Doing Handsprings Over
Newest Handheld PC is Amazing!
Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D.
The National Psychologist
While most therapists now use computers in their practices, many steer clear
of placing them in their therapy offices. To check a phone number, an
appointment or e-mail, the therapist seem to choose not to have the computer be
a distraction while doing therapy.
Many practitioners have told me that
the decision of where to place their office computer was a conscious one, made
to separate the clinical practice from the business. Many simply feel that
having a computer in their office does not make the office seem friendly and
therapeutic. However, equally often I hear therapists tell me that they would
love to have a computer in their therapy office where it is available for their
use before and after sessions.
Rest easy; your dilemma is no more! Your
salvation has arrived in the form of a Handheld PC (HPC) called the Visor by
HPCs (also called Palmtops or Personal Digital Assistants)
are not new. A few years ago, the Sharp or Casio HPC, touted as an electronic
address book, sold for $500 or more. You could even keep your schedule and write
short notes to yourself. Were they helpful? They were for some, but for others,
they led to nightmares. Does the following story sound familiar?
five years ago, I had not heard from a friend of mine for quite some time. Then,
I received a letter in the mail that asked "all my friends" to send their phone
numbers and e-mail addresses. My friend had bought an electronic address book,
entered his schedule and daily notes. It worked great until the day he lost all
the data. Fortunately, he had saved the addresses on a desktop computer, which
enabled him to send this letter. He admitted that he learned his lesson and now
keeps an electronic address book and a paper copy.
In 1996, 3Com released
the Palm Pilot. It became a success because it contained a new operating system
(called the PalmOS), the timing for its release was perfect, and the marketing
excellent. Today, over 5.5 million Palm Pilots are in use.
What made the
Palm Pilot so important was the its ability to serve as more than an electronic
version of an address book and schedule. Using a language called Graffiti, it
introduced ways for users to write lengthy notes and even access one's e-mail!
In addition, with thousands of software titles and lots of add-on peripherals,
the HPC is actually a small computer that fits in your pocket.
ago, the core developers of the Palm Pilot left the company and formed
Handspring to create a different and better HPC. Handspring's Visor shines in
First, it is priced at a reasonable $149 for two megabytes
of memory and $249 for 8 MB. Comparable Palm Pilots cost several hundred dollars
more. Visors are available from Handspring (http://www.handspring.com/) or from
Staples, Best Buy and Comp USA.
Visor's 8 MB of memory means that you can
write 6,000 memos (1,500 with two MB), have 12,000 addresses, 10 years of
appointments and more. Memos can be quite lengthy. In fact, this 1,100-word
article could be written two of them.
With the Visor and Pilot, you also
get a "cradle" that you hook to your desktop. With the push of a single button,
written material can be transferred into MS Word. Amazing!
Visor wins because it has a unique expansion slot. This slot will accept modules
created by third-party developers who work with Visor to make it do lots of new
tricks. Although the developer program is in its infancy, Handspring's website
heralds the pending release of modules that will make this a truly traveling
computer including (1) a wireless modem for e-mail and Internet access, (2) a
cellular phone, (3) a pager, (4) a digital camera, (5) video games, (6) an MP3
music player, (7) extra memory and more. Several modules are currently available
including Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf and a quick backup module. At least 20 more
are due for release by June 2000.
What makes HPCs especially useful is
the introduction of portable keyboards. I am currently writing this article
using a Visor and a keyboard by Targus called the "Stowaway" (available from http://www.targus.com/, http://www.handspring.com/, and retail
outlets). The Stowaway, which retails for under $100, comes folded in a pouch
the size of the Visor. Press one button and it pops open. Push the sides inward
and you have a full-size keyboard. Pop out a small hookup on the top and you can
easily attach your HPC. Together, the HPC and the Stowaway weigh less than a
The Stowaway must be set on a flat surface. Another option is
LandWare's GoType! keyboard, which has a rigid case and can sit on your lap, a
table, or anywhere (http://www.landware.com/). GoType! is
smaller than full-size, weighs less than 12 ounces, measures 10" x 4" x 1.5" and
costs under $70. GoType! includes a free word processor and hooks directly to
your desktop so you don't need to bring the cradle when you travel.
computer keyboards makes it difficult to keep your wrists straight and avoid a
repetitive stress injury (RSI). The best way to avoid an RSI is to visit http://www.comfortlab.com/ and get a
Comfort Glide, which keeps your wrists straight as you type and a Comfort Point
that does the same for mouse movements. Regardless of whether you buy an HPC,
you should visit Comfort Lab. Their products will help you avoid injuries that
come from repetitive motions. Beware! RSIs are usually permanent, debilitating
and painful. If your wrists feel sore, tingly or numb when you type, you need
Both the Visor and Palm have available software. On a
recent trip to a software store, I counted at least 30 packages that turn an HPC
into a power tool. Visit http://www.handspring.com/ and download
any of their thousand or more programs. Some of these programs are free, while
others charge a small amount. The process of downloading is easy and you get to
try a program before you buy. I downloaded a spreadsheet called "Tiny Sheet"
that I am going to buy for under $20. I also downloaded a few games -- all in
the interest of reviewing the product, you understand!
Alas, I had to
send my demo model of the Visor back to Handspring. I got so used to writing on
it that I bought one for my wife and myself. It is truly an amazing technology
that has already made my life easier.
Copyright, 2000, The National Psychologist. Reprinted with
permission. The National Psychologist is a privately-owned bimonthly newspaper
which may be purchased for $30 a year. Write or call: TNP, 6100 Channingway
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or MC to 614.861.1996.