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By Chris De Herrera 
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Jornada 720 Review
By Justin Yu, Copyright 2000
 Version 1.00  Revised 11/8/2000

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Introduction

In Hewlett Packard’s long line of “Jornada” PDA’s, the Jornada 720 is one of the newest to hit the market.  Successor to the 690, the 720 is HP’s answer to the Pocket PC OS.  The main difference between the 690 and the 720 is the 720’s new Handheld PC 2000 Operating System.  Together with a stereo speaker output, the Jornada 720 falls in place as the top Handheld PC on the market today.

Editors Note:  This review is from the perspective of a consumer purchasing the Jornada 720.  There are many useful features that are designed for business users such as the Terminal Server Client, Smart Card Reader, and Chai VM.

Specifications

206 Mhz StrongARM SA111x processor
2D graphics acceleration
32 MB RAM
56K internal Modem
PCMCIA type II slot
Compact Flash type I slot
Smart Card slot
Stereo headphone jack
Voice Recorder
Touch Screen input

Software

Windows Handheld PC 2000 OS
Yahoo Messenger
Landware’s Omnisolve
Pocket Microsoft Office:
Access
Excel
Word
PowerPoint
Pocket Outlook
Windows Media Player
Internet Explorer
Calculator
Inkwriter
Terminal Server Client
World Clock
Terminal Program
Solitaire
HP Software
Viewer
QuickPad
Backup
ChaiVM (Java VM)
Hotkeys
Security

Hardware

            *(Note: The 720’s form factor is very similar to that of the 690.  Before reading this review, check out my review of the 690)  

            Finally, Hewlett Packard has answered the complaints of thousands of frustrated 690 owners and fixed the compact flash slot!  What was once a clumsy mess of latches is now a smooth and level foundation.  I liked the fact that the backup battery is also housed in the compact flash casing.  The underside of the machine also houses the stereo speaker.  I was a bit disappointed about the placement of the speaker, since the sound is drastically muffled when put on a desk.  Of course using headphones easily solves this problem.  The front end of the Jornada contains the classic stylus silo and microphone controllers.  One improvement that I thought HP should have corrected is the “loose” top.  Other HPC’s have a latch that connects to the bottom of the machine to ensure that the unit doesn’t pop up on its own, but the Jornada is only weighted down.  I haven’t had problems with it coming up, but there must be long-time Jornada users out there who have experienced this predicament. I am also confused as to why the alarm light on the unit is press able.  If anyone knows the function of the button itself, please feel free to drop me an email to explain.  The keyboard, like the 690 is a little small for some.  I had little to no mistakes when typing on the machine, I actually enjoyed the tiny little keys.  Other than a few cosmetic changes on the underbelly of the HPC, it’s pretty much the same as the 690.

Connections

            HP gives the user a choice of whether to use USB or a Serial connector to sync their Jornada 720 with.  Unfortunately, only a serial cable was provided by HP, so make a trip to Fry’s and pick up a USB connector cable.  It will definitely be worth the time and money, since USB transfers MUCH faster than serial. 

Battery Life

            The battery life seems to be about the same as the 690, give or take an hour of usage.  In the world of PDA’s, a long battery life is essential.  Who hasn’t experienced the horror of a “battery low” sign come up on the screen at a crucial time during the day? The average life of the battery with standard usage is around 9 hours.  I mentioned in my review of the Jornada 690 that the battery lasted for “8 hours and more.”  They’re both about the same, even though HP claims the life is a bit longer. 

Speed

            One significant change to the unit from the J690 is the speed.  The 690 contained a 133 MHz 32-bit Hitachi SH3 processor, while the new 720 runs a 206 MHz 32-bit StrongARM SA1110 processor.  I could see a significant improvement in speed, especially when changing applications.  Waiting is not an issue with the Jornada 720.

Screen

            The 6.5 inch color LCD display screen is able to show 65,536 colors. (Let’s hope HP is for sure this time.)  As always, the screen was quite impressive, with shortcut keys to preferences on the side of the screen.  The HP website says that it is capable of displaying 2d graphics, but I have yet to download and install a program which takes advantage of it.  As always, reading the screen outside in daylight is almost completely impossible. 

Stereo

            The stereo output on the J720 is ASTOUNDING compared to the terrible speaker (if you can even call it that) on the J690.  I could barely make out my voice, much less an mp3 on the 690, but with this new unit, any type of audio is possible.  Stereo output through the headphones sound excellent, 128k/sec.  Of course I wish that the volume could go up a bit higher, but that’s probably just me being odd. 

Handheld PC 2000 OS

            The new WinCe2000 OS is actually quite impressive.  It was originally designed to keep up with the Pocket PC OS, and it’s obvious from looking at some of the applications included.   HP Viewer has changed a bit from the original on the 690, and a Windows Media Player is also included for listening to your favorite Mp3’s.  I was hoping to have a chance to test out a .mpeg player on it, but Pocket TV has yet to make their software available for the new OS.  The trial version of Sierra Imaging Software also works like a charm.   HP Dialup was reformatted for the updated OS, and it’s much easier to modify or create a new location with the latest layout. Having problems setting up an email account?  Email me. 

Price

            List priced at $999, it might be a little steep for some.  Honestly, I believe spending $900 on a Handheld PC is ridiculous, but hey, if you need it you need it.  Overall the machine is an excellent unit, jam-packed with all sorts of new adjustments, mainly to the OS.  Significant improvements in the stereo speaker were also big plusses. 

Pros

Cons

 - Excellent improvement in form factor (mainly underneath the unit)

 - Keyboard might be cramped for those with large hands

 - Excellent sound system

 - Not a big deal, but an included USB cable wouldn’t hurt.

 - Updated OS works perfectly

 - No exciting and new cosmetic changes

 - Speed is definitely the fastest out of all the Handheld PC’s

 - High price might turn off potential buyers

3 Out of 5 Stars ***

Questions or comments? Feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] PC FAQ

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