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Handspring unveils its thinnest handheld

The Visor Edge, which is 0.44 inches thick and weighs 4.8 ounces, is designed to rival the Palm V series of handheld computers.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Handspring is looking to fatten up by slimming down.

Handspring on Monday released its fifth major product since the company's inception 18 months ago. As previously reported, the latest addition is the Visor Edge, which is Handspring's extra-thin handheld designed to compete with Palm's V series. The V's are Palm's best-selling units.

Handspring's announcement is similar to adding a sports car to a line of sedans. The new unit is 0.44 inches thick, 3.1 inches wide and 4.7 inches tall.

Chief Product Officer Jeff Hawkins dubbed the Visor Edge the "thinnest in the industry." However, the Palm Vx comes in at 0.4 inches, according to Palm's Web site.

The 4.8-ounce Edge comes with a 33MHz Motorola DragonBall VZ processor and 8MB of memory. The metal case comes in silver, blue or red and includes a flip-up metal cover. The unit is available on Handspring's Web site for $399. It will head to retail stores in late March.

Visor Edge features a black-and-white display. That's in contrast to Palm's upcoming m505, a Palm Vx successor that will have a color screen.

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Handspring's skinny Visor still expandable
Jeff Hawkins, co-founder, Handspring
Handspring's new handheld excludes the company's Springboard expansion slot for add-on modules. A number of analysts and industry watchers have speculated that Handspring needed to remove the slot in order to create a thinner device. In the slot's place is the Edge Connector, an alternate slot that accepts a Springboard adapter, which acts as the previous expansion slot.

"We're not replacing Springboard (with the new slot), but we will support those (developers) who want to make modules that connect directly to the Visor Edge," Hawkins said at a press conference at the company's headquarters. "We anticipate that Springboard will be around for a very long time."

Chris LeTocq, an analyst with Gartner, said Handspring's next step is address the corporate market with software, which is something Palm has already begun to do.