HP Jornada 820
HP Jornada 420
HP Capshare 920
Stars and Gripes
I dont think it unfair to say
that at least two of the three Hewlett-Packard items that Ill be talking about this
month could be regarded as items that many now carry about as a matter of course. The
first of these is the HP Jornada 820, a Windows CE Handheld PC with a 640x480 display,
that switches on and off at the tap of an <Esc> key, and weighs the square root of
not a lot especially when compared to some of the so-called portable monsters that
we tend to lug about. The next item is the HP Jornada 420, a chunky palm-size CE device, displaying its
wares in colour, and capable of being carried comfortably in any bag, although it has to
be said that your pockets might stretch a bit. Lastly, a device touted as being the ideal
companion to a Jornada, the HP Capshare 910, completed the ensemble.
impressions of the 820 were excellent. I liked the weight, a mere 2.5lbs, and I liked the
size, and I liked the way I could just hit the <Esc> key and be right back into the
application I had just been working on, or just hit the <Esc> key and have it
descend into instant sleep. The applications were familiar, and the keyboard was extremely
easy to get on with, not something I usually find to be the case with any sort of portable
device, to be frank. Yes, granted theres no CD, and no floppy, but then this is a
Handheld PC, not some portable trying to masquerade as a desktop, and its very
important to recognise the difference.I found it invaluable for taking notes during the
many sessions and meetings I attended at Tech Ed, and while the screen can seem quite
bright in a darkened hall, you can always tone it down if you like. The easy on/off
capability just made it perfect for this sort of environment, and meant that you knew the
two rows behind you werent forever straining to see just what it was you were
writing whenever you used it.
Jornada 420 is a newer version of my old beast, and I was looking forward to trying it out
as it was in colour, and I do find greyscale to be a tad boring after a while. I
wasnt entirely convinced by the looks, which are of the rugged, chunky type, and I
noted that it was a big beast too. The flap to protect the screen was excellent however,
and would have saved one of my old devices had it been there at the time. My only problem
with it was that I couldnt get beyond the stylus recognition phase, which is just
about the first thing you do when you get your device and fire it up for the first time.
HP immediately sent me a new device, which I discovered was no better than the first.
Worried that I was misreading the perfectly plain instructions, a call to HP technical
support brought instant relief. The instructions say to tap on the screen. Dont
bother. You actually need to press firmly when doing this setup, and hold the pressure
until the machine accepts the input. For obvious reasons dont press too hard
otherwise youll be forking out for a new one because youve broken the screen,
but you will need to apply a firm steady pressure rather than tapping the point.
Dave Moss reviews the HP Jornada 820, the Jornada 420 and the HP Capshare 910.
Once I was flying, I was comfortably into the machine as it had all the software I was
already used to. My big disappointment was the colour screen. No matter what I did to the
settings, it was just too washed out and it was worse the higher up the screen it went,
but I checked out one at Tech Ed, and it wasnt much better. A mere 256 colours in
8-bit dont do the business at all.
However, if you are the owner of one of these beasts and want to try and fix that, a visit
to the URL below, will give you access to a 65,536 colour 32-bit driver, and that just
improves the whole shooting match no end. You can even switch between the two colour
formats once the upgrade is installed.
to the Capshare 910, I have to admit to mixed feelings. It is a handheld scanner
basically, and you can carry it about with you, merrily scanning documents when you feel
like it, and they get stored in memory on the scanner. When you wish to do so, you can
point the Capshare at your Jornada 820, for example, and fire the captured documents onto
it via the infra red connection.
That is neat, and it works well. What I am less convinced about is the quality of the
captured documents, which always seemed blocky to me, and the way you have to use it when
capturing documents that are wider than the Capshares capture area. The device
stands upright when you scan, and to capture large documents, you simply drag it down one
side of the document, along the bottom, and then up the other side. The Capshare takes
care of stitching the two sides together, something it does quite superbly.
My problem was that I could never get the Capshare to remain straight so that the captured
document didnt come out at a slight angle. I am reasonably sure that the necessity
to keep holding the scan button down while dragging the Capshare along the document has
something to do with that.
That said, it certainly does the job it is designed to do, and if you want high-quality
scans you will almost certainly have a better scanner somewhere else anyway. For capturing
on the road the Capshare fits the bill, and I would have to say that it isnt a bad
companion to have around if you need to do a quick capture. Just dont expect any OCR
software to perform with any great certainty on the results, but you should be able to
read the captured files contents without too much difficulty.
Stars and Gripes
On a star rating front, Im awarding the Jornada
820 4.5 stars, because I thought it was just great, but only 2.5 stars to the Jornada 420
as it comes out of the box. I found it somewhat too large to carry comfortably in a
pocket, and it needs that colour upgrade to make the screen useable in all but the darkest
areas.The Capshare 910 gets 2 stars. I think the ergonomics need a little work, and the
capture quality might not be all it should be, but it is extremely portable, and it has
excellent data transfer capability. It is however quite expensive too. I would recommend
going along and testing it first before ordering one on spec.
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