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Handspring Visor Platinum Review
By Robert Zach
3/26/2001


Up until now I have mostly focused hardware reviews (PDA devices) around the Palm brand.  As you probably know Handspring recently released the Visor Edge, in preparation for that review, and to kind of kick off some forthcoming series of Handspring reviews, Handspring has loaned Palm Infocenter a Visor Platinum for review.

The Handspring Visor Platinum is a silver streaking machine.  It's an all silver (except for the screen cover and stylus unfortunately) Visor Deluxe on steroids.  This upgraded Handspring device is running PalmOS 3.5.2.H on a 33 MHz Dragonball processor.

The items above are essentially the only difference between the Platinum and the Visor Deluxe, but boy do they make for a much nicer user experience.  

Handspring  claims the Platinum is 50% faster than the Visor Deluxe. 

Now with Palm OS 3.5.2H, the Visor comes into the latest OS arena.  I'm glad to be away from OS 3.1 - of course if there were Flash ROM this wouldn't be an issue since upgrades would be possible (yes, minor updates are possible - patches, but not major OS versions).  The IR HotSyncing is a welcome addition as well as the OS 3.5 task bar items.  Of course 8Meg is still standard.

If you upgrade from a Visor Deluxe, and I suggest you do if you still haven't found a use for color, you WILL find a use for the Platinum's added speed. Some applications; however, check that your current applications will run under PalmOS 3.5.  Fortunately, thanks to the SpringBoard "standard" most modules should work just fine, although again some modules' software may need upgrading for PalmOS 3.5. And, while you're looking for software updates, get some 4-bit grayscale apps while you're at it; it's not color but sure looks nice.

I ran some tests to check the 50% increased speed assertion.  Looks like that claim is pretty darned close!  At least this speeding won't get you a ticket ;-)

With the Visor Deluxe down to $199 with a $50 rebate this makes the Visor Platinum  now a $100 premium.  At a $50 premium the price seemed to make sense, but now there seems quite a price gap.  Maybe the release of the Visor Edge will also cause a $50 drop in the Platinum. Oh, and the "Platinum" now also comes in Graphite ;-)

Above are screen grabs of the "Enhanced Datebook" and "Advanced Calculator"

Click for larger image

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Why would you pay 100$ for speed?

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/27/2001 1:08:12 AM #
The Platinum is basically the same exact thing as a Visor Deluxe, with a speed increase that probably doesn't make a difference in 99% of PalmOS apps...

RE: Why would you pay 100$ for speed?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/27/2001 5:21:35 PM #
Not only that, you can make a Palm V/Vx and Visor Deluxe run FASTER than a Platinium easily
by loading the very nicely written Afterburner Hack. The Clock Speed of the Dragonball CPU's
is software selectable, thus you can set it for as high as 45 MHz if you really want to.

Afterburner is VERY stable and I've been running a Palm V for the last 6 months at 37 MHz with
no ill effects or crashes. In fact, I run it on my new Visor Edge at 37 MHz. This gives me a
benchmark performance of 270. If you register and pay for Afterburner, you can go as high as
45 MHz. YMMV

I agree with the above post that for most Palm OS programs, clock speed is highly irrelevent.
However, for large databases to load up or certain really big programs (like e-pocrates and QID,
both reall large medical references for the Palm PDA's), the start up time is reduced from around
5 seconds to almost instant. That to me is all the speed I need for now.

Dave

RE: Why would you pay 100$ for speed?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/11/2001 7:53:29 AM #
well there are more than meets the eye here.....

- OS 3.5.x adds a few nice features

- 4-bit grayscale support, ie 16 shades of gray

- Faster Processor

i think that warrants the extra cost



Get rid of deluxe!

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/27/2001 2:39:20 PM #
They should get rid of the deluxe and drop the price of the Platinum to $249.00.

AfterBurner

Edward @ 3/27/2001 7:54:58 PM #
Afterburner 3.0 can be used to reliably overclock older Palms to run as fast as the Platinum.
RE: AfterBurner
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/8/2001 6:36:02 PM #
Now, if they release a new afterburner, the platinum can be clocked even higher than 45. That's the idea. Finally, Liberty that plays at full speed!!!!!!

is it worth it?

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/27/2001 8:33:17 PM #
i have a vdx, and was wondering if i should upgrade to the platuinm. i know that i looks better but is it really worth the money. or should i just save to get the next color handspring (no palms for me). is the screen that much better then the vdx and does speed make any differnece?

RE: Why pay $100

Brad @ 3/28/2001 8:33:16 AM #
I've tried the Platinum & you would really like how fast “ordinary” apps become. A $50 premium made sense, with some over-clocking utils costing $30, but I would hesitate paying $100.

Visor & OmniSky

Gbert @ 3/28/2001 4:08:05 PM #
The review didn't mention that OmniSky runs on the Platinum & Prism but not on the Delux. The reason, says OmniSky, is an RF interference problem on the Delux & the original Visor.

Also, you may be able to upgrade a Delux from OS3.1 to 3.2. Palm's upgrade runs as an app in RAM, it does not load into flash ROM. Which means you must reinstall it if you have a hard reset.

I use 3.1 in my TRGpro & 3.2 in my Platinum & so far have not noticed any differences.

Visor Platinum

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/28/2001 10:19:46 PM #
The only thing I don't like about the Platinum is that the silver color is painted on. I've had my Platinum for about three months and the paint is wearing off on some edges, revealing a gray plastic case under it.

screen

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/29/2001 10:14:24 PM #
I know I have had to make Handspring replace mine because of the paint.
RE: screen
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/20/2001 8:51:34 PM #
similarly, i dumped my visor platinum (fake metal) for a palm v (real metal) because the thing is so shoddily built. It flexed and creaked when you held it...

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