Product Review: HP Smart Phone

10 Jul 2007

The iPAQ 510 Voice Messenger (pictured) is a strong signal of intent from HP in terms of what it’s planning for mobile professionals everywhere. It wants to play for keeps.

HP has been working on a product to compete with the BlackBerry for nearly three years now, and it’s finally here.

iPAQ is a Compaq technology. Prior to HP’s merger with Compaq in 2002, Irish technology CEOs could be seen with silver iPAQs, accompanied by paraphernalia to turn it into a phone or wireless internet device.

It is rewarding to see the full journey manifest itself in 2007 with a compact, neat, grey number that does all the things that those entrepreneurs wistfully predicted.

The problem with smart phones that evolve from personal digital assistant (PDA) devices is the learning curve. The nice thing about the iPAQ 510 is that there really isn’t a learning curve needed.

Switch it on and away you go. The device comes with Microsoft’s Windows for Mobile 6.0 and is designed to work seamlessly with Exchange Server in mind.

Also, the device can read out your emails so you can drive safely or choose not to have damning words seared indelibly into your eye, but instead softened by an American accent.

It comes with a large variety of connectivity methods – quad band GSM, EDGE for data as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Wi-Fi connectivity is the iceberg that will hit the titanic revenues of mobile operators if they fail to come up with clever voice and data plans. With the iPAQ you can switch on the Wi-Fi radio and instantly choose from available networks to surf or make low-cost internet calls.

The iPAQ 510 comes in a smart but slightly dated chassis and my one real regret about the device is the screen size: It’s too small and makes browsing problematic.

Another problem I encountered was synching up the device to my computer, which took a few attempts more than is convenient.

The 1.3-megapixel camera was a disappointment. For a printing and imaging giant like HP with its massive R&D resources I would have expected at least a 2-megapixel device, if not higher.

Presumably, future versions will be slimmer, curvier and will sport a higher resolution camera and a larger screen.

But as a signal of intent from HP, it’s a good start.

Pros: Highly intelligent, yet easy to use
Cons: Could benefit from a larger screen

John Kennedy