Earlier versions of Microsoft Corp. handhelds — the ones that used Windows CE Version 2.0 — were poorly designed, the most egregious flaws being short battery life, large size, heavy weight, and screens that were difficult to read. The newly rebranded Pocket PC devices, by virtue of their reliance on the significantly upgraded Version 3.0 of Windows CE, now offer a great combination of features at a competitive price and have eliminated the flaws that plagued their predecessors.
The Hewlett-Packard Co. Jornada received a redesign for Windows CE 3.0. The device is slimmer and narrower than, although equal in weight to, Casio Computer Co. Ltd.’s Cassiopeia. However, I found some of its design components flimsy.
At $749 Cdn MSRP (although availible at $700 Cdn), the Jornada 545 is $115 less expensive than the Cassiopeia. This is due to its smaller (16MB) cache of RAM. Those who like the Jornada but don’t want to make any RAM concessions can opt for the Jornada 548, which has exactly the same amount of RAM at the same price point as the Cassiopeia. However, the Jornada 545’s more affordable price tag will appeal to organizations on a tight budget.
The Jornada sports a design that Palm users will find familiar, with a flip-up screen cover and a stylus compartment inside the cover lid. The Jornada’s stylus is flat instead of cylindrical, which made it a bit difficult to use. It has a 240-pixel-by-320-pixel 16-bit color LCD, 133MHz CPU, USB and infrared slots, and a single Type I CompactFlash card slot. Both units wisely provide a cover for the CompactFlash card slot and, although the Jornada’s slot cover was a bit fragile, I liked that it popped up and dropped into the back of the unit, staying out of the way and making it less likely to be broken or lost.
The Jornada has four hot keys on the front panel. Similar to the Cassiopeia’s, the Jornada’s action button is located on the left side of the unit. The HP action button felt very flimsy and supported only left to right scrolling.
Synchronizing data with my desktop PC was faster with Jornada’s USB than it was with Cassiopeia’s serial connection.
The Jornada possesses superior battery life: approximately 8 hours between charges, assuming typical use. Jornada users can take advantage of the power-saving option that lets them turn off their displays while they listen to audio via the built-in MP3 player.
Both the Jornada 545 and the Cassiopeia E-115 adequately address the key needs of business users on the go. The main points of distinction reside largely with the hardware design, although a $115 price discrepancy may help influence some buyers toward the lower-priced Jornada 545.
Ana Orubeondo is a senior analyst for the InfoWorld Test Center. She can be contacted at [email protected]
THE BOTTOM LINE: VERY GOOD
Business Case: A smaller price tag may make the Jornada 545 appealing to organizations with hard-and-fast budget constraints, but this version of the Jornada has only 16MB of RAM. Those who like the Jornada but don’t wish to make a concession in RAM can opt for the 32MB Jornada 548. ($819 MSRP Streetprice=$714)
Technology Case: The Jornada sports a slim Palmlike casing, but some design issues, in particular a less-functional action button and an unusually shaped stylus, make it a bit cumbersome to use.
+ Works with core Windows applications
+ Slim design
+ Less expensive than 32MB versions
– Supports only CompactFlash Type I PC Cards
– Flimsy, limited-action button
Platform(s): Can synch with Windows 98 or Windows NT 4.0 (with Service Pack 3 or later) desktop machines
Hewlett-Packard Co., Palo Alto, California; (800) 307-6397; www.hp.com.
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Prices listed are in Cdn currency.