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April Fools!

Tue Apr 2, 2002 - 8:48 AM EST - By Marcus Adolfsson

For the third year in a row, VisorCentral managed to fool many of its readers into believing in a fake product on April 1st. Previous years we announced the TwoPac, and Newton X module.

This year it was the Springtooth which made its debut to the world. The Springtooth is an interesting product which enables almost Springboard modules to work with any Palm OS based, Bluetooth capable PDA (Clie, Palm, Visor). It is great for users who have amassed a collection of springboard modules, yet want to move on to a handheld that doesn't have a Springboard slot.

So did some VC readers fall for it? You bet.

All I can say is WOW! I thought I was stuck with my Prism/Minstrel S combo. 8 more months of service with $150 early cancellation fee was making me keep this heavy, bulky set up. I was thinking of getting the m515 with the Minstrel m500 but the module itself is roughly 300 bucks! I paid 30 for my Minstrel S! But soon, soon I shall say goodbye to my Prism, and hello to a nice new Sony or Palm with the wireless connection. I can even leave the darn thing next to my window where I get service, and IM or browse from my bed! Thanks VisorCentral for posting this information about Springtooth, you guys made my day!" - Drakion

"Will this Springtooth work with the Omni Remote springboard? If it does, then you could set the springboard down so that it was pointing at your TV and then use the PalmOS device to control it. I'd be interested to hear if it works with this, very hardware oriented, springboard." - Scott

"I am making a foray into a new marketing job that may incorporate springboards on PDAs (for a healthcare application) this month and would LOVE more info on this product when it hits!" - Rick.

"This looks great! I would seriously think about getting it if I had the money :( The price quoted I would think would be reasonable, but I am not able to foot the bill for the springtooth and a bluetooth module. Perhaps some retailer would be selling bundles.... I have a Visor presently and can see it being useful even though I have a springboard slot. My question is can you receive from more then one source at the same time? (two springtooth, one PDA) and Visa versa (one Springtooth several PDAs)?" - Aaron

"Congratulations the undisclosed company, I only wish I could have found them a year and a half ago, since that's about how long I've had notes on a similar product, but never able to catch an ear. Although on the surface, I have a couple more features. To say the least, I think it will strengthen the Springboard module market, which I think was beginning to weaken" - Al

"An interesting concept whose time has come, I think. I'd love to be able to get more information about this device to feature in an upcoming lecture on handhelds that I will be doing in October ... Handhelds are becoming more and more popular in health care, and the Springtooth sounds like something that could make them even more useful. I've been a Visor user for over 2 years now and I've been wondering what to do with my Springboard modules if the need to switch devices ever presents itself. This certainly sounds like a viable alternative." - John

"What would be an incredible boost for this product would be if Handspring incorporated Bluetooth into the Treo. My only reservations about the Treo to date have been the lack of a Springboard. Having this option by use of the Springtooth would cause me to purchase one of each without hesitation. Just a thought, but Handspring might want to get into that game quickly before other Bluetooth enabled phones take away potential market share." - Chris

Others discovered the horrible truth

"Now I feel stupid.....!@$!@$!!!!!!!!!!!! *throws prism against the wall* NOW I HAVE A GOOD REASON TO GET RID OF YOU! guys got me good...real fricken good!" - Drakion

"You guys get me every year, good job! By the time a new year rolls around I forget about last years prank" - kenneth_here

"You should work in R&D, the products you come up with are creative and have a high 'coolness' factor. I'll take two! :-)" - Tom

"Too bad itís a joke. That really would be a good idea for a product. You might also consider reviewing Adobe Photoshop for the Palm OS and the Final Cut Pro Springboard module." - Bill

"You guys really had me until about 2/3 of the way through the article. I was stoked, but then I realized the date." - VTL

"You know for those that have really invested in the modules something like this would be this being an April Fool's spoof really Stinks!" - David

"Huh? So, this is just a April Fools' joke??? When i was reading the article on the train, I thought it was FOR REAL!!!!" - Zip-Zilla

"I smell an April Fool's joke!† Nice try, though!" - Jeff

"I completely bought it. This'll teach me to read the whole article before jumping to conclusions." - bookrats

"HrmÖI was just about to write an e-mail with some actual feedback on this new product, but then I noticed the e-mail address to which I am writing. It reminded me of the April Fool's Day article from last year. And the year before. It's a shame, because it was going to be excellent feedback, too. At this point, I don't even know why I'm continuing to write, because this is probably the 3rd annual VisorCentral April Fool's joke. Heh, heh. Pretty good. It's actually an excellent idea for a product though. You should try for a patent even if you don't develop it. In the event that it is an actual product however, I think it would definitely sell. And if they need any beta testers, I'm their man!!!" - Danny

"Boy you had me going. Even knowing the date, I didn't catch on until I saw the email address on the feedback link. A Springtooth module would actually be a dream come true. It would help me to break the SpringBoard shackles and migrate to a more innovative organizer manufacturer (sure the treo is neat, but I need an organizer, not a smartphone). I am thoroughly disgusted with HandSpring's dead-in-the-water color PDA line. I have been waiting for a year for a Prism2. The only thing that has kept me from upgrading is my LARGE investment in springboard modules. Thanks for the fun!" - HindeR

"I bought for a little bit. Then I thought, wait a second, just as Dave said, there are no Springboard APIs. A- though for Miradu." - volcanopele

Is the Springtooth even technically possible? Not according to Dave Kessler, our resident Springboard expert:

"There is no API for accessing Springboard modules. Springboard modules are memory mapped into the Dragonball's address space and driver software reads and writes to them directly without going through any OS functions. With no OS functions to hook into and no memory management unit in the Dragonball processor, there's no way for a Bluetooth driver to intercept traffic to and from the module. The only way this could be done is if someone created replacements for module driver software for each module you wanted to use. For example, we could theoretically create a new version of the FlashAdapter software that talked to the Bluetooth drivers instead of talking directly to the module. But without support from module vendors to create compatible driver software, the basic concept is infeasible"

However, Dave argues that Handspring could develop a similar solution.

"If Handspring really wanted to be clever (which clearly they don't) what they'd do is take the guts of a VDX and replace the display with a Bluetooth chip and a little custom logic that would package up all the data that goes to the screen and send it out over the air. Likewise, it would recieve data via Bluetooth and convert it to touchscreen and button inputs. Then all you need is a Bluetooth enabled PDA (wouldn't even have to be PalmOS) with "Virtual Visor" client software (a pretty easy app to write) and you would have something not unlike the mythical Springtooth. In fact, this would even provide a way to use PalmOS apps on non-PalmOS devices (the apps actually run on the Springtooth but the output shows up on your PDA). Unfortunately, only Handspring would have the ability to do the hardware side of this (since the guts would actually be a complete Visor - sans display) so that means zero chance of it actually happening. Too bad, 'cause it would be a cool toy."

Thanks everyone that e-mailed us or posted in the discussion boards. We hope there are no hard feelings - after all, it was April 1st.

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