HP Jornada 720 Handheld PC Review

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Hewlett Packard is one of the long-standing developers of small PCs and PC like devices. HP was one of the first manufacturers with handheld DOS computers the HP 95LX, 100LX and 200LX. They have since followed on with a long series of improvements in hardware and software including the new Pocket PC’s and the latest handheld the Jornada 720. It is interesting to note that the 200LX came with Quicken and Lotus 123 and the Jornada now has Microsoft Money and Excel.

The following picture shows the HP 200LX next to its’ great grandson the HP 720. The LAN card and adapter in the foreground is a Xircom low power Ethernet card in the PCMCIA adapter and a Palm Vx

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The HP Jornada 720 is the most advanced HP handheld computer to date.


206 Mhz StrongARM SA111x processor
2D graphics acceleration
56K internal Modem
PCMCIA type II slot
Compact Flash type I slot
Smart Card slot
Stereo headphone jack
Voice Recorder
Touch Screen input

The Jornada 720 runs Microsoft Windows Handheld PC (H/PC) 2000 Operating System. This OS is a modified version of the Pocket PC version of Windows CE 3.0.

Software loaded in ROM:

Windows Handheld PC 2000 OS
Yahoo Messenger
Landware’s Omnisolve
Pocket Microsoft Office:
Pocket Outlook
Windows Media Player
Internet Explorer
Terminal Server Client
World Clock
Terminal Program
HP Software
ChaiVM (Java VM)

Buried in the Microsoft Outlook software is another application that allows IR communications between the Jornada 720 and the Palm Pilot.

In addition to the above there are several other packages on the HP web site for owners. HP did not send me their normal CD with “extras” on it. I think that they may have been a bit rushed.

IntraNet Solutions Quick View Plus v6 (shows enclosures in email)
MusicMatch JukeBox v 5.10
HPC Notes 3.04 Lite (to replace the missing notes software in pocket outlook)
HP Top tools
HP smartcard reader driver (not there yet)

Accessories are included with the 720:

Standard Battery pack
Docking Cradle
Serial cable for PC to docking or PC to 720 direct
AC adapter (universal 100 – 240 Vac)

NOTE: Even though the cradle has a USB connector HP did not ship one with the 720.

Here are pictures of both ends of the 720. The left side has the headset jack, the smartcard slot, and the PCMCIA card slot. The right side has the power battery charge light, the end of the stylus, the power jack, and the rj11 connector for the modem.

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Here is the rear of the Jornada 720, showing the serial port, main battery, and the IR port. Note in the hinge center is the alarm light which is also the alarm cancel switch.

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The bottom of the 690 had a pop out that was a mechanical nightmare! With the 720 HP, that problem has been solved; with a nice flat bottom. You can see compact flash door the battery latch and the speaker holes.

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Here is another shot of the bottom of the 720 with the compact flash door open and a CF card installed. Under the CF slot is the backup battery; a standard CR2032. From this angle you can see the two rows of 5 pads that the pins in the cradle connect to.

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The front edge of the 720 houses the stylus and the buttons for the voice recorder. There is a lock switch that prevents unwanted recordings and a led to display status of the voice recorder. The microphone is to the left of the buttons.

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The Jornada 720 is a very solid feeling PDA, the case does not twist or feel cheap. The 720 is not a light weight unit; at 1.1 pounds. It is not a Palm Vx!. The AC adapter is small and light, it will not add much to your travel pouch.

HP claims that the battery life with the standard battery is 9 hours and with the extended battery it is 24 hours. My initial testing, was done with a  low power Ethernet card inserted.  I have achieved over 10 hours of operation and I have not charged the unit yet.

Here is a picture with the extended battery attached. Even though the extended battery is big; it does stabilize the unit when you are using it. Both batteries are Lithium-Ion type.

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One interesting accessory that HP has for the 720 is their external battery charger. This charger connects in series with the docking station. With the following setup you can charge two batteries and operate the Jornada 720 at the same time. This picture also shows the size of the power adapter.

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The Jornada 720 is significantly faster than its older sibling the 690. The improved OS and much faster hardware give the 720 quite a bit of zip! On the 690, things just seem sluggish. On the Jornada 720 this is not an issue. The audio from the speaker is a lot better than the 690, but the downward facing speaker tends to mute the sound. The 720 headphone audio is quite a bit better than my Jornada 545 was, the sound is fuller and louder. HP did not include a set of headphones with the 720.

Operating the 720 is a pleasure. The keyboard is small, but it is very acceptable as a typing tool. The stylus is a light plastic which is just ok to use, I would like it to have a little more mass. I have been able to sync very nicely with my Windows 2000 laptop using USB, Serial, and IR. Network sync functions work well with my Xircom card running in the PCMCIA adapter. I have had one time where it would not sync using USB. I removed it from the cradle, re-inserted it, all went fine.

The screen is readable in almost all lighting conditions. However, in the sunlight it is pretty weak, but I have found it useable. The screen is not as reflective as my Palm IIIc, which helps with the visibility.

Some users may not like the location of the compact flash card slot. Since I use it more like a hard disk that interchangeable media, the location does not bother me. It is very nice to have the PCMCIA card insert and remove without the mechanical issues that the 690 had. I have not tested the smartcard reader yet as HP has not released the software for it. It will mostly be useful for folks needing access security, etc. Maybe someday our credit cards, will all have chips in them so we do not have to key in our identification all the time!

I really like the new version of the Windows CE OS. The applications seem to be the same as their Pocket PC versions, some major improvements, and a cleaner interface. HP has included an updated version of their HP Viewer application. It gives a consolidated view
of contacts, todo, and calendar. Microsoft still does not have Outlook notes sync in Pocket Outlook! HP includes the lite version of HPCNotes software from Phatware. IF you use notes: license the standard version of HPCNotes, it solves the problem. I used the
Jornada 545 for about a month and it worked well, but CE just does not fit on that little screen. Having Landware’s OmniSolve gives me enough of a calculator to do my work. Avantgo solves my news and offline browsing needs.

With the big screen I am far happier. I now feel that I can retire my HP200lx and Palm Pilot. With all the new functionality and the included applications, the Jornada 720 will be with me for a long time.

Update 08/15/01:

Over the past few months several web sites have popped up for Jornada 720 users:


There are more links on the roosterlucky site, surf away! Roosterlucky also has a “fix” that allows the buttons on the front of the Jornada 720 to activate the Voice Recorder, Hurray!

There seems to be more and more software available for the Jornada 720. Http://www.aportis.com has released their Doc reader. Aportis also has a PDF converter that takes the text out of a PDF file and makes a DOC format file out of it!

There is a great CAD package available from http://www.pocketcad.com/

Hewlett Packard has released a new device, it is called the Jornada 710. The 710 is a 720 without the internal modem and without a docking station. The HP model number is HP F1889A. It is available in Europe, Latin America Regions, Asia.


Product Information

Manufacturer:Hewlett Packard
  • Finally a version of Windows CE that works!
  • compete machine that does not require extensive accessories to be a laptop replacement.
  • Keyboard is tight
  • Expensive
  • New ARM processor, some software will not work properly

8 thoughts on “HP Jornada 720 Handheld PC Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Michael Forinash

    You can get a charger and extra batteries at Handheld PC and Smartphones magazine. They sell Jornada’s and accessories.


    porque mi jornada 720 no lee las tarjetas WI-FI acaso debo de adaptarle algunos drivers, o algo mas….favor echenme la mano con una respuesta ok

  4. Wow.

    First, thanks for maintaining your older articles like this. I imagine it takes all of a trillionth of a penny to maintain and host. I don’t understand why other outfits with deep pockets erase their older articles. Seems wrong to me.

    Second, great writing. I wish I knew about you guys back in the day. I would have supported you in some way. I got my first 720 in 2004 and used it every day until 2009. The only reason I gave it up was because it would not sync with the only version of Outhouse that would not conflict with other things on my XP machine. Or something like that.

    Third, reading this reminds me of a better time. My life really was simpler then and more enjoyable to boot.

    Four. We really haven’t made any progress since then. It still takes the same amount of time to sit down, compose a letter, edit it, save it and email it as it did 15 years ago.

    Five. $1000 was serious money back then. Outfitting a sales team of 1,000 would cost a cool million. About 50 decent single family residences. Now a million might buy you one of the same type house.

    Six. One of the reasons for the high cost was quality. The only failure on my 720 was the stylus and it broke because I abused it. Now hardware is so much cheaper with corresponding higher failure rates. You need to budget for a new system every 2-3 years to avoid problems.


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