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Handhelds Hardware

Good-Bye Nino; Hello from Handspring 124

arban writes "According to this article on CNET, Philips is discontinuing the Nino, their WinCE base machine. " Phillips is citing lack of sales and consumer response to WinCE machine. On the other side of the coin, Handspring has begun taking orders from their new Palm-OS handheld. Nice and cheap.
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Good-Bye Nino; Hello from Handspring

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  • Any chance that upgrading will be possible, but only by either sending the unit back to Handspring, or by going to an authorized installer? It's the old-fashioned way.
  • So, Phillips is dropping the Nino. I can't say I blame them. I have one, a 320, and am not sure I would buy another. It still functions as intended; there has only been one major data loss :-| and my backup was out of date. :-( My biggest gripe is the buttons on the side. Just picking it up can turn it on, even when it is in the case. It turns off again but it helps eat the batteries more quickly.

    My use of the Nino is nothing spectacular, mostly synching with Outlook, tracking lists of things, storing e-books and a few PocketStreet maps, though my move to Linux impacts this a bit. With a 48M CF card, it can hold a lot of books from project Gutenberg and a lot of maps. I haven't bought a paperback in quite a while. That's one of the reasons I got it in the first place, instead of a Palm that is, because I could easily expand the storage. Though it has less storage, maybe the Visor can take its place when I am ready for a replacement.

    As to the Nino being supported, I haven't needed support other than being able to download updated software. I hope Phillips does keep supporting it just for those already stuck with one, and for those involved with the LinuxCE effort. Of course, if they do stop support, it will also hurt the CE effort even more than just stopping sales. Consumers will realize that if one brand can drop out, so can others, and they will be left with no support. Not having such a variety of Palm brands, there hasn't been time for one of them to drop out yet. Given time, I'm sure that will happen, too.
  • by PalmFrEq ( 54485 ) on Thursday October 07, 1999 @12:33PM (#1630560)
    There are a handful of applications that offer syncronization between serial PalmOS devices (Visor will need the serial cradle). There's a buggy K app called KPilot. I believe GNOME also has an incomplete counterpart (of course). However, one of the BETTER Linux-Palm Desktop tools is JPilot. It has a built-in Datebook, To-Do List, MemoPad, and Address Book; all very similar to the Windows Palm Desktop suite. While not necessarily as sophisticated in it's syncing technique (basically copies the entire Pilot databases right off the Plot, rather than updates each database by individual records), it's very reliable, easy to use, and (here's the important part) complete to the point that you can use it on a daily basis. You'll need to install the Pilot-Link tools beforehand, but it's worth it!

    Check it out here: http://jpilot.linuxbox.com
  • ...but a keyboard means that I either have to put it down or try and balance it on one hand while typing with the other (I've seen it, and it's worth a laugh!) to use the thing on the move.

    This is a common comment on the subject of plamtop / PDA input devices, and all I can say is I've seen it done well, and I've seen it done bad.

    The Psion 5 and later are definitely designed to be used from a stable surface, no argument there. However, the HP95/100/200 series had excellent keyboards equally suited to both one-handed on-the-move and desktop usage - as long as you had small enough fingers to use them!.

    In particular, I'd point out the HP's well-thought out nice touches - like "sticky" shift / function keys, sensible key assignments for common punctuation, and in-built macro programming assignable to function keys(*) - that I really miss from my Psion 5. On the other hand, when I have a surface (which can be as "portable" as my lap), there's no question which is quicker.

    But I definitely fall into the category of "If god wanted me to write or do strange graffiti he'd not have invented QWERTY", so if you're comfortable with the idea of waving a metal rod / stick-with-carbon-insert around, ignore all of the above.

    (*) - OK this is more of a S/W issue than a keyboard issue. Forgive me for I have sinned


  • As with other Philips products, once they are discontinued, you are on your own. They will probally farm out support to a third party and charge $$$ for drivers and such.
  • The Palm IIIe/se is _not_ flash upgradeable, and I found this out thirty one days after buying it from a store with a thiry-day return policy :) Guess it's my own stupid fault for being an impulsive buyer, but 3.3 isn't that groundbreaking anyways. Faster Hotsync - yawn. If they'd come out with a USB cradle I'd be much, much happier. Downloading 1.5 megs of Avantgo everyday over a 115kbps serial link isn't fun, especially when pages start to timeout.
  • The extra ammount of memory and processing that is needed to power a WinCE device causes a fast drain of the batteries. I owned a Nec WinCE device once, and I had to replace the batteries every other week. Later, I upgraded to a PalmPilot. On the Pilot, the batteries last for several months. In my opinion, this is the biggest flaw with WinCE devices. I did like WinCE built in apps, though. They are pretty nice. (Although you can get similar functionality in the Pilot with 3rd party software.)
  • Yeah, it was doing that earlier today, but with a closed sign (no ethernet cable). I think the storefront software must have a bug (MS: 'an undocumented feature').
  • Although the code for Win CE might have been rewritten, it still uses the *same* API, then *same* system calls, the *same* architectures. The main difference from a users or a programmers view is that a bunch of functionality is missing and that the screen is tiny. The only poeple to whom 'rewritten' matters are those who ignore the end user or the programmer and instead focus on the OS.

  • The spinoff of Palm into its own publicly-traded company allows it to be nimble.. and makes it ripe for--or vulnerable to--a buyout.

    If PalmOS market share holds up for another year, and it may well do so with Handspring making cute models and Palm making corporate ones, and Symbol making vertical-market ones, and Qualcomm making kitchen-sink ones, we may see a AOL/Sun vs. Microsoft bidding war for Palm. Heck, the likes of Sony or Phillips might also be interested.
  • The Palm was never intended to be a replacement for a desktop computer [palm.com]. It's main purpose is to be an electonic diary you carry with you to synchronise with your Lotus Organizer or Claris Organizer (now called Palm Desktop [palm.com]), and Quicken [aj.com], etc.

    Admittedly, $AU800 for a Palm V is a little expensive, but I was sold on it because of a few little utilities I found on PalmGear [palmgear.com]:

    • Titrax [titrax.com] (hour tallying program)
    • PocketMoney [catamount.com] (keep track of my spending habits)
    • Strip [zetetic.net] (secure storage of my passwords)
    • Date Mate [palmmate.com] (make me remember birthdays!)
    • DiddleBug [simplenet.com] (paint package)
    • Nag Screen [simplenet.com] (really useful utility!)

    The Palm is supposed to be a data logger, with the processing being done on the desktop. There's no competition between Palm and Windows (besides, I use a Mac on my desktop).

    I looked at WinCE once and the interface was so familiar, I was waiting for the BSOD [ntbrad.com] (or h ere [sonic.net]). Microsoft's biggest mistake with WinCE was underestimating the emotional decision that a user makes based on previous experience with products that have the same interface (ie: Windows 95/98/NT).

    That, and the fact that a Palm III can run for weeks on one set of AAA batteries. A WinCE machine runs for maybe 6 hours. However, I got the Palm V with the rechargable Lithium-Ion battery (more dollars than sense). Besides, it looks sexy [palm.com] :P. Next on the list is a Sony Vaio [sony.com] (just like Steff's [userfriendly.org])
  • A few months ago Jesse of FUDnet was saying something along the lines of "by Christmas, I see the situation changing, with WinCE taking an accelerating lead over the PalmPilot", etc.
    Heh. I guess not.
  • Actually, there are many versions of Win32 floating around:

    * Windows NT (The Original Win32)

    * Win32s (A highly limited subset of NT's Win32)

    * Windows 95/98 (Closer to WinNT's win32 implementation, but not complete. Comes with certain win32 extensions that are brand new too!).

    * Windows CE (A subset of the win32 API.)

    Eek. Too many versions of Win32 floating around... No wonder things break so easily. (Yes, WinCE's win32 isn't a full API, but it's got more stuff than win32s).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The one feature I would really like to have is a GPS with street Maps for the World. If I could load the maps I needed through a wireless connection of some sort, I would always have a map of where I am. B&W would be preferable for battery reasons, but I would pay big cash for a system like that.

    I would like someone to develop one for the expansion slot in the Visor. Also, I would like to have my cellphone, my RIO, and my graphing calc built-in as well. And I would like to have a good entertainment pack with games like tetris, and Bomberman.

    So really what I want is a small GPS/Phone/Gameboy/Graphing Calc/Pilot/Voice Recorder/MP3 player/with 64 or 128MB of RAM that could also be used to transport data. And if you think about it, these devices could all fit togeather quite nicely. Liscence Palm's graphiti alphabet, or even the fast graphiti alphabet we had on Slashdot a while ago, and you would be set. This is definatly the way things are going, I bet we are about 3-5 years off of a device simmilar to this. Hey even the new 3dfx card is planned to have 128MB as an option, so I don't think that I am asking too much.

    Most of the new Windows CE machines are all in the 100Mhz+ range, and I should think that an imbedded processor should be able to handle my demands. I feel so demanding. But this is what I would like.


  • by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) on Thursday October 07, 1999 @09:13PM (#1630574)
    I see one of the biggest problems of Windows CE as being the damned GUI, which tends to be the problem with most versions of Windows. The Win32 API works marginally well on a low res desktop (remember Win95 at 640x480 resolution?) but on a screen that's much much smaller than your 13.1" monitor is just assanine. The PalmOS is a pretty much "perfect" operating system for palmtop computing, it's super easy to use, great interface on a small screen, and stable. There was an OS before Palm that did that, NewtonOS. I unfortunately was never able to get a Newton even though I really wanted one but I did have the opertunity to use one. If Apple brought the Newton back at a comparable price to the Visor or Palm I'd seriously consider one. If any palmtop designers are reading this, here is what I'd like to see in a palmtop:

    1. Easy access expansion slot (preferably a type 2 PC card slot) that can hold anything from flash memory to microdrives.

    2. A cradle that uses USB to recharge the batteries and synch it to my desktop or laptop. Not to mention an IrDA port on the corner of the device for use with my Powerbook's IrDA port (the corner so it has wider visibility).

    3. A really long battery life, somewhere in the range of weeks (one would be fine). I don't want a colour screen and have third party device manufacturers put little lithium ion batteries in their stuff so my handheld's batteries arent taxed to heck. Enforce a voltage limit of 3.3 and make your device run on 1.1v.

    4. Access to the sub-etha net and "Don't Panic" written plainly on the outside. Maybe include travel information for most of the galaxy.

    5. Team up with Victorinox to create a Swiss Army Palmtop complete with scissors, fish scaler, and modem.
    6. Wireless access given to me in the same fashion as text pager messages (think XML). I dont need cell phone capabilities but I would like be able to hand surf a handfull (pun intended) of web pages parsed to my viewing ability.
    I'm done.
  • Per Nino, Philips has to pay a $16 license fee to Micros~1. For PalmOS, it's $0.30.
  • I wish I could say the same. Well, the softmodem is a neat thing for sure, if they had delivered the connectivity kit for it (European version, you know). First it was promised to be delivered upon registration. Seven months and several mails about "stock problems" and still waiting. At least they confirmed I would not receive the CE 2.0 upgrade nor the additional memory.

    I hope they'll just stick with products they can make at least adequatelly, like lightbulbs.

    Oh well, at least I'm only on my second one, and the hinges are still holding. And I must say I do like it, and use it constantly.
  • You're missing the point. While it might technically have been "written from scratch" the design goal was to make it as similar as possible to desktop Windows. I'm not so much addressing the underlying architecture as the user interface, which is far more important on a PDA.

    The Windows interface might be great on a desktop (though personally I hate it) but it is way to complex for a PDA. Compare it to the simple, effective, consistant EPOC to see what I mean.

  • It was reasonably fast a couple of weeks back. I just think its all the traffic in the last couple of days. I couldn't even finish the ordering process when I tried yesterday.
  • Nnngghh! Second time posting this one as there appears to be a server bug that killed my last copy...

    Firstly, whoever moderated the above to zero should be very ashamed. It's a legitimate opinion, and if Slashdot stops being somewhere where we can all talk about things, it'll die.

    Secondly, real pity about this. I'd love a Nino as a toy, simply as WindowsCE includes Jot which seems to be better than Graffiti by all accounts (ditto the on-screen keyboards for that matter, due to WinCE's superior screen design) and the Nino in particular including either smARTwriter or Calligrapher, both of which are supposed to make a rather better stab at this handwrting recognition lark by allowing proper writing (albeit printed only). Yes, it's bigger, heavier and takes more power but if it still fits in a pocket without weighing it down and can be used all day without a charge, who cares? Plus I can get rechargeable with disposable backup, which isn't possible on Palms...

    I know CE is supposed to be pretty nasty but if I was seriously looking for something like this, it's be a Nino. Psion 5/Revo's nice, but a keyboard means that I either have to put it down or try and balance it on one hand while typing with the other (I've seen it, and it's worth a laugh!) to use the thing on the move. So, it's got to be an upright and the Nino appears to have by far the easiest data input, letting me take notes properly on it.

    Just hope I can find one going cheap as they sell them off :)

  • I think I'm going to cry. I've actually found a valid reason to purchase a WinCE device someday. If not ONLY for the sheer delight in wiping WinCE, as an added bonus, I'd get to replace it with Linux! Boy, would that baffle the MS WinCE propaganda team that visits my campus a couple times a year.
  • This is just like when I play with the earlier version of win95, when you change your font to 36pt or so, and click "OK", you are screwed, because it's impossible to change it back. The newer and bigger "ok" button is out of the screen area, and you can't touch it!

    Just wait a moment to think about the surreal situation.

  • You might not be able to click the OK button offscreen, but you can use the cursors or ESC. I've "driven blindly" when repairing many hosed NT machines.. sigh..
  • by philsky ( 85320 )
    I love my nino, not because it's a good PIM, but rather because it has so much software for it.... there are so many technical apps, games, network tools, the like. It was basically a PC in your hand.
  • by Outlyer ( 1767 ) on Thursday October 07, 1999 @01:27PM (#1630586) Homepage
    The reason WinCE is failing, and will fail is simple. Unlike Palm, which got a clue a long time ago, people don't want a replacement for their desktop machine. It's ridiculous to try. On the other hand, my Pilot stores the important stuff I need between visits to my PC. The Pilot is small, light and does what it needs fast. WinCE, on the other hand seems to run on grossly oversized handhelds (the Nino is just massive) and the Windows interface just doesn't work well in a small setup, not to mention the complete lack of applications, which is weird since for some stuff it's just a question of selecting a build target in Visual Studio.... but I digress...

    The Palm is open, it's efficient, and it works. It's PDA. WinCE is just a tiny, crappy computer.
  • Not to mention you can run a fairly advanced HTTP Server on that Newton Messagepad!
  • by William Tanksley ( 1752 ) on Thursday October 07, 1999 @01:29PM (#1630588)
    It's notable that although all of the Palms since the Palm III have been flash upgradable, not a single flash upgrade has ever been released.

    The 3.3 OS is supposed to be a flash upgrade, but it seems that it will only work on IIIx'es and later. Its main advantage appears to be faster hotsyncing, something which the Visor already provides (thanks to the USB).

    So although lack of flash upgradability IS a negative, I don't see it as mattering that much -- in the light of past experience.

  • Actually, coward, the Handspring site was experiencing problems earlier today, well before the /. post. I went there this morning after reading a nice review of the Visor over at MacCentral. Now it is working. hmm... Personally, I'm going to get a Nokia 7190 with switchblade keypad, WAP, and microbrowser. [maccentral.com]
  • Exactly. You bought the Nino for a different reason than most people buy their Pilot/CE Palmtop/other PIM. I would venture a guess that most people who would buy a PIM/PalmPC also have enough access to a PC - at work, home, laptop, etc., that they don't really need a PC in their hand. It's cool, but that is not enough to get most people to spend $300-$500 on it. And in the end, the need/want that drove them to consider the purchase (to replace their day-planner with an electronic one) still has not been satisfied with the PalmPC.
  • Does anyone know how they could make this beast of a website faster? It took like 20 minutes to finally get to the info I wanted because it looks like every page they serve is being run through cgi or something. (Not that I'm an expert on this). Hopefully they will tweak it out soon (or the slashdotters will back off) and I will be able to order one of those bad ass green ones! (My favorite color! Woo hoo!)
  • This happened shortly after 3com announced the spinoff of Palm Computing and that they would be licensing the Palm OS to third parties.

    Hmmmm, no. Handspring was founded about a year ago, long before Palm Computing was announced to be spun off. Indeed, rumor has it that Hawkins and Dubinsky left because (at that time) 3COM wouldn't spin off Palm.

    And the Palm OS has been licensed to 3rd parties for quite some time as well. IBM makes the Workpad, a Palm OS device, and Qualcomm has a license to use it in a phone, but I don't think they've released anything yet.

  • Oops, didn't actually know that change has been made.

    Can we therefore have a change in moderation policy? Dismissing comments as near-irrelevant just because the poster chose to hide their identity is a trifle totalitarian...

  • But also sad - the only reason they're appearing is that there's very often an irrational hate for Billy G and his company's works, and an equally irrational love for their competitors - and just to clarify, I'm a long-term Amiga lover so no real fan of them.

    I don't like them either, nor do I think Windows CE is perfect - it's amused me from the start that they didn't seem to notice that the conventional abbreviation used for Windows products means they released something by the name of wince. Nonetheless, by all accounts it's rather better than some of us will give it credit for, and continually flaming it only serves to harm the community by making us appear vastly less intelligent or neutral. Which, as I've said above, is exactly what we want to do to kill the golden goose that is the Slashdot community.

    Moderators, please grow up and start tolerating these opinions. Yes, it was a little crudley put and mildly offensive, but no way worth -1 and Flamebait / Troll.

  • Let's not forget the geniuses at PDADash, who last year published an article called "Color is Killer", predicting the PalmOS's ultimate demise right about now. The author's reasons? The PalmPilot cannot play mp3's, emulate a gameboy, nor play Phantom Menace trailers. Pssst...IT'S MARKETED AS A TOOL!!!

    Search the archives of embarassment at:

  • The thought "MS IIS 4.0 thinks the administrator probably just forgot to turn on NTLM challenge/response authentication for that page, and decides to do so itself" comes to mind... I'm not certain they use that, but I've run into IIS doing shit like that before.

    MS IIS seems written for a closed NT network. No "World Wide" there, unless you fight it using pitchfork()s.

  • Yes, the battery is the achilles heel of WinCE devices. I didn't really do any serious measurements on the E100, but with its very bright active matrix screen, it goes through its LI ion battery pack pretty fast. I used it up in two weeks of occaisional use,and if you were on it constantly, I suspect you'd only have a couple of days.

    On the OTHER hand, the E100 _charges_ when its in its cradle. Thus, if you return it to its cradle for a few hours every week or so, you'd never run out of batteries. So, unless you are a field scientist out in the bush, you'll probably _never_ give battery life any thought at all.

    Putting the Pilot in its cradle, however, seems to cause it to eat batteries; not very fast, but significantly faster than if it is disconnected. If the pilot had a battery pack and charging system like the E100, you would never, ever have to think about batteries, even if you were to disconnect for a month or more. This is the way things should be. Changing the batteries on a PDA should be like changing them on a watch -- something you do every couple of years.
  • This morning I tried from multiple locations and it is refusing connections this morning
  • >More RAM? yeah, you need it because
    >Win CE is such a hog. Color? who cares?
    >It's not a laptop! Win32? why does that
    >matter? So I can run MS office in my palmtop?

    Well, of course you don't need color for your address book or to do list, but color is essential many kinds of applications. For example, it is _very_ helpful in mapping applications, because you can increase the information density of the display (very important on a PDA). I can also imagine a real estate agent or other salesman putting a hundred or so images of his current inventory on a compact flash card. Color isn't always just eye candy. (I wonder what the Apple's hideous Quicktime Player would look like running on a Cass E100 -- Simulated chrome inside real chrome, virtual thumbwheels next to real ones... **shudder**)

    Win32 makes it easier for developers with experience in Win 9X/NT to develop native applications for WinCE. Having office on WinCE means you can read document attachments to e-mails. Sure, all right thinking people develop in GCC on a free OS, and refuse to read attachments that aren't plain ascii or XML, but it still makes life easier for the great unwashed.

    The combination of these means you have to sacrifice some (currently fairly cheap) RAM to the OS, but it would be a mistake to call this "bloat" -- you get something in return. Generally, response feels quite snappy on WinCE, as opposed to the NT or Win9x experience of being mired in some kind of transparent goo. WinCE generlly is probably the best OS in Microsoft's current lineup.

    >People haven't bought into Win CE
    >because it's a plain dumb idea born
    >of Microsoft's need to expand into
    >new markets. Palm OS outsells all
    >Win CE computers combined by a large
    >margin for a reason. It does exactly
    >what it needs to do for a palm computer.

    PalmOS succeeded where Newton failed because of its form factor was appropriate to the application space they were selling in, whereas the Newton's was not. However, the Newton would have been terrific in vertical market spaces like specialized data entry terminals and controllers (we were developing for the Newton -- burned by Apple AGAIN, curse it!). Flogging the Newton as a PDA seemed almost obstinately stupid, because clearly the device was too big, couldn' really get too much smaller. If anything they should have gone with a flat slate; imagine the size of a VAIO but half the thickness or weight.

    The PalmOS interface works on a smaller screen than WinCE, and therefore Palm based devices will always be more sleek than WinCE device. However, until PalmOS acquires some of the features that WinCE has, you won't be able to do many applications.

    >In short,
    >it doesn't try to be a little laptop
    >computer. Win CE fails as a palmtop
    >and as a laptop.

    Having used Win CE but settled on PalmOS, I can't call WinCE a failure as a palmtop; more accurately, I'd say its less convenient as a PDA, more flexible as a palmtop.

    >And since when did MS not marketing Win 98?

    I thought that they were unusually muted, though; perhaps they were affraid of being embarassed about charging money for something that amounts to a service pack.

  • While reading over some of the online coverage about Handspring at Internet World '99, one of the interviewers asked about upgrading Visors to newer OS versions. The Handspring rep told him that they're planning an upgrade straight to PalmOS 4.0, instead of 3.3 as Palm is doing. Don't recall any mention of how they're going to do it though...

  • Most likely on your side.

    The one time I had that error, it turned out to be a corrupted Windows 95 license.

    Microsoft tech support said to reinstall with Windows 98. I went to the store and bought Win98-Full version and installed. It worked like a charm!

  • by Accipiter ( 8228 ) on Thursday October 07, 1999 @10:50AM (#1630608)
    What Phillips doesn't realize, is that there is an active port of LinuxCE to the Nino platform. They may want to discontinue the product, but I sure hope they continue to support it, and perhaps support the LinuxCE project. Many people on the development team have expressed interest in the Nino port.

    This only shows there is a definite user base that isn't being tapped here. If Phillips is smart, they would back the project, and let Nino users know they have an alternative to CE.

    LinuxCE can be found at http://www.linuxce.org [linuxce.org]

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • "The company's ambivalence about its Windows CE handheld business became even more apparent when Philips declined to offer a so-called Jupiter device, which was Microsoft's vision of a sub-notebook based on the Windows CE operating system." So the real question is whether they are speaking out against a sub-par operating system (WinCE) or they are now realizing that the market is already saturated with devices that really don't help the day-to-day business person. Sure it's nice to have a $400 gadget that can access E-mail, schedules, faxes and phone numbers. But jeez, are they really worth it? For most people that is? Shaken
  • Actually, Handspring has been taking orders for a couple weeks. I was visiting their site this morning and they now have accessories for sale on their site: Lots of different cases (including custom ones), extra cradles, a stylus 5-pack, not to mention t-shirts, gym bags, hats, and all sorts of other merchandise.

    Do you get the feeling they're looking for a following very quickly? I ordered a Visor a while ago, and I'll probably buy a case....those prices are pretty good when you compare them to the leather cases for dayrunner datebooks.

    The only criticism I've heard on the Visor so far is that the snap-on cover is cheap and hard to remove. Even with a case, it's still cheaper than a Palm V. I'm very curious to see what their sales numbers turn out to be for all this stuff.
  • "For its part, Microsoft disputed the notion that problems with the operating system contributed to Nino's demise. Brian Shafer, a Windows CE product manager, said: "Some of the manufacturers may or may not be as successful as others, given their brand or channel strategy. There's a whole host of other factors which come into play."

    People need an unstable palmtop like they need an unstable desktop. Enough said.

  • Slow, nothing. I've been getting refused connections.
  • Netcraft [netcraft.com] says: www.handspring.com is running Microsoft-IIS/4.0 on NT4 or Windows 98

    slashdotted ... that's gotta smart...
  • Sorry to burst your bubble, but as the guy above you said: they've been accepting orders for quite some time now. I ordered mine the day /. had a link to the CNN article [cnn.com]. Seems most people missed the fact that they put thier phone number on the site, and said you could reserve yours. I called to reserve mine, and found out that I could just order it right then, and so I did. :)

    If Bill Gates had a nickel for every time Windows crashed...
  • Their site seems to be down right now. And this was before this story appeared, so I think something else is going on other than the Slashdot Effect. Anybody know what's going on?

    P.S. I submitted order number 7 after they opened their site yesterday. Nyah, nyah, nyah. :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft's lack of marketing the Windows CE operating system features, their lack willingness to give away the Windows CE dev kit for free, their lack of publicity is killing Windows CE. For some reason they think "if we build it better than the Palm then they will come." But nobody knows that it is better (more ram, faster, color, Win32 compat, etc.), plus it has the Microsoft logo on it, which scares a lot of people away.

    Sure the Army, Navy, Airforce, FBI, CIA, NSA and many police departments use Windows CE, but what about us common folk?

    It's just like Windows 98 - if you don't tell people what's up with it, they aren't going to want to buy.

  • The Philips Velo, American model, is still IMO the best palmtop PC around, and it was released in 1997. Why? It has a softmodem - 4 hours of e-mail/IE 2.0 level net surfing at 19.2k. I was travelling around the US for a month and it was ideal for keeping in touch with people. AFAIK no other palmtop has this feature, even now (but I haven't been paying too much attention...)

    Stupidly, they made the European version with a mobile phone interface - slower and far more expensive to set up and use. I count myself very lucky I have an American model. But with marketing decisions like that, no wonder it got discontinued as quickly as the article says.

    On the downside, of course, it's my fifth one, due to them never getting the hinges designed right - but you can't fault their nice returns department :-)

  • Was the Nino a PC or an Organizer? It was designed and marketed to be both, and there are better examples of both of these things. Compare to the Pilot, which has no pretense of doing everything that a PC does, and has sold more than all its CE Palmtop competitors. It's the Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none principle.

    Do I really need a built-in modem? A voice recorder? 8MB of memory? Not for my organizer, I don't. In fact, I would probably be less productive if I was always fiddling with those things (I didn't say they weren't fun to fool with).

    Since I bought my Pilot in 1997, I know about 8 people who bought one partially or completely based on the fact that they saw the one I had. I have not seen the same thing with the CE Palmtops. Those machines seem overwhelming the the average person. Any idiot can use a Pilot, just like any idiot can use a phone.

  • It's been slow all day, and you're right, even before the /. effect.

    When they debuted it a couple weeks ago, handspring.com redirected you to an ip address. Now the site is back to using its domain name. Wonder if the switchover has anything to do with the slowness.
  • And it's just about at my price - $149 is not that bad (okay, I'm cheap!) I'm seriously querying my credit card to see if it will cooperate on this one.
  • by sparks ( 7204 ) <acrawfordNO@SPAMlaetabilis.com> on Thursday October 07, 1999 @11:16AM (#1630621) Homepage
    Windows CE
    Take a bloated, mutated, and counter-intuitive desktop operating system. Remove most of its functionality. Squeeze it into a smaller display than it was ever intended for. It's fun for a while, but ultimately unrewarding.

    PalmOS Desgined from the ground up to work in a small display. You can pull it out of your pocket and get to the data in an isntant. No fuss, no mess. You wouldn't want to enter serious amounts of text in it, but it's a very practical solution for the needs of the average business person. It's massively popular.

    Epoc32 A clean and elegently designed system from a company who've been building PDAs longer than anyone. Designed from day one for mobile use - but aimed at people who really need a keyboard, either because they need to process documents on the run, or because they are geeks and like being able to telnet into their linux boxes from half way up a mountain - which is when the excellent cellphone integration comes in handy. Also let's companies easily develop custom apps in OPL for, say, insurance salesmen to use on the move. Massively popular in it's niche market.

    There's a pattern here, I think:

    Designed to a PDA environment - people love it.

    Designed from a desktop environment - complete flop.

  • Handspring is a company which was founded by a bunch of the original PalmPilot engineers. This happened shortly after 3com announced the spinoff of Palm Computing and that they would be licensing the Palm OS to third parties.

    It would definitely be a Good Thing if the Palm OS became ubiquitous as the environment for PDA's, completely displacing Windoze CE in this arena. It's nice to see a sector not dominated by BigBullySoft.
  • I have to agree that the Velo 1 is a very cool little computer. I too have had my hinge problems (as well as anyone else) and I'm on Velo #3 (works perfectly so far).. I haven't really used it much b/c it's a pain to carry around and my classes are all engineering based so i do very little writing/note taking in class that can be done on a hpc. It was great in High School though. I just read about the linuxce project, and I'm not sure if there's a version for the Velo yet (can't get to the site) but I think it may be reason for me to wipe of the dust and turn that puppy on again!
  • I'm one of those people who picked up one of those Compaq PC Companion (WinCE 1.0) units a while back, when they were being discounted for $99 or so. And I like it a lot. At the time, my feeling was that Windows CE was a better choice than the "proprietary" Palm Pilot operating system... but my feelings have changed since then. While I like the idea of a unified interface that my palm & desktop device share, I now see no problem with a different user interface/OS for a palm unit, as long as it's still able to "plug into" my desktop unit, under whatever OS's I happen to be using (I dual boot between Win9x and BeOS 4.5).

    Part of my rationale for getting "toys" like this is so I can learn more about them, although it's always a bonus if I can find a productive use for them. This thread has got me thinking about what sort of PalmPilot related resources there might be, so I guess I have some exploring to do.
  • I need a cheap, portable, affordable, worthwhile laptop to move all of my e-mail over to.

    Right now I've got a Windows PC running Eudora, but I want to move it to a laptop, maybe running Linux and KMail (which does the job in terms of filtering - the only reason I still use Eudora).

    If I can get a SparcBook inexpensively, I'll do it - I don't need to stick with Intel. The main thing is price.

    So where'd you get it?!!! :)
  • I checked the Handspring site and in the shipping details it only mentions the US of A. Seems we won't have it in Europe before next year, as usual. Grrrr!

    Still,I was thinking about buying one, but 2 technical details made me change my mind:

    It comes with a USB connection, gotta pay $20 more for serial. What if I dont't want USB, or my 'puter doesn't have USB? Serial does the job perfectly, and for the amount of data a normal user will have to up/download the speed difference shouldn't be a big problem. I just want the choice in there, not being forced to basically buy something I don't need.

    You can't upgrade the OS since there's no Flash memory. Sounds like one of the reasons the Visor is a lot cheaper than 3Com's Palm III series (althought the IIIe is locked too, but it's only for US market, so I don't care).

    I'd rather pay a bit more for a Palm IIIx or even a V (looks too good), and be sure I can upgrade the OS whenever there's an upgrade, feature that garantees my gadget won't be totally obsolete after 1 or 2 years. Heck, with the OS in a Flash ROM it's even possible to change the OS to something else than PalmOS (which is excellent, btw). LinCE anybody?

    For now, I think I'll just enjoy the new prices for the Palm series...

  • OS3.3 does work on the PalmIII. The other significant improvements besides faster hotsyncing are improved infrared support (I think this has been possible with 3rd-party software), and the addition of the Euro symbol to all the standard fonts. Aside from the Euro symbol, which may or may not matter for you, there's not a very compelling reason for wanting 3.3 on a Visor.

    The main use for the flash so far is a 3rd-party app called FlashPro, which lets you store applications in the unused ~800k of flash.
  • I have been looking long and hard at the Philips Pronto remote [philips.com], which is pretty much just a remote control made out of a Nino. I hope they don't cancel it too!

    This does bring me to a kind of off topic question though that I think should be asked - who will be the next to leave the CE camp? How indicative is this of what CE is doing in the marketplace? When will MS be posting a PalmOS FUD document like they did for Linux? My guess on the last question is Real Soon Now.

    This should be fun to watch for!

    941415926518293950285123123568785948184839358193 948913958495
    80124569890476636201512012315668018651125564087489 7980465063
  • I just tried to hit their site and got a rather interesting page up telling me my license was invalid and showing a picture of a "closed" sign with an unplugged ethernet cable. I wonder what license that is...
  • by |DaBuzz| ( 33869 ) on Thursday October 07, 1999 @02:05PM (#1630634)
    I personally shoulder much of the blame for this on Windows CE. I've had a Casio A-20 for over a year now and I don't ever use it for the simple fact that it's not worth it. I ALWAYS use my Palm Pilot Professional because it's fast, functional, and works.

    There is NO REASON a handheld PC should give you an hourglass when "opening" your contacts app, NO REASON. Then add the same problems that Win 9x/NT has like constant reboots and lockups/crashes and that seals Windows CE's fate in my opinion.

    This is the reason I have not purchased a new CE unit and most likely will not.
  • I just have a hard time taking an OS that calls itself WinCE seriously.

    I mean, what was Marketing THINKING?

    Uh, wait...
  • a great place for cheap laptops that i know of is outletzoo.com [outletzoo.com] (under pczoo --> notebooks) the only thing is they are mostly 'refurbished' back into 'same as new' condition. i recently ordered a PII 366 64M w/DVD MicronTrek2, etc. and dual booted it w/ RH 6.0. It runs perfectly fine so far, except the perplexing PPP configuration problems that forces me to keep using the EVILBILL partition to go online so far... :>?
    prices are $300 and up^
    bobbaq@ya'wh0? [mailto]
  • [Score 0:Cynical]

    It's (almost) amusing to see this type of post appearing nearly as often as a 'first post'er or a microsoft flame.


  • I got a user name and password verification box. To go to their site???? A password??
  • I sure hope you knew I was kidding...

    I was trying to sound like MS Tech Support ; )

    The error is most likely on their end.
  • What time are you syncing? I think the NYT reupdates at 5AM EDT.
  • Hi guys! This is my first post on /. Im really glad I found this awesome site. Well, what I wanted to ask is if theres absolutely no way you can update the Palm OS in the Visor? However, it might not be that bad, since the whole thing will look quite obsolete in one or two years, anyway. When these things get color screens by then, how long do you think will battery life be?
  • Your post is a random list of non sequiturs! You seem to be confusing a palm computer with a sub-laptop computer.

    More RAM? yeah, you need it because Win CE is such a hog. Color? who cares? It's not a laptop! Win32? why does that matter? So I can run MS office in my palmtop?

    People haven't bought into Win CE because it's a plain dumb idea born of Microsoft's need to expand into new markets. Palm OS outsells all Win CE computers combined by a large margin for a reason. It does exactly what it needs to do for a palm computer. It's simple, logical, and elegant. It's small, lightweight, runs for months on a set of batteries. In short, it doesn't try to be a little laptop computer. Win CE fails as a palmtop and as a laptop.

    And since when did MS not marketing Win 98?
  • Nothing wrong with CE? How about the fact that it was scaled down from a desktop OS that was bloated to begin with? How about the fact that it is as buggy as the OS from which it was created? How about the fact that there are at least 3 other palm OSes out there that are vastly superior to it? I see it as a case where Microsoft's ego is so big that it feels it HAS to compete in every market, "jack of all trades, master of none."

    And before you reply thinking that I am some Linux geek who trashes MS every chance I get, think again, I'm an MS developer who is very aware of the limitations under which I am forced to work. I'm consistantly faced with mediocre products and numerous work arounds because MS is spread too thin to do one thing really WELL.

    What I object to is that MS consistantly releases sub-standard products just because they HAVE to grab market share in every market. This "Me-too!" attitude is spreading them too thin to be able to build reliable software. And it shows.

  • I think people didn't buy it because even Microsoft didn't seem to care. I remember reading some tepid-at-best pronouncements which seemed to be designed to convince you to skip 98 and go straight to Windows2000.

    The reviews were terrible, too.


  • What bugs me about all this blessed praise for Handspring's Razor is how off-base the product (and its overpriced Big Daddy) is. While it's less overpriced, it's still incredibly cumbersome to use, and more importantly, it doesn't give universal wireless email access (unless your universe is New York).

    Matter of fact, I recently spent a day messing with RIM's new Blackberry [blackberry.net] device and ended up feeling downright disgusted with Palm/Spring. Specifically, I loved that Blackberry a) had keyboard entry; b) a perfect form factor; and c) and ubiquitous, wireless email.

    It was insanely addictive, like the early days of cell phones when it was fun to call someone from the car (or the roller blades) Just Because You Could, it is totally cool to send emails from the neighbor's couch, Just Because You Can.

    At the same time, as Mark Anderson points out in a recent column, any device that has united Michael Dell, Steve Ballmer and Paul Allen has got big buzz. After all, Allen just paid $1.65B for RCN which is getting ready to roll out Blackberry service.

  • no matter how nice the OS was, still:

    WAY too big.
    WAY too expensive.

    Sorry, try again Apple. (please!)

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • Should also recv. pages.
    The cell-phone TCP should not be simply a "cellular modem" but some type of wireless networking that uses the cellular networks, possibly also able to tie into AirPort networks.

    I could take or leave color, but the display definately needs to be higher definition, and able to display changes quickly (the Palm III display isn't fast enough for video games really, but I've had many satisfying hours of spades).
    Doesn't use batteries, uses fuel-cells which can be recharged instantly by ethanol.

    Speech to text isn't 100% necc. but it would be nice to have enough memory, and a microphone, to allow quick audio notes to be taken for later transcription, perhaps a slow background process that slowly converts speech to text, turning an 8 meg audio file into a 1k text file. Or maybe that conversion can be uploaded to a desktop. . .

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • You can hide/show as much privacy with a login name as without one, it's a life style. And there's nothing wrong with score 0. Everybody can read them by default. Set your preference to -1 and stop whining.
  • Er, actually...

    My preference is set to -1, but I suspect there are others whose preference is set to 1. All I was observing was that rating posts from logged in users higer than anonymous users _automatically_ is a dangerous precedent and really ought to be reversed.
  • Yes, Way too expensive and big, but I'm still using my original Message Pad. (before they called it the MP100) I mostly use it as a address book, but I also but driving directions into it for when I'm traveling. I'm starting to look seriously at a Palm OS device though. There has been talk of Apple working with Palm... Has any info on this come out yet?
  • I've ordered two visor deluxes by phone from Australia. I was told I have to provide a shipping address inside the U.S. so I left that field free for the time being. Does anyone know if there are any companies that provide a U.S. shipping address and will then forward the goods to countries overseas? Or is there some other solution? Thanks in advance.
  • No info yet. Just rumors. But when this thing DOES come out, if it's got AirPort, I'm ditching my Palm III, and buying one. And a G4 with an AirPort adapter.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • AFAIK no other palmtop has this feature, even now (but I haven't been paying too much attention...)

    I've had a Sharp Zaurus for nearly 5 years now. It's the only palmtop I know of with a decent sized (not lap-top sized, but it will do) keyboard, and a PCMCIA slot. I have the cheezy 2400bps modem that plugs into the side, but you can plug any PCMCIA modem you want into the thing.
    The built-in vt100 emulation isn't bad - I frequently run elm and mutt and trn over it.
  • Nyah, nyah, I ordered mine September 14th. Should be getting it in the next week or two.

    WinCE is toast.

  • And has it shipped/have you received it yet?

  • Hi! Let me take this opportunity to sermonize about the features of my Dream PDA.

    My Dream PDA is:

    • The size of a Palm V or smaller.
    • A cell phone (and of course can do TCP over said connection). Should be able to send and receive faxes over same.
    • Does speech-to-text so that I don't have to have a stylus at all.
    • Has color.
    • Has batteries that last for, oh, about a month.

    Note that I haven't put a price on this puppy. To me, price is less important than features. If I could find a unit that would do all of the above, and do it well I'd probably be willing to pay in excess of $1,000 for it.

    So, which venture capitalist is going to give me a few million to develop this thing?

  • I'm happy with my SPARCBook3. Cost me $230 shipping included, a bloody sight less than most PDAs.

    Sure it's a bit heavy (gotta love that magnesium case). But it runs real OSs (Solaris 2.5/6/7, NetBSD, Linux). It's got great features (builtin sound, ethernet, 2 modems, ISDN ). And it meets my criterion: since it runs a perfectly stable OS (Sol 2.5.1), I can just suspend it and resume it in about 30 seconds each. So I can arrive somewhere and be hacking without waiting for boot. Granted the battery life isn't amazing, just enough for a 90 minute lecture, though newer laptops are much better for that.

    It can dhcp in any lecture hall with netbars, and if I wasn't too cheap to spring for wireless it could do that too i think (might need a newer Solaris version).

    I spend my class and between class time this morning half listning to lectures, half hacking madly at Verilog. It was a great productivity boost considering my ECE lab tonight. I also use it to take notes that are actually readable for once -- definitely worth the flexibility tradoff verses pen & paper.

    Spend an equivalent amount of money on a PDA that's smaller but can only take a few terse notes and keep my appointments? Forget it.
  • Phone number???? What kind of luddites are in their marketing/sales departments?

    COME ON PEOPLE! (to HandSpring) If I enter a store, they don't tell me to go home and call their 800 number, they do what they can to take my money right there. Web business should be no different. Can you tell I want one really bad? I want to see it with my eyes before I pick out the color though, the web graphics just don't do it for me.

  • This may be an extremely naive question, but just
    how much Linux support is there out there for
    synching with the PalmOS? What sort of
    PIM programs on the computer is there to use in
    conjunction with the Visor/PalmPilot? Is the
    USB connection support? Infrared? My motherboard
    has IrDA support.. but there's no receiver on the
    front of my computer.. does the computer not
    receive IrDA like other infrareds?
    As I said, very naive questions, but certainly
    applicable to the subject matter -- I imagine
    that many people have such questions, with the
    Palmtops being previously out of most peoples'
    sensible price range...
  • There is a springboard module for the Visor that will supposedly do this type of stuff. Details are sketchy, as usual with unreleased products, but from what I've heard it will be a normal pager but when you plug it into the Visor it will do all sorts of logs and 2way paging stuff. Again, this is all preliminary but if the rumors pan out, it will be a killer little deal.
  • The only purpose for Wince, was to put Go computing out of business. Penpoint was good enough to actually threaten MicroSquish.

    There was a time, a few years back, when many people actually believed that pen-based UI could supplant windowing GUIs. Of course, now that pen-based UI sucks, this threat is very remote.

    In other words, now that Go is dead, Wince is redundant. Nobody's going to replace their wintel boat anchor with a palm pilot.

  • I ordered my visor this morning. The site seemed really slow, but I was able to confirm that the order had been placed. I can't wait for it to arrive (plus it comes in "ice" --- much cooler than the palm's grayish color)

    Micro$oft(R) Windoze NT(TM)
    (C) Copyright 1985-1996 Micro$oft Corp.

  • by / ( 33804 )
    It was posted by an anonymous coward. Thus it starts at score=0.
  • faster isn't always better. palm wins based on usability. it's simple, yet expandable. that's just good design - a design with the end user in mind, not the settopbox development market.
  • No PDA has 32meg build-in memory

    Actually, the Casio E-105 has 32MB of RAM. As far as video, you seem to be stuck on the idea that the only use for video is feature length movies. I would like to carry around little video clips of my kids, etc. And when I get my Casio (soon hopefully) I will!

  • (um, though I took the time to preview my post and it had correct HTML formatting, the final posted version did not, so a 2nd try...)

    Eh, the Handspring site was experiencing problems earlier today, well before the slashdot post.

    I went there this morning after reading a glowing review of the Visor over at MacCentral [maccentral.com].

    Now it is working.


    For my PDA needs I'm going to get a Nokia 7100 with switchblade keypad, WAP, 1000 number memory, & microbrowser.
  • To be honest, I question how useful being able to upgrade the op system is. Just now, 3Com is releasing the first operating system upgrade, which isn't upgrading anything major.

    I think that the "You can upgrade the operating system" line from 3Com is to comfort the purchaser who can't stomach a computer that isn't upgradable. I don't think it is a very useful feature right now, and I question if it will be in the future.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 07, 1999 @12:02PM (#1630673)
    important note: the handspring doesnot put the palmos in flash memory, like all other palms. the handspring uses palmos hardcoded into rom. result? you cannot upgrade to a newere palmos. a pretty big downside, imo.

    however, that won't stop me from getting one! :) these things just look cool. plus, accessorizing is in. hehe. anyways, for how cheap they, how compatible they are, how cool they look, they can't be beat. but, you'll be stuck with the os that it comes with unless you're a decent hardware hacker.
  • NewtonOS: generally overlooked by everyone except Newton owners. Designed for handheld and portable devices while retaining a high degree of functionality. Handwriting recognition actually works as expected on later revisions without having to resort to gestural alphabets. Generally considered very advanced and capable, even when compared with other more popular palmtop/handlheld/portable operating systems and considered the "Grandfather" of most of those popular operating systems who owe much of their basic design to NewtonOS. Has a small but dedicated core of fans and followers who want to beat Steve Jobs with a whiffle bat until he bleeds from his ears for discontinuing the project that originally birthed it.


  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday October 07, 1999 @12:13PM (#1630677) Homepage Journal
    Well, exatly how bad IS WinCE? Is it just anti-MS bias? If it is, we have enough to complain about without making up things.

    I've had to compare the Cass E100 to the Palm series for a project at work, and I must say, despite my being prepared to hate the very idea of WinCE, I really liked the E100. I haven't had any stability problems, but this tends to vary from user to user; any unsatisfied WinCE users?

    As far as the UI was concerned, I also thought it was a bad idea to "shoehorn" a desktop GUI onto a PDA, but in fact the GUI isn't really the same as Windows 9X/NT; it just has some very superficial similarities. All in all I'd rate it very good, although I chose to focus on PalmOS.

    In the area of desktop synchronization, I found the ActiveSynch technology to be rather buggy on NT, but OK on Win98. I understand there's an NT fix avaiable. It's nice being able to browse your PDA, but in the end its so slow that I think the HotSynch approach is actually more practical. Synching through USB on the HandSprings is definitely going to rock, I just hope they don't dispense with the good old serial port (so I can hook up a differential GPS).

    The main issue I see with WinCE is that the OS demands a certain amount of memory and processing power, and the UI really won't fit onto a pilot sized screen, so any practical WinCE palmtop is going to be a little too bulky for our particular application. Also the E100's screen couldn't be read in direct sunlight, so that clinched it for us. Price wasn't an issue, the E100 prices were, I thought, very reasonable for the things you get (fast processor, 32MB RAM, active matrix screen). If you had an application that needed these things, I don't think WinCE would be a bad choice.
  • Care to share where you got your SPARCBook3 for $230, shipping included, and maybe some hardware specs? For that price, it might be worth taking a screwdriver/hacksaw/hammer to it and see if I couldn't hack up some semblance of a wearable machine that could run A Real OS.


Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson