Handspring Gets FCC Approval for Two Wireless Handhelds

Handspring has received approval from the Federal Communications Commission for not one but two new wireless handhelds. Unlike the just revealed Palm i705, these can handle both data and voice.

One model, the Treo k180, has a built-in keyboard like the Blackberry pager. In fact, it is the first PalmOS device ever to not have a Graffiti area at all. The other model, the Treo g180, relies on the traditional Graffiti for text input..

Both allow Web surfing via Handspring's Blazer. They also come with an SMS application.

Possibly the most shocking part of the Treo series is that neither model has a Springboard slot. This is a huge departure for Handspring, as the Springboard expansion slot has always been what they used to differentiate themselves from other PalmOS handhelds.

In another big change, these are also the first Handspring models to have a jog wheel, which the company calls a Jog Rocker.

They have 160 by 160 monochrome screens and have a vibrating ringer, which doesn't appear to be able to also be used as with alarms.

They use li-ion rechargeable batteries. The batteries are good for two hours of talk time and 72 hours on standby. The manual says the batteries can be fully charged in only an hour. Their Power Adapter can be plugged directly into the handheld.

The four buttons across the front are now Phone, DateBook Plus, Blazer, and SMS.

On the top is the power button, an infrared port, the antenna, a switch to turn the ringer off, and a single LED used to indicate both battery status and whether the device is in range of a transmitter.

In yet another example of how Handspring has thrown out the rule book, holding down the Power button now turns the radio on or off. The Power button must be hit twice to control the backlight.

In a move that many may not like, neither model comes with a cradle. Instead, they use a HotSync cable that the Power Adapter plugs into. They support USB though a serial version of the cable will be available.

Mobile Phone
Handspring had added an application to let the Treo models be used as mobile phones. This app is launched with the Phone button, which replaces the Address Book button on the front of the unit. It offers speed dialing as well as a traditional on-screen keypad.

If the phone is ringing, just opening the cover will answer the call. In fact, just opening the cover will turn on the handheld at any time and closing it back will turn it off.

The cover acts as the earpiece when using these as a mobile phone. There is also a headphone jack. The large window in the cover allows the phone to be used with the lid closed by using the jog wheel to pick a number from the speed dial list .

The user manual for the Treo k180 that is part of Handspring's FCC filing is very light on information about wireless e-mail, hardly even mentioning e-mail at all. However, at this time these devices appear to lack the "always on" e-mail capability of the not yet released Palm i705.

Handspring has not yet said when these will be available and hasn't even officially admitted these exist. Donna Dubinsky Handspring's CEO, has said that her company is working on handhelds with built-in wireless capabilities that they will release before the end of the year. There is no word on prices, either.

Other details that will probably have to wait for the official unveiling include whether thse devices will be able to share any peripherals with other Handspring models, like styli and cradles. Obviously, cases are out.

Before anyone makes any conclusions about the looks or specifications for these devices, keep in mind this is based on very preliminary information from the FCC documents. -Ryan

We have recieved a request from Handspring to remove some of the details and photos that originally appeared in this article. Handspring also asked the FCC to remove the info that they mistakenly made public and they complied. Handspring described the info obtained from the FCC filing "very preliminary and also very competitively sensitive". They convinced us that toning down this article a bit was the best thing to do and therefore some info that was previously available has been removed. Just so we're clear, there were no threats; they just asked nicely.

Thanks to Tipton and ollopiz for the tip, and to everyone who has helped comb through the FCC filing for details. -Ed

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nice handheld

tritan @ 8/28/2001 11:30:03 PM #
I like this design.I love the flip top like the I1000 nextels.Sweet. I hope they are going to release there newest handhelds first.

RE: nice handheld
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 11:49:13 PM #
What do you mean?

RE: nice handheld
Trevethan @ 8/29/2001 6:30:01 AM #
Can anybody say "Kirk to Enterprise"?

This looks like a great machine.
It would be nice to see some memory expansion possibilities though.
Because its GSM, you can easily fake always on performance using SMS alerts for e-mails and so.
GPRS would be nice though....

Nick Trevethan


RE: nice handheld but...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 8:19:24 AM #
... it's known that Handspring has had product quality problems in the past. And it's believed that this stems from their manufacturing processes and component selection.

While this is a nice device, there are some concerns from a quality standpoint. For example, the fliptop seems to have clear plastic hinges. Clear plastics to me have always been brittle, or seem brittle This may not be a very good idea in the final product. I can see several users sending their devices back for service because they've snapped off the tops.

Additionally, if this device has any flaws at all, will Handspring be able to survive the financial rigours of a product recall or major replacement drive? Remember that these won't be the relatively cheap mobile devices that Nokia and Ericsson produce - these will be PDA's with more costly components. To compete with the Kyocera offering, Handspring's margins may have to be low as well, even though the phones operate on different bands - CDMA vs. GSM.

Handspring has gone back and redone the "sweaty screen" that people had issues with in the original VisorPhone. Phone functionality would probably be better implemented with a retractable earpiece.

And something I couldn't determine and haven't had the time to verify yet. Is the window in the flip cover an open hole, or is there something there to protect the screen? If there is just an open hole, I believe that we have an design problem. A touch screen, no matter how rugged, should really not go unprotected.

RE: nice handheld
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 10:39:38 AM #
"It is known" is a preamble to a sentance without any authority. In your case it was the preamble to an entire post without any value. I certainly don't mean to encourage you to post again, but exactly what were you smoking when you came up with that "open hole" idea? What kind of an idiot would even think that's a possibility?

RE: nice handheld
TheClone @ 8/29/2001 11:02:46 AM #
Why is an open hole an idiotic idea? It would allow the PDA functionality to be used without having to open flip cover. Also, if it is clear plastic, how can I interact with the device with the flip cover closed. Look at the Kyocera, the flip covers half the screen, but the remaining half is still usable when the flip is closed which is very useful.

RE: nice handheld
Islander @ 8/29/2001 2:52:31 PM #
This we know.
Cover open- device on.
Cover closed- device off.

This being the case, I doubt that there is an open hole to worry about.

RE: nice handheld
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 3:03:42 PM #
Because Ed warned us not to make conclusions over the design, and that's exactly what you did.

RE: nice handheld
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 5:16:07 PM #
Why's the guy (or girl) an idiot? Firstly, Handspring has had a quality issue with their devices from day one. People have had Visors stop functioning within a week, they've been sent replacement devices and have had to return those too. Most recently, there've been digitizer issues with the Edge model. See http://www.jimweller.net/article.php?sid=15 as an example.

RE: nice handheld
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 7:07:10 PM #
If all of Handspring's Devices had problems, then they would not be in business right now. Every company have problem units. FWIW I have never had any problems witrh any of my Visors. I now have a Prism but I had a Deluxe and Platinum in the past.

RE: nice handheld
Trevethan @ 8/30/2001 3:50:56 AM #

Palm/3com/USR have also had problems...

The first Palmpilot Professional I bought last century (!) stopped working within about 10 minutes of taking it out of the box.. On the other hand, the Virsor Deluxe and Visor Prism I own have both worked flawlessly... Its the luck of the draw... Any mass produced, complex device is going to throw up problem units...

Handspring stands behind their products. And their return policy ensures you aren't left device-less for weeks on end.

Anyway, the person making the post questioning quality is basing his judgement on a picture or two.

Why not wait until you get your hands on it before leaping to conclusions?

Nick Trevethan


All I want for Christmas is ...

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 11:49:46 PM #
High-res 16-bit Color

Landscapable screen w/ virtual graffiti

More built in RAM

A reliable wireless network

A land-based modem for when I'm vacationing where there are no reliable wirless networks


and 7 of 9

RE: All I want for Christmas is ...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 1:00:17 PM #
...and higher screen resolutions and faster processors

Shea Vs m705i

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 11:56:13 PM #
Which one do you think will win out?

RE: Shea Vs m705i
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 11:57:28 PM #
Its late, 7 of 9

RE: Shea Vs m705i
AriB @ 8/29/2001 12:22:39 AM #
the Yankees of course!

RE: Shea Vs m705i
Davy @ 8/29/2001 6:54:23 PM #
Not that Yankees! The Lakers! Three-peat!


I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 11:56:14 PM #
I can't believe these.
I know there's gonna be 800 fellow tekkie-geeks tearing these things a new orifice for not being everything a boy could want. But let me be the first to say that I am grateful to be living in the time in science when all of this is coming to fruition. I bet they had similar (albeit greater) feelings of witness during the birth of cars.

I looked at the pics of these and the i705, then I looked down and my IIIc and giggled. I have a Handera in the mail on it's way to my office tomorrow. Giggle.

It's only been a year, and I'm already retro-tech!

I don't care what the haters say. This is great ****.

Hells yeah.


digichimp @ 8/29/2001 1:12:31 AM #
I've have been following Palm and their licensees for years and I've never seen anything like this expose' of product. I am so giddy with excitement and anticipation. This is ******* awesome!
Way to go Ed and PalmInfoCenter.

now u can have your choice, if you're phonecentric or emailcentric

life is good.

Long live Palm OS

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 5:17:37 AM #
I hate living in a time where every company's goal is to have people sign up for the latest dumb subscrption based service. What idiotic thing do you think they'll find next to rip you off for $50 a month for? Add in some sign-up and disconnect fees too. Yawn.

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/14/2001 7:13:01 PM #
I agree with the general comment about subs-based systems. However you're off base in this case. It's a GSM phone, so you take your SIM card from your existing handset and stick it into the HandSpring device. You are already paying for your phone service aren't you...?

No Springboard, hmm?

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 12:04:33 AM #
From glancing at the photos, it seems that these will be the first units from Handspring not to sport a Springboard slot (not even the mini "Edge connector").

In fact, these units are really Palm OS based smartphones, direct competitors to the Kyocera 6035 and the upcoming Samsung i300. Time will tell how they compare against those units, but this seems to suggest a bit of a shift in Handspring's emphasis.

Could this be the end for the Springboard expansion format? Considering how few Springboards ever managed to ship, it wouldn't be terribly surprising if true.

RE: No Springboard, hmm?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 5:10:36 AM #
This is another great examples of "Symplicity."

HandSpring, or used-to-be-Palm, has something special that Micro$oft will never learn, is that HandSpring knows how to take things out. HandSpring takes unnecessary things out to make its PDA simple and clear.

We know that SpringBoard are nice, but can you imagine how much a cell-phone PDA and SpringBoard module plugged-in weights and how large it's going to be? They already learned a lesson by their VisorPhone that it's too big and too complicated to dial a number.

Great Job, HandSpring!

R.I.P. Springboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 8:34:58 AM #
It looks like the Springboard is dead. It's too bulky and Game-boy'ish. The latest models from Handspring either do not utilize it well or do not use it at all. The hardware got rolling but not as quickly as it might have.

Who knows whether SD will catch on, either. Perhaps all this expansion is geek-oriented but doesn't appeal to the average user. Who really wants to carry a fanny-pack around to use their PDA?

RE: No Springboard, hmm?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 9:23:35 AM #
But with Moore's law, is there any need to take out unnecessary things? I know Moore's law doesn't apply to batteries, but...

RE: No Springboard, hmm?
AriB @ 8/29/2001 4:39:51 PM #
well think about it this way. if you installed a modem or a visorphone you wouldn't have any free springboard slots. Well this already has a modem and a phone and 16 megs. So it's as if you had several springboards in one so there's less reason to add a seperate springboard slot. On the other hand, Palm is able to stick an SD slot into the m705 which gives you a lot more memory but it will be a while before you have a video camera and gps in your Palm

RE: No Springboard, hmm?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/30/2001 1:21:20 PM #
Handspring invented the Springboard specifically for the VISOR line of products. Hence the "Visor Is...Whatever You Want It to Be" ad campaign. This is the TREO line of products--no Springboard. Springboard is NOT dying; it's simply not on this particular Handspring unit.

This isn't Star Trek, and my wife isn't 7 of 9.

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 12:10:14 AM #
The PDA with the nicest color screen is not wireless capable.

The smallest PDAs are not color, and when you add wireless capability to them they are no longer small.

The best wireless PDAs are neither color nor small.

Nice girls are not beautiful, and beautiful girls are not nice.

PDAs are getting better but these rules still seem to apply.

RE: This isn't Star Trek, and my wife isn't 7 of 9.
robrecht @ 8/29/2001 12:21:12 AM #
It seems as if the Prism is still the best compromise. That's why Handspring hasn't dropped the price yet.

And 7 of 9 has lots of Borg Springboard module enhancements.

RE: This isn't Star Trek, and my wife isn't 7 of 9.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 5:04:36 PM #
Just because a pretty girl does not like you does not mean she is mean.

Are pretty girls the last people on earth you can be bigoted to? Unfair generalizations are unfair generalizations no matter what group they are leveled against, even in jest.

RE: This isn't Star Trek, and my wife isn't 7 of 9.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 6:27:36 PM #
The "nice girls" example is an example of elementary logic. Examples like that are used to teach rudimentary symbolic logic to freshmen in college. You must be a mean girl. LOGIC BIGOT!!!!

RE: This isn't Star Trek, and my wife isn't 7 of 9.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 6:28:19 PM #
I'm sorry that my immature remarks offended some people. It was very late and I was in a whacky mood. Of course, I was indeed only speaking in jest, but that is no excuse for my ridiculously unfair generalizations. I will be more careful about editing myself in the future.

RE: This isn't Star Trek, and my wife isn't 7 of 9.
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/4/2001 12:58:46 PM #
why do nice girls ( or even pretty girls) keep going back to the guy that treats them bad. why are most of the nice guys single? is life really binary? what is the natural color of my hair? does my boss read all my posts as well as my email? is he watching me now? who is 7 of 9?

No Springboard slot

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 12:09:33 AM #
I wouldn't doubt if these had 16MB...since there looks to be no springboard slot. Of course this is all speculation.

I do however think that the wireless outlook [Palm and Handspring models] is looking pretty sweet right now....you gotta love that! I can hear the pitch to my boss now...

RE: No Springboard slot
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 12:25:57 AM #
And I'm sure its 16-bit high-res color. And I'm sure CDMA is just around the corner.


cashman @ 8/29/2001 12:18:44 AM #
I'd be interested to know if these phones support GPRS, the 2.5G always-on packet-based upgrade to GSM. That would greatly increase the utility of the data portion, and make these units much more competitive against the i705 and the Blackberry.

AT&T has a pilot network operating commercially in Seattle now, and both Cingular and VoiceStream are in testing mode. If their plans go as announced for once, most of the US should be covered by GPRS by the end of 2002, at 800 and 1900 MHz. (The older cellular systems in the US have always been referred to as "800 MHz", whether analog, CDMA or TDMA. They are now trying GSM on the same frequencies, but the GSM naming convention will call these "850 MHz". Go figure.)

Most of Europe is already covered by GPRS, of course, though at 900 and 1800 MHz frequencies. I presume Handspring will have version for our friends across the pond?


Token @ 8/29/2001 12:38:39 AM #
FWIW - According to the CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association), Cingular have gone live in Seatlle with "large scale" 2.5G trials. Difference between the AT&T and Cingular trials are that AT&T are targetting corporates (hmmm, MS?) while Cingular are targetting "consumers" ...

These new devices look great - but I pray that they are GPRS based. I wouldn't be surprised if they are rolled out concurrently with the Cingular 2.5G network.

With the VisorPhone being a "World Phone" (tri band GSM), I would be surprised if these ones aren't ready for global markets. Makes Palms Mobitex offering look like too little too late (unless the i705 IS colour).


Ed @ 8/29/2001 1:02:02 AM #
To be honest, I can't follow the frequency jargon that the FCC uses so I don't know whether these are dual-band or tri-band GSM phones. If anyone can find and decipher this info, I'd really appreciate it. Sorry but it's not my area of expertise.

News Editor
bcombee @ 8/29/2001 3:19:59 AM #
One of the declarations clearly stated that they would be 1900 MHz in the US and 900 MHz outside; its dual-band, but it should work anywhere in the world as no one is implementing 1800 MHz GSM where there isn't already 900 MHz coverage.

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/29/2001 3:21:43 AM #
Got news for all of you. I work for Rogers AT&T in Canada and we're now testing the 900/1900Mhz GSM/GPRS network which will launch (for business and consumer users) this October 10/2001! AT&T in the USA should have the same timeline as on their website its listed and ours isn't...yet!

Rogers AT&T: both companies being joint, but the wireless division in Canada is privately financed seperate from Rogers &/ AT&T (recently but doesn't affect consumers in anyway)!, have plans to add EDGE technology over GPRS raising data transfer speeds to 384Kbps. before the end of 2002!!

Hows that taste!!!!

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