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Visor finds voice

Handspring's PDA will tell you the news

The increasingly versatile Handspring Visor can now read you a book. Audible and Card Access have released the Audible Advisor, a Handspring Springboard module that lets you download and play audio books, newspapers, and other content through Audible.com's online service.

The Audible Advisor is just the latest in a handful of mobile-friendly devices that let you take content - in this case Audible's books, newspapers and magazines - on the road.

Currently only available via the US site, Handspring couldn't confirm when the module would be available over here but said UK Visor owners could still buy and use the $129 device via Audible.com.

The Audible Advisor has 16MB of storage capacity, which can hold 4.4 hours of audio. Audible offers audio in a wide range of compressions, with a choice between FM- and CD-quality sound.

The Audible Advisor keeps track of what you listen to each day, and the next time you sync, it gets rid of the content you've already heard and replaces it with new material. So, for example, if you've listened to two hours of the latest John Grisham novel, it ditches that content and moves two hours of new content into storage on the device. It works the same way with daily news.

Since the Audible Advisor doesn't have its own batteries, all this listening will drain your Handspring's batteries, but not at a greatly increased rate, says Card Access' spokesman Scott Boekweg.

In fact, if you listen to the device with Handspring's display turned off, you'll get about 30 hours of playback time out of fresh alkaline batteries, he says. That's significantly better battery life than some add-on MP3 players have offered when connected to a Handspring.

And the Audible Advisor is software-upgradable, Boekweg says. For example, at some point the company could offer a free download to turn the device into a voice recorder, he says.

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