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Connectivity and the HP OmniGo 100

Connectivity and the HP OmniGo 100

David Shier takes a look at printing and HP's Connectivity Pack for the HP OmniGo 100

By David Shier

As HPs first entry into the organizer market, I was impressed with the OmniGo 100. At a suggested retail price of $350, I think it should be a clear winner. The unique feature of being able to use the OmniGo 100 with a keyboard (like a Palmtop), or a pen (folding the display back and rotating the screen to function like a organizer), sets it apart from the crowd of competitors.

The OmniGo 100 does not currently have any built-in software to support fax or data modems so it was not possible to try any PC Card modems with the unit. We did test printing and the OmniGo 100 Connectivity Pack from HP.

The OmniGo 100 uses the same serial port connector as the 100LX/200LX and has a maximum baud rate on the port of 19,200. There is no infrared port.

Printing

Connecting to various printers was quite simple. Using the custom cables our company, Shier Systems, makes for the HP Palmtops, I was able to print on both the Pentax PocketJet and the Citizen PN60 printers on the first try.

All applications support printing screen images, and a few applications, such as NotePad and Spreadsheet, support printing complete databases or files. Printing is handled in the background so that you can continue to work while waiting for the output.

Printing output is currently formatted in the same width as the OmniGo 100 screen. That is, the right margin wraps at the same column as you see on the screen. This is to keep the text and ink aligned, but limits the use for portable printing of business letters or other documents you might store on the unit.

An exception to this is the Spreadsheet application. Spreadsheet prints in a much smaller font than what is available in other applications, and prints across the full width of the paper.

The Connectivity Pack

The HP OmniGo 100 Connectivity Pack is a Windows application that includes a cable and adapters. The Connectivity Pack is used for automated file management, backup and synchronization between the OmniGo 100 and a desktop PC.

The Connectivity Pack doesn't use the LapLink Remote Protocol of the HP 100LX/200LX Connectivity Pack. This means that you don't need to load any drivers, and although I wasn't able to try it with Windows 95, it should work.

Like printing, the Connectivity Pack software worked the first time without problem. This is a strong point for the OmniGo 100, since it targets the "user friendly" market.

Synchronizing with "Hotsync"

The Connectivity Pack is designed to synchronize your PhoneBook, Appointment Book, and NotePad on the OmniGo 100 with those on your PC. This means that if you change data in either the OmniGo 100 or your PC, HotSync examines each record and updates the files so that the most current record is in both locations.

The Connectivity Pack keeps copies of the OmniGo 100 files in a subdirectory on a PC specific to a given OmniGo 100 user. This way you can have multiple OmniGo 100s backed-up on one PC by specifying different users to the Connectivity Pack software.

Importing and exporting other file formats

The Connectivity Pack provides a basic set of import and export features for the PhoneBook, NotePad, Appointment Book and Database. You can import and export them to comma delimited, tab delimited and dBase formats.

In addition, you can import Appointment Book, PhoneBook, and NoteTaker records from the 100LX/200LX file format. But you can't export them directly to the Palmtop format. Some information can get lost in the transfer due to differences in the file format. Therefore, HP Palmtop users might be better off using comma delimited format if they wish to export files to the OmniGo 100 

The future

Overall, I must say I was impressed with HPs first entry into the organizer market, especially considering the price. The OmniGo 100 and The OmniGo 100 Connectivity Pack provide a quality product for the market they are aimed at. They do, of course, both have their limitations, some of which were mentioned in this article. But for a third party product developer... Well, limitations are the stuff that makes us get up in the morning.

[Editors note: Another connectivity product for the OmniGo 100 is Clip & Go developed by Geoworks, and distributed and supported by HP. HP describes it as an innovative, simple way to transfer data from a Windows-based PC to the HP OmniGo 100 and back again. Once connected by serial ports, you can Cut, Copy and Paste text, spreadsheet, and ink data either direction between a PC and the OmniGo 100. Applications supported include Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3, QuattroPro, Microsoft Word, AmiPro, WordPerfect and Microsoft Paintbrush. The Connectivity Kit does not transfer spreadsheet files. (See Product Index, page 63, for more information.]

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