The HandyGPS Springboard module from Nexian transforms your Handspring Visor into a mobile GPS (Global Positioning System) device that can help you locate where you are, where you're going, and where you've been. But don't throw away those paper maps just yet. The HandyGPS Springboard module from Nexian transforms your Handspring Visor into a mobile GPS (Global Positioning System) device that can help you locate where you are, where you're going, and where you've been. But don't throw away those paper maps just yet.
Lock and load
Measuring a compact 2.1 by 2.9 inches and weighing approximately three ounces, the 12-channel HandyGPS module is about the same size as Handspring's VisorPhone module and fits snuggly in the Springboard slot of any Visor handheld.
Head outside, and the HandyGPS initializes, locks on to satellites, and pinpoints your location. Once you're locked on to a satellite, you can use three menus, including Mode, Tool, and Preference, to switch between GPS and map views, mark waypoints and routes, and track satellite signal strength. You can even play back a route you've recorded and view data, including the distance, speed, and bearing of your route.
As noted, one of the advantages of the module is that it's compact--more compact, in fact, than many PDA add-ons on the market. However, the HandyGPS does seem to suffer from some performance issues. As one might expect, it worked best when we were walking around and had an unobstructed view of the sky. But when we hopped in a car and took it for a ride, the HandyGPS constantly lost track of satellite signals and even lost map details on several occasions, with streets simply disappearing off the screen.
On a more positive note, the software interface (which includes pull-down menus) is easy to use, and tapping a single button lets you switch between GPS and mapping functions. Also, getting maps onto the Visor is extremely simple, and you don't even have to pay for them. Just go to Nexian's Web site and download street-level maps of your area. Included in the maps are local points of interest, such as airports, schools, and shopping malls, and you can get directions to your destination before embarking on your journey.
The only problem with the GPS software and the maps is that they're in black and white, which means that if you have a color Visor Prism, you can't take advantage of its color capabilities. However, the folks at Nexian say that will change later this year, when the company releases its next-generation GPS module.
As for power, the HandyGPS uses two AAA batteries, which provided us with a little more than three hours of use before the low-battery signal came on and our Visor Prism needed to be recharged. (The trick to conserving the HandyGPS's battery life is to remove it from your Visor when not in use.)
Despite the problems we encountered with maps disappearing, we thought the HandyGPS was a helpful little add-on for the Visor. We just wish the receiver were a little stronger and that it supported color. But if you have a basic Visor and want to dabble with GPS, at $149.99, the HandyGPS is competitively priced, and it's a good starter kit for novices.