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For the benefit of this review I will assume that you've seen a Jornada (or a picture of) and thought "cool, I wonder what it can do." I've had mine over a week now and trust me, it's not cool! It's waay cool!!
Firstly, I have to tell you I am writing this entire review on my HP Jornada 568. Hopefully this introductory statement will go part the way to explaining it's incredible flexibility. You see, if you are used to spending half your life in the Microsoft Windows environment you will be right at home here.
But what is it? Technically speaking it's a PDA (if you don't know what a PDA is then you probably won't be buying this little number anyway), but it does a whole lot more than just handle personal data, depending on what you class as data of a personal nature. Generally I tend to think of this as telephone numbers, addresses and birthdays. Clearly this is not the case as you would need to be related to half of London to fill the 64 megs of RAM onboard the 568.
At this point you may be a little worried. Yes, unless you invest in a Compact Flash card for extra additional memory all of your workings will be saved in RAM. But you need fret not. In a way the Jornada is always switched on. There's this little power button on the front left which, well, activates the handheld. When not switched on everything is stored safely until you power up again.
Here's the neat bit. Remember I said the HP Jornada was a windows environment. Well get this. There's no boot or shut down sequence. That's right. Switch the machine of in the middle of something important and you will lose absolutely nothing. What's more, you won't have to wait an age for scandisk to run. There is no disc to scan!
This is Windows without the negatives, and that has to be good.
I'm writing this on Pocket Word. Essentially it's the same as Word but with the advanced features switched off. You've got a few basic fonts, bold italic, underline, left, right and centre align, bullets, cut, copy, paste, paragraph, find, replace, various zooms (75 to 300 percent), spell check and word count, as well as a few other machine based commands. Input is fairly straightforward if a little slower than a regular four fingered typist (i.e.. me). There are a number of ways to write with a special stylus pen (provided and stored in it's own natty internal holder so you really shouldn't be able to lose it) directly onto the screen. Even with my shabby handwriting (just ask ciao member and work colleague "dchurch") the recognition software is pretty accurate. If you prefer to type there's a keypad on the touchscreen. If you really prefer there's a foldaway keyboard available (at a cost) but it really isn't necessary.
Then there's Pocket Excel. No surprises here. It's a watered down version of the full program, but more than operational for playing with spreadsheets on the run.
The there's basically Outlook in your back pocket. I write most of my emails away from the PC now. The search engine on the address book helps me find pizza places at the touch of a button (literally).
The biggest surprise for me is how the calendar is actually changing my life. I can set the Jornada to remind me tomorrow's my Mum's birthday, something I want to watch is about to start on the telly, and any anniversaries are automatically dealt with (except for writing in the card).
And there's so much more.
When your not working you can play MP3 files (software is provided with the Jornada for converting your CDs into MP3), view family photos or any other pictures with the image viewer or play a game (there are plenty out there, but solitaire comes free). You can record an audio note to yourself, doodle or even view a mini movie on Windows Media Player.
At the end of the day you simply sit the 568 in it's cradle where it will recharge (there's more than plenty life in the battery to see you through the day) and synchronise with your PC (that's upload and download any changes).
Was it worth the £459 I reluctantly paid Dixon's (plus £110 warrantee, recommended just incase you drop it or it gets stolen).
I've had no major problems with the machine and don't foresee any. HP clearly know the future is in Pocket PC (and not the glorious Palm OS system) and have built a marvellous toy (sorry, work tool).