple drivers with the PDA, so why not introduce Bluetooth into a PDA with built in support with OS 10.1.3? Apple has been working with Bluetooth; they are beta testing the software and selling a USB adaptor

A Bluetooth PDA would not need to have a cradle, in fact eventually Handspring could probably get away with not even including a Bluetooth USB adaptor in the box, since within a couple of years Bluetooth will become common place.

The Visor has one built in function of just being a PDA, and the Treo has three. It is just logical that the middle ground device will include data. The reason that this would be 802.11b or Bluetooth is that the Treo provides wireless data capability, and especially with GPRS coming soon there is no reason for Handspring to replicate that.

A Palm OS PDA with built in 802.11b isn’t on the market yet, but it wouldn't be revolutionary as there are already adapters for most PDAs. If it were 802.11b you could use the PDA like a web pad throughout the house. If it was Bluetooth, syncing would become nonexistent - when you get in range with your computer and stay put, the Visor would sync automatically. Palms one touch becomes “one touch to much”.

Since the new device wouldn't be a Visor, it is is likely that it will not have a springboard. However, it could be in color. Just think of a Visor Edge, with built in wireless and the screen of the Treo 270, which is rumored to be a good screen. Think. Discuss. Make pictures. This is no April fools joke, Handspring is making a new device that could just perfectly be what many users are hoping for.

It could be released by the end of May. I'm thinking it will be $399, and will be released the week before mother’s day. Let’s hope to see it sooner.


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