Product review: Gadget: Jornada 680

So far, the Palm handheld has hit the PDA market right on the money. But beyond personal-information-manager (PIM) functionality, it's a stretch for pen-based computers to rise to traditional laptop tasks like lengthy memo composition and on-the-go e-mailing. Luckily for typewriter-loving types, there's the Jornada 680, a handheld PC that's a scaled-down sister to HP's Jupiter-class Jornada 820.

This Windows CE workhorse is small (0.5kg) but fat with features, including a small desktop-style keyboard, 6.5in diagonal colour touch-screen display, 56Kbit/sec internal modem and flat-docking cradle for desktop synching. Based on a 133MHz processor, the Jornada 680 is outfitted with the full suite of software, including Microsoft Pocket Access, Excel, Outlook, Word and Explorer.

Drop a Franklin Rex device right into the Type II PC card slot on the underbelly of the machine and the Jornada 680 becomes the perfect middleman between your desktop and pocket PIM. Still, the Jornada 680 is not the end-all in CE devices -- notably missing is an earphone jack and the ability to play MP3 audio files. But even if it falls slightly short in terms of multimedia, the Jornada 680 excels in productivity when a laptop is just too much to carry.


Score (1-5): Utility: 2; Design: 3

Estimated lifespan: One year (until it comes with a built-in wireless modem) Price: $US899 Requirements: A 486-33DX processor or higher, CD-ROM drive and one available 9-pin serial communications port

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