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Hands-on reviews. (Spotlight: Handhelds & PDAs).

While neither the fastest nor smallest PDA, the HP Jornada 525 Pocket PC is perfect for educators looking for a high-quality, low-end PDA. Part of the Jornada Pocket PC series, the Jornada 525 offers a 133 MHz 32-bit Hitachi processor with 16 MB of RAM. It weighs 8 oz. and measures 5.2" x 3.1" x 0.7", which makes it just small enough to fit in your pocket, but heavy enough so you won't forget that it's there.

The Jornada 525 is housed in a metal case with rubberized sides, which started to come off the unit immediately after I received it. It lacks the hard-cover flip lid that comes standard with higher-end Jornada models, though it is available as an add-on accessory. Instead, this model comes with a leather pouch that includes a hidden, and hard to find, sleeve to hold the stylus. The Jornada 525 includes a 3.75" color display with 8-bit color, which is just right for an electronic organizer, but is inadequate for displaying high-quality Web pages or other digital images.

It comes with the Pocket PC versions of Microsoft Windows, Word, Excel, Outlook and Reader. The Jornada 525 includes Windows Media Player to listen to digital files such as MP3s, and features a built-in voice recorder, which is a great feature for any busy educator. The addition of four configurable quick-launch keys on the front of the PDA is another great feature. These quick-launch keys let you jump from one application to the next with the touch of a button.

The Jornada 525 also lets you choose how you want to input data: you can use the stylus and the touch-screen, the handwriting-recognition software, or attach a keyboard. It comes with a CompactFlash Type I card slot located conveniently at the top of the unit, but only offers a serial port with a serial sync cable. This model in the HP Jornada series does not have USB connection options, which may cause a problem for some--especially tech-savvy users who don't like to wait around while their PDA transfers files or synchronizes with their PC. Overall, the HP Jornada 525 is great for educators who need an easy-to-use, affordable PDA with all the basic features to help them survive in today's wireless world. Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, CA, (800) 552-8500, www.hp.com.

Grade: B-

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The Apple iPod, while not exactly a necessity for an educator or student, is definitely in a league of its own. It doesn't come with a stylus or a bright, high-resolution display because it's not that type of handheld device. It is designed as an MP3 player, but for educators it is a great option for storing and listening to digital books, as well as a convenient way to transport files between home and the classroom.

The iPod can store up to 1,000 CD-quality songs or other digital files on its 5 GB hard drive--which doubles as a portable FireWire hard drive for storing presentations, large documents, images and even digital movies. If this doesn't impress you, the iPod is also ultraportable, at only 6.5 oz., and about as big as a deck of cards. It offers up to 10 hours of continuous play--powered by its rechargeable lithium polymer battery--and even recharges when it is connected to a Mac, using power supplied over the FireWire cable.

iPods play MP3, MP3 VBR, AIFF and WAV files, and can support MP3 bit rates up to 320 Kbps. In addition, the iPod's firmware enables support of future audio formats. The iPod features a 60-m Watt amplifier, which delivers amazing sound for listening to your favorite music or digital books. It also features a 20-minute skip protection that allows uninterrupted playback. The iPod is easy to operate and use with its scroll wheel and its customizable features, which include shuffle, repeat, a sleep timer and start-up volume control. It also offers an Auto-Sync feature that makes it easy to update your digital files any time you use the iTunes 2 software to connect your iPod to your Mac. This software, which is included with the iPod, enables users to burn and recognize MP3 CDs, create playlists and manage files.

The iPod's only real downside is, at this time, it only works with Macs. Its price point at $399 also places it on the expensive side compared to other MP3 players, though no other player compares to the storage capacity and the quality of the iPod. While the iPod is made for Mac fanatics, it will also impress PC lovers. Apple, Cupertino, CA, (800)MY-APPLE, www.apple.com/education.

Grade: A

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Article Details
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Author:Miller, Matthew
Publication:T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Words:773
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