Genealogy Gadgets and Gizmos 7
9/27/2009
Try these thingamajigs and whatchamacallits to make your family history research easier and more fun.

Electronic research pal
Having traveled halfway across the country in pursuit of your Smith ancestors, you're eager to start your research. You compile a list of tasks you hope to complete. Using a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) link, you verify your location and find your way to the local courthouse. You pore through records and papers, cross-reference with information in your databases, then type notes of your findings. Finally, you e-mail your discoveries to your sister, Louise, back home. And you do it all with one hand-held computer—not a back-breaking laptop, but a gizmo that fits in the palm of your hand and barely dents your briefcase.

Sound far-fetched? It's not. Miniature computing devices such as Handspring's new Visor are making the future of family history research look increasingly compact. The Visor is only 4.8 inches tall, 3 inches wide and 0.7 inches deep (slightly larger than a cassette tape case) and weighs a mere 5.4 ounces.

Handspring's expandable, attractively priced version of the popular Palm Pilot hand-held computers uses the same Palm OS operating system. It includes an address book, date book, to-do list, memo pad, calculator and world clock. The Visor also features Springboard, an external expansion slot where you can snap in modules for a modem, GPS receiver, memory card, universal remote, pager, MP3 music player and game pack. And the Visor is an equal-opportunity organizer—it's compatible with both PCs and Macs. When you get home, just pop it into its "dock" and it automatically synchronizes data with your desktop machine.

Software has already been developed to make files from your home computer compatible with your hand-held computer. GedPalm gives you access to all your GEDCOM files, so you can easily take your research with you. A free trial of GedPalm is available at www.ghcssoftware.com/gedpalm.htm; it costs $9.95 to register.

The Visor's price tag won't scare away genealogists on a budget, either. The Visor costs $179 (or $149 without a docking cradle); the Visor Deluxe runs $249 and comes with four times the memory plus a leather slipcase.

For more information on the Handspring Visor, call (888) 565-9393 or see www.handspring.com/products/vindex.asp.