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The OmniGo 100 as a Financial Tool

The OmniGo 100 as a Financial Tool

The OmniGo 100 financial applications get the once over by an HP 200LX-using CPA

By Ray Kump

I put the batteries in the OmniGo 100 and I started right up. It could not have been easier. I placed a 128K SRAM card in the slot and it asked me if I wanted to format it. It was plug and play. I entered my appointments from my old diary and my open ToDo's and I was ready to go.

Even though the HP OmniGo 100, HP's latest product designed for the handhelds market, is advertised as an "organizer," it manages to include some very powerful financial applications. The OmniGo 100 is not an attempt to replace the LX line, and I doubt that many people who own an HP LX will switch over to the OmniGo 100. But for those people who do purchase one, the OmniGo 100 is a neat machine with some interesting new features.

General features

Pen -- The most notable feature of the OmniGo 100 is the pen input. With the pen you can write in financial data, take quick notes, draw graphs or directions, or flowchart a process or procedure. From the Jotter application you can stick pen (or text) input to any application that has a Note field. (Most applications do. Finance and Calculator do not.)

Screen -- The square screen permits data to be rotated 90 degrees for viewing when the cover is completely folded over into notebook form. Because the OmniGo 100 screen is square the width is much smaller than on the 100/200LX.

Financial Applications

The HP OmniGo 100 has three financial applications built-in: the Calculator, Spreadsheet, and Financial programs. Many of the functions found in the Palmtop's HP Calc application are found in the Financial program, along with an HP 12C financial calculator. Here's a description of the financial applications.

Calculator

The OmniGo 100 includes a standard calculator which looks like a normal calculator but comes with the math, trigonometry, and scientific functions you have come to expect from HP. You use the pen to tap the numbers into the calculator and perform the functions by tapping the keys or fields on the screen. As a slower option, you can also write the numbers onto the screen with the pen using Graffiti. You can use the keyboard to input most of the keys and functions as well, but for some you must use the pen.

HP Calc and HP 12C

As mentioned, the Financial application contains many of the functions of the Palmtop HP Calc, along with an HP 12C business calculator.

The built-in HP 12C financial calculator lets you calculate loans, mortgages, and interest over any amounts of time (and more). It is an extremely useful and efficient financial calculator and one of HP's most popular products, (and possibly the most popular financial calculator in the world). You use the pen to tap in the numbers and operations on the screen.

Other Finance features -- The Finance application also has features similar to those in the Palmtop's HP Calc. These include: TVM (Time Value of Money): Cash Flows; Business Percentages; Solver; List Statistics; Conversions; and Date Calculations.

The OmniGo 100 has the same graphing capabilities as the 100/ 200LX's Solver and statistical applications. The pen permits much better graph manipulations.

OG Solver Graphic

 You can tap a point in the graph and get the coordinates or zoom in or out of it. I find the pen much easier to work with than the arrows on the keyboard.

Spreadsheet

The OmniGo 100 also includes a spreadsheet. The functions available include commands familiar to Lotus users. The spreadsheet has a maximum size of 64x64 cells. A spreadsheet macro language is also available. Due to the screen size you see fewer rows and columns at a time than on the LX. Although the screen size is small by LX standards you can use the spreadsheet to keep track of your expenses, your check book, or prepare and review budgets or projections.

Other Considerations

The OmniGo 100 does not have a numeric keypad as does the 100/200LX. This means the keys can be a little larger due to the increased amount of room. As a CPA I am very biased towards a numeric keypad, and many financial executives will most likely agree with me. I am not aware of any organizer on the market which has a numeric keypad. In fact the LX is the only PDA I am aware of with a numeric keypad, so I guess I am spoiled.

Even though the OmniGo 100 keyboard is bigger, it is still a small keyboard. I still prefer the feel of the LX.

The OmniGo 100 has the same serial port as the 100/200LX so you can print out your spreadsheets or charts for distribution.

OmniGo 100 for a different type of user

I realize the OmniGo 100 is an organizer and not a Palmtop, but it is also half as expensive and targets different needs and uses. I've played with the other organizers in the stores and found them to be difficult to use. The OmniGo 100, in contrast, is very easy. I found I was using the OmniGo 100 as soon as I put the batteries in the machine. Even the SRAM card I put in was formatted automatically.

I don't think many LX owners will switch to the OmniGo 100. But if what you want is a powerful financial tool with basic Appointment, ToDo, Phone and Notes applications, the OmniGo 100 is just the ticket.

iPhone Life magazine


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