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  • Software emulates a COM port - not true USB
  • Charge LED doesn't indicate charge status

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Visor and Clié USB HotSync & Charger Cables Review
By Robert Zach
8/25/2001


Brando just doesn't stop!  His latest gadgets are USB HotSyncing and Charging cables - this time for the Handspring Visor and the Sony Clié series.  These special cables have the appropriate clip-on ends for the two handheld devices.  The other ends have gold-plated USB connectors.

Installation is identical to the Palm V cable I reviewed, simple and efficient - the software provides an emulated COM port.

As with the original Palm V cable, the green button launches a HotSync operation and houses a green LED that indicates the Palm is recharging.  However, the original two red LEDs (that has indicated "TX" (transmit) and "RX" receive) are now gone.  I must say I'm happy about this.  I never did need them for "troubleshooting" - this thing just works! - and they make the "dongle" portion of the cable much smaller and compact.  See my other review for a size comparison.

My mileage varied on charge length but on average I think you're looking at 3-4 hours to top off or freshen on a normal day. According to Brando, these cables require about 10 hours to fully charge a completely flat battery.

In the last review, the green charging indicator didn't work, this was not a problem with either of these two cables.  This must have been an isolated manufacturing defect (Brando did offer to replace the original - but I didn't see the need).

I do however still have the same issues (and one is the the reason I say "I didn't see the need" above).  The first issue is that the charge light does not indicate any status.  It is green when charging...all the time.  I would still like to see a light that would glow green when charging then turn off when complete - or indicate nothing then glow green when fully charged.   The other issue I still have is in the driver software - when not using the cable every time HotSync starts up it remembers the last port selected and you get the "COM5 [in my case] unavailable" warning.

All in all, these type of cables are and extremely convenient, all-in-one, way to carry a HotSync cable and charger in a highly portable fashion.  The Visor version, at $18.00 US, is an especially great value - a must have for travelers.

If you don't have one - get one!

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Anyone Tried These With A Mac?

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 11:48:36 AM #
Hello there! I am using a Clie N710-C with a Mac, and the software from MarkSpace to do the synching is working like a charm.

However, I would love a cable that does the charging as well as the synching, instead of having to carry around that damn cradle with my iBook.

Anyone used or tested these cables with a Mac? Just curious if there are drivers/extensions needed to use the cable, or if its just plug-and-play...

Thanks!

RE: Anyone Tried These With A Mac?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 10:30:32 PM #
Brando's got a good joint.

The Visor cable for my Prism arrived in about two days. It syncs and charges the Prism with my PowerBook perfectly. The difference in recharging speed (if any) is negligible.

I used to carry my PB, the charger and the USB cable on trips. This should make things a little simpler and besides, the Visor traveling charger was a huge wall wart without folding prongs(?!).

I also use a Vaja case and I never liked having to take the Prism out of the case to sync and charge it in the cradle. Now, I just plug this cord through the cutout in the bottom of the case. One thing to remember: don't let the computer sleep if you want to charge the Visor overnite, it needs the juice from the USB.

I give it five little mousies.

Visor

RoofusPennymore @ 8/27/2001 3:09:09 PM #
"the software provides an emulated COM port"

I'm assuming nothing special is need for the Visor. This cable should act just like the orginal USB cable that came with the Visor.

RE: Visor
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 11:04:01 PM #
Yes, with the Visor, it's Plug and Play!

No required software for Clie

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/27/2001 11:20:33 PM #
What special software is he talking about? The 710C Clie always emulates a serial port via USB because it uses version 3.5.2 of Palm OS. This is transparent to the user and using the Brano cable doesn't change anything or require any special software. (My guess is he mixed up his review of the Palm V version with the Clie/Visor versions...)

My only complaint with this excellent cable is that it is physically a bit too long for a travel cable (maybe 5'?), but I love it regardless.


RE: No required software for Clie
Rob @ 8/28/2001 10:05:56 AM #
You are correct. There is no special software required for these two cables. My apologies for the confusion.

However, I did notice on the Visor that on occasion Windows would get confused and be looking for the USB driver that is installed with the Desktop.

For the record, I am not actually running the Handspring desktop. I am running Palm's 4.01.

I usually use PInstall to just install apps. If I run this to HotSync the Visor, and select USB, all works just fine with this cable. No "special" software (except for whatever PInstall does), and the transfer is very fast.

-Rob

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