Snap photos with your Handspring
by Cameron Crouch
(IDG) -- That expandable Springboard slot on your Handspring Visor gets even handier with two modules introduced on Monday. Now you can add image capture and radio listening to the list of Handspring's functions.
At the Demo 2000 show on Monday, Handspring unveiled a digital camera add-on and a radio module for its handheld computers. Meanwhile, Palm Computing and Kodak previewed the PalmPix, a snap-on camera for Palm devices (see "Taking pictures with your Palm" link below).
Available this spring for $149 through Handspring's Web store, the Eyemodule from Ideo is all about small. According to Handspring, when snapped into the Springboard slot, the camera adds a mere 15 mm to the length and no change to the width of the Visor.
But how does it compare with the PalmPix?
Convenience versus quality
The smaller Eyemodule offers a paltry resolution of 320 x 240, compared to the PalmPix's 640 x 480, for the same price.
"The PalmPix is more of a traditional camera," says Dennis Boyle, design studio leader at Ideo. "Ours fits more with uses of the handheld computer."
The Eyemodule is a point-and-shoot camera with a fixed-focus lens, auto-exposure, and no zoom, Boyle adds. While the PalmPix has a viewfinder through which you must look to take photos, the Eyemodule uses the Visor's display as the viewfinder, thanks to the Springboard module's fast data-transfer speed.
"You can see in real time what the lens sees as you pan around the room," Boyle says. And you don't have to figure out a new way to hold the device.
Save that photo
You can save photos taken with the Eyemodule as black-and-white or as color images. An 8MB Visor Deluxe with a reasonable amount of stored data can hold over 500 black-and-white small files, 125 large black-and-white images (which you can pan), or about 25 color images.
"A color file is about 180KB," Boyle says. "Since the Visor is gray scale, you'd only save in color if you want to download and print [the image]."
Eyemodule automatically labels captured images with the date and time and can beam them via the infrared port to other Palm OS devices or synchronize them with a PC. Bundled image-editing software lets you edit, e-mail, print, attach notes, or create slide shows with your photos.
Battery drain is a major concern for power-intensive add-ons such as cameras. But Boyle says regular use of the Eyemodule compares to that of any of the game modules available for the Visor.
While the PalmPix carries with it Kodak's brand and a 2x zoom lens, the Eyemodule is really about convenience.
"It isn't going to replace digital cameras," Boyle says. "This is so small -- about as wide as your finger -- that you can always have something with you to capture images."
The Cue radio module for Handspring is expected to be available this spring for less than $100. It lets you listen to your favorite radio station and receive free general news and weather updates on your Handspring Visor.
In addition, live traffic updates will be available in some markets for $60 a year. Additional subscription services, including messaging with e-mail alerts, are expected to be available when the product ships.
A better platform on your palm
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