Sprint to turn Handspring’s Visor into cell

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Sprint to turn Handspring’s Visor into cell
By Reuters
August 1, 2001, 9:55 p.m. PT
Sprint PCS customers who own Handspring Visors will soon be able to use the devices to make phone calls and surf the Web on the Sprint PCS network from anywhere in the United States.

Sprint PCS Group, the No. 4 U.S. wireless telephone operator, and closely held AirPrime on Thursday unveiled Digital Link, an add-on module for Handspring’s handheld that converts the devices into cellular phones.

The news comes on the heels of Handspring’s recent announcement that it has slashed the price of its VisorPhone Springboard module, a Digital Link rival, to $49 from $249. Service for the VisorPhone is available through Cingular Wireless, Powertel and VoiceStream.
Makers of hand-helds, led by Palm and Handspring, have been hurt in recent months by a slowdown in consumer spending, oversupply and heavy discounting that has trimmed sales prices for the devices.

Sprint PCS said its module, made by AirPrime, will begin shipping in September and will sell for $250. The module will be offered at Sprint stores and on its Web site.

Kansas City, Mo.-based Sprint PCS, a unit of Sprint, said it believes consumers will buy its product, even though it is more expensive than VisorPhone Springboard, because it comes with the widest coverage yet for a Visor hand-held computer used as a cell phone.

A Digital Link buyer who already owns a Sprint PCS cell phone can put his Visor computer and his cell phone on the same phone number and service plan for an additional charge of $10 to $20 a month, it said.

Sprint PCS spokeswoman Nancy Sherrer said another reason consumers are likely to buy Digital Link is that the product is “third-generation-ready” (3G-ready). Third-generation wireless service promises high-speed, always-on access to the Internet as well as high-quality video and audio.

Sprint PCS is expected to launch 3G service next year. Consumers who own 3G-ready devices will be able to take advantage of the service with a simple software upgrade.

Sprint PCS said the Visor module, whose battery provides seven hours of talk time and 11 to 13 days of standby time, will have 11 hours of talk time and more than 20 hours of standby time on 3G networks.

Story Copyright 2001 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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