Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Springboard stocking stuffers


By Jason Perlow

Unless you've been sitting under a rock for the last three months, you've no doubt read and heard about the debut of Handspring's first Palm-compatible PDA, the Visor (at You've probably also heard just how difficult they've been to reach, due to the extreme demand for product compounded with Handspring's limited production capabilities. I myself ordered one the first week Handspring announced their availability and had to wait eight weeks for my very own Blue Visor Deluxe to arrive.

However, if you think the Visor folks themselves have been tough to get a hold of, the Springboard modules, which make up the most compelling reasons for a user to go with the Handspring platform in the first place, have been even more difficult to obtain. Many of the early adopters who have ordered Springboards with their Visor units found the Springboards to be on backorder when their Visors eventually were delivered and are still eagerly awaiting their arrival. Third-party Springboard modules such as the coveted Innogear Minijam MP3 and SixPack modules are even rarer. Only pre-production samples are in existence and they aren't expected until early 2000.

If you've been especially good this year, Santa may find it in his heart to deliver the backordered Springboards to you by Christmas. But if you've been aching for a look at the Springboards yet to arrive on your doorstep or if you've been contemplating placing an order for them, you'll probably be pretty jealous of us. We've managed to get our hands on the first three for review. Our verdict? Read on.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf Springboard module

This module was the one that was sent out to the press for evaluation. It's a great game, but it's hardly the best demonstration of what Springboard modules can do. The software has been available for over a year for the Palm Computing platform distributed by Macmillan Software Publishing, so its not new by any stretch of the imagination.

The game allows you to play tournament golf as one of seven PGA golfers, including Tiger Woods, on your choice of three PGA golf courses. The software-only version of the game, when synchronized with your Palm device with all of the courses loaded, takes up over 500K of user memory, so it makes perfect fodder for a Springboard module.

The game plays out over a progression of two screens. The first screen has you lining up your stroke, which is done with an overhead map of the golf course, as shown in Figure A.


The overhead view of the golf course allows you to line up your shot.

The second screen, illustrated in Figure B, has the player hitting the ball, which is depicted by showing the player's legs with an animated club and a tachometer-type gauge indicating the level of power and "centeredness" of the stroke. This "centeredness" determines how far the ball goes and whether it stays on course or veers left or right of the intended destination.