Running on the smoothly styled Jornada, the new operating system behaves more tightly than the earlier Windows CE. There are no overlapping windows, and no fancy-but-slow shading effects. Programs launch from the Start Menu, which slides down from the top of the screen, while other options roll up from the bottom. A single OK button confirms selections and closes the active window with a single click. Pocket versions of Word, Money, Excel, Media Player and Internet Explorer are included, together with an Outlook-compatible Calendar and Contact manager. Hewlett-Packard sweetens the Jornada deal with a suite of third party programs, including a handy image viewer and the very neat ZIO Golf. Handwriting recognition is much improved, though I still get better results with Palm's simplified Graffiti system.
The Pocket PC operating system might be lighter, but the hardware is certainly not. Weighing 280g, the Jornada is nearly 100g heavier than the colour Palm IIIc, and 50 per cent thicker. Otherwise, the overall dimensions are similar to the Palm IIIc - side by side, they look like close cousins, though the Jornada's rubber-trimmed casing feels and looks more substantial. The Jornada's screen is superior, too - a larger display area, and more tightly packed pixels.
The Jornada's CompactFlash slot means I can instantly preview pics from my Kodak DC200 camera, and pre-load sparkling MP3 audio files from my PC. Keep in mind, though, that if you're planning to use your Jornada in all-singing-all-dancing multimedia role, the standard 8MB of memory on board is not nearly enough - and the convenience of extra CompactFlash cards comes at considerable extra cost.
Overall, this is the first handheld running any flavour of Windows that's generated even a flicker of desire for me. The colour Palm IIIc is still the more functional option - but the Jornada may offer enough enticing extras to finally tip the balance.
HP Jornada 545
Phone: 13 2347