Pocket organizer meets the pen – Sharp Electronics Corp.’s Wizard OZ-9600 pocket organizer – Hardware Review – Evaluation
Sharp Wizard 0Z-9600 Rating: ***
AT A GLANCE: A step in the right direction, this pocket organizer stores handwritten notes but, unfortunately, can’t convert your handwriting to text. Includes organizing essentials, such as a handy phone book, scheduler, and anniversary/birthday list.
DOCUMENTATION: Manuals are clearly written, with good indexes; once you find it, on-screen help is graphic and excellent.
EASE OF USE: Moderate to easy, thanks to graphic user interface, although I had trouble finding the Help key. SUPPORT: I got through on the 800 number immediately, and the technicians were helpful.
LIST PRICE: $650
AVERAGE STREET PRICE: $500
DIMENSIONS: 7.1 by 4.1 by 1 inch
WEIGHT: One pound (including batteries)
MEMORY: 256K total, 125K available for user files (expandable to 512K with RAM card 0Z783 [$249]); separate memory backup battery included
MANUFACTURER: Sharp Electronics Corp., Sharp Plaza, Mahwah, NJ 07430; (201) 529-8200, (800) 321-8877
Sharp’s newest pocket organizer begins to address the awkwardness of typing notes on a tiny keyboard by offering “electronic ink” pen input and a pen-operated graphic user-interface. This Wizard is not a full-fledged pen computer because it can’t interpret and convert your handwriting to text. Instead, the organizer’s scrapbook function stores each screen of handwritten notes as a bit-mapped image in its electronic memory.
How does it work? You write your notes directly onto the screen with a stylus, a plastic stick shaped like a pen. Each time I wrote a note, however, I found it took a few seconds to relearn the right touch. Erasing a page of the scrapbook is easy, which encouraged me to experiment.
The ability to quickly scratch out a note or drawing comes in handy. For instance, maps drawn in the scrapbook can be electronically attached to telephone book entries; when you look up an address, you find the map. You can also first write phone numbers and appointments by hand, and type them into the phone book or scheduler at a more convenient time. Unfortunately, I found that the amount of information I could write on one scrapbook page–perhaps one or two names and phone numbers–limited the usefulness of this feature.
Each scrapbook page takes up between 2K and 8K, so you can normally store about 40 of them at one time. An optional RAM card ($249) doubles the available memory. To see how much memory you’re using up, the tools menu includes a handy memory meter, a thoughtful touch.
Decent display. Because it’s not backlit, the Wizard’s screen must be viewed in at least moderate ambient light, such as on an airplane or in a dimly lit room. But the 320-by-240-pixel LCD is crude by computer standards. (By contrast, most PC notebook screens have resolutions of 640 by 480.) Regardless, compared with other pocket organizers, this Wizard’s display is probably the best on the market.
The keyboard compares well, too. Wider than most other organizers (5.6 inches from the Q to P keys), the Wizard’s keyboard has good tactile response, with switchable audio beeps. As you’d expect, though, it’s still hard to touch-type and a challenge to find the semicolon, quotation mark, and hyphenation keys.
Copious applications. The notebook function provides simple word processing and letter-size page formatting, operated by touch selecting from on-screen menus. You use the stylus like a mouse to highlight text. Other functions include a calendar, scheduler, to-do list, anniversary/ birthday list, calculator, telephone book, alarm clock, search function, and optional slide-in card capabilities (dictionary, thesaurus, language translator, and so on).
Optional adapters let you hook the Wizard directly to your printer (Sharp claims to be compatible with 90 percent of the printers on the market) and transfer data to a computer. You can also exchange data with other Wizard products via the built-in infrared link–no cables necessary. This way, a second Wizard organizer (perhaps your old one) can serve as a backup, or you can share data with an assistant or coworker.
Sharp’s 0Z-9600 pen interface takes some of the tedium out of using a pocket organizer. If you already use one, you’ll probably like this better; and if you don’t, the electronic ink may convert you.
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