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Report from the Floor

Last Updated Sat Oct 9, 1999 - 2:54 PM EDT - By Douglas Morse

The problem with Springboards

And that is how one should approach the Springboard module. Any useful Springboard module is a bonus, a gift. The Visors primary function is that of an organizer. It is not an MP3 player, a pager, a heart-rate monitor,Gameboy, nor Wireless Internet connection. If you happen to find a Springboard module or two that give you some added functionality, that is great. For software, I only really use two add-ons(Hourz Pro and Multi-Mail) and I imagine my Springboard use will be similar. I hope to find one or two useful.

Here are the problems with the Springboard Prototypes that I saw. Dedicated devices do it better and cheaper. By the time a MP3 player come out for the Visor, the market will be flooded with very cheap MP3 players from Sony, RCA and other consumer electronic giants. Hate to say it, but how can a specialized form factor compete with this in terms of features, price, and design.

The pager Springboard must be in the Visor to work properly. And this points to another weakness. Part of the selling of Springboard is that it is elegant, clutter free way to add interesting devices to your geek pocket arsenal. But if youve got a pocket full of Springboards, its as cluttered as carrying dedicated pagers, MP3 players and mumble-phones. And its going to be more expensive. Also, with their propensity for cracked screens and droppability I think that using a Visor for all of these other tasks is not worth the risk. Im just not sure the thing is physically cut out to be a heartrate monitor.

Also, the Tiger Woods game is available now for download. Why bother with a cartridge? Perhaps later on Nintendo will release a 32 meg Zelda for Visor and a cartridge will be necessary. Again, the color Game Boy does it better. I feel the same about the backup module. It is cool as hell, but not necessary. You can do that through third party software.

I am being very hard on Springboard, I know. However, my guess is that some awesome Springboards are in our future. And one or two will be just perfect. Yet the resources required to create hardware are much different than those required for software. So we cannot expect quite the software equivalent of variety and depth and that have made the Palm such a success.

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