* Prices may differ from that shown
This was my first experience of a touch screen phone and has done nothing to stop me thinking that touch screen technology is too knew to be very reliable. As a phone, it is slow, unreliable and very big. The operating system is Microsoft Windows OS, I have always liked Windows OS but for this phone it didn't work.
The signal for me on the Vodafone network was quite good, but when I didn't have signal and tried to send a text, I would have to reset the phone otherwise it wouldn't send or receive text, and may text I sent people didn't get through to them, or where delayed by a few hours, even if we were texting each other constantly without moving around and having our signal drop.
The screen is very big at 4inches and the phone is very wide and heavy. The touch screen however is very accurate, but when writing a text, you will need to use the stylus because the box's for the letters are very small and it makes it quite difficult to type a message, and you constantly need to look what your typing, unlike a normal keyboard phone, which you can type a message without looking.
The phone an expansion slot for a micro SD card, which allows you to add music onto the phone, and to also use the phone as a USB stick as long as you have a SD reader or a USB cable to connect it to a computer. The Wi-Fi function on the phone is also very useful as it allows you to use the internet without having to use 3G which is generally slower and costs more.
However, for me this phone didn't work well, it was constantly restarting itself and locking so that I had to remove the battery pack to be able to start it up. Its size also makes it quite hard to carry around, but makes it easy to read the screen from a distance if you're using it as a sat-nav. The charger port also broke on me after a few months of use, so the phone now cannot be charged anymore.
Five years ago I purchased a HP ipaq 4150 pocket PC which served me very well in that space of time. The day I bought it I threw my pens & paper out the window & my life became better organised than ever.
However, the software was no longer compatible with my home computer (Vista) & I was fed up of carrying around a mobile phone & a pocket PC all the time. I wanted something that integrated them both & started looking for a Smartphone.
I have no loyalty to HP products but after four years sterling service from my old device I had no reason to doubt their new products. The specifications of their new HP ipaq614c Smartphone were just what I was looking for & I started to track down a reasonably priced one.
P.A.Y.G. or contract?
HP in the UK don't sell their products via the large phone companies, that appealed to me as I preferred to use my P.A.Y.G. SIM card from Virgin. I'm not a heavy mobile user but the main reason I wanted a Smartphone is for the PC as well as being able to use the phone when necessary. This particular model is only offered as 'unlocked' so just about any SIM card will operate on it.
I've had dealings with HP's customer services before with Aftersales issues & found that they never reply to emails or phone messages. However, this time it was a pre-sales enquiry & most companies bend over backwards to help or give advice when a sale is likely.
Not so HP, despite making a call & sending two emails I am still waiting for information 18 months on. Maybe HP feel customers are not that important to them!
The full retail price of the new phone was £395.00 (Clove Technology) but I found one from Insight UK for £308.00 with a £50.00 cash back from HP. I ended up paying £258.00, a massive £137.00 saving. I sold my old pocket PC on Ebay & got £75.00 for it which went towards the cost of the new phone.
IN THE BOX
When it arrived I was like the mouse that just got the key to the cheese larder, how can such a simple device get me all excited? In its little box it came with the following:
1 x phone (obviously!)
1 x battery
1 x USB lead for transfer to a PC & that doubles up as a charger lead
1 x Charger plug with USB socket
1 x Ear piece with mini USB plug
1 x Get you started instruction book
1 x Installation CD with full device instructions
1 x Warranty manual
However, you don't get a micro SD card, wrist strap, phone case, spare stylus or screen protector despite the latter being listed. The instructions for the phone are on the CD with only basic advice in the 'get you started' booklet. There was a coloured flap on the box highlighting main features of the phone but little else.
It's not sexiest or most stylish looking phone I have ever seen put it next to the slim & stylish Apple iphone & no one would give it a second look. It doesn't come in eye catching colours or have slide out key boards, it's just a plain looking 'candy bar' phone with a built in jog wheel on the key pad.
It isn't as bulky as it looks in photographs & only weighs a mere 145g, put it in your shirt pocket & it won't pull your shirt out of shape. It will take up very little room in a ladies evening bag.
Marvell PXA270 Processor 520MHz
128 MB SDRAM main memory for running applications, 256 MB flash ROM, Integrated WLAN 802.11b/g with WPA2 security, Bluetooth® 2.0 with EDR
Integrated Quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE phone and Tri band HSDPA 3.6/7.2 Mpbs, Integrated GPS navigation (Assisted GPS)
Windows Mobile® 6 Professional, with 2.8" Display. 1 Year Warranty
Dimensions Width 6cm, Depth 1.8cm, Height 11.7cm, Weight 145g. Supports Micro SD card. Screen 2.8" touchscreen, display resolution 240 x 320, Image 64 colour -16 bit display. Camera 3.0 mega pixel with flash.
Software includes Contacts, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Notes, Tasks, Internet explorer, Active Sync, Calculator, Clear view PDF, MP3, Google maps, HP photo smart mobile, Windows messenger, Sun JAVA, Windows live, Voice commander, various games & loads more.
OUT OF THE BOX
One annoying feature of many modern phones is removing & replacing the rear battery covers, some you have to prize off & others don't fit properly. This device has a cover that is released by a fake chrome button & the cover slides off; it goes back with a distinct click & remains secure.
Less impressive is what you see behind the cover, the SIM card goes in first followed by a micro SD card with a flimsy clasp. This is not something you want to change very often due to the flimsy nature of the clasp so I purchased a 4 GB card just for my music & back up. The battery goes in last & takes anywhere between 2-4 hours for a full charge form flat.
The charger lead is quite smart, one end is mini USB (phone end) & the other is a full size USB which plugs directly into the charger socket. The charger socket comes with a UK three pin plug & an interchangeable USA two pin plug. That same lead doubles up as a transfer lead to your PC.
SWITCH ON & CONNECT UP
Within seconds of switching the device on it recognised my Virgin card & I was ready to make my first call. You can make a call three different ways, either press the numbers on the key pad as per normal phones or bring up a finger friendly key pad on the touch screen or open contacts & scroll through to find your number & press enter. Call quality is excellent & all calls, missed calls, texts etc are recorded on the screen for reference.
Bluetooth is great for transferring my details & lists form my old pocket PC to my new one, this was a painless task & saved me a lot of time & hassle. The Bluetooth connects to my built in microphone/speaker in the car, ear piece or lap top without any problems.
Wi-Fi is quick & fast for connecting to the internet, my old pocket PC used to take ages. I could have obtained a 14 day visitor visa for North Korea quicker than connecting it up. However the whole process took about 25 seconds on the new phone & works extremely well. Looking at the Internet via a screen smaller than a credit card can be a pain unless you use phone friendly webs sites.
There is no conventional head phone socket so Bluetooth headphones are best, I use Sony neck phones as the sound quality for a £30.00 set is fantastic.
HP has installed Windows Mobile 6 professional which means you can use a stylus & touch screen if desired. I often transfer my Excel work documents & updating them with a stylus is essential for me. The stylus is a little awkwardly placed at the rear left hand bottom of the device, neither handy for right nor left handed people. However, it's telescopic & feels good in your hands, when you reinsert back in the phone it closes up to a smaller size, all very clever.
However, six months use & the little retaining tag inside the phone cover broke leaving the stylus free to fall out. HP were interested in a warranty claims so I obtained a spare cover from an American website for $15.00.
If you are familiar with Windows you will be at home with the mobile version. Both Excel & Word are more condensed versions than you'll find on your desktop PC, you even get 'spell check' & you do get a nifty predictive text which works so much better than most other versions I have experienced on mobile phones.
Either HP or Microsoft have been a little stingy in the software they now supply, you no longer get the finance software they used to supply in days gone by & the calculator is more basic than previous versions but there is plenty of space to add on software at a later date & many are available for free. HP did give me 'spd wallet' for free from their website which is good for keeping your bank & credit card details encrypted on your device.
On the supplied CD is software to install on your PC to sync with your device, I've had a few problems getting it to work properly but I think I am the problem, not the software. Back up is simple on to a PC from the device, just plug in the device, go to My Computer (XP) or Computer (Vista), copy & paste onto a separate file on the PC. You can also back up onto the micro SD card which is advised.
The screen is wonderful; it has a bright & intense display despite being only on 75% power to conserve battery life. It can easily be read in sunlight even with a screen protector on it. The display can be altered form portrait to landscape with the touch of a button, handy for internet displays.
The camera is on the rear of the device & features 3.0 mega pixels, it's no substitute for a proper camera but it does capture a half decent image & is quite good with videos. It comes with a flash, on screen controls & a self portrait mirror. Operation is simple, press the camera button on the edge of the device to put it into camera mode & then press again to focus & shoot. However it is useless outside where you cannot see the image on the screen.
The front mounted jog wheel is at first a little difficult to get used to, it feels too sensitive but once you get used to it, it works rather well & is handy for one handed operation. You can switch it off altogether & just use the side mounted one which does the same job. My only gripe with this feature is when you are entering text via the stylus & on the screen QWERTY key board the side of your hands touches the jog wheel & knocks everything around the screen. It is great when using the built in MP3 player.
Hand writing recognition also features on the device which is great for taken notes. It doesn't take long for the device to recognise your handwriting & is very accurate when it prints out your words.
A voice recorder is also featured & is operated from a switch on the outside of the phone, however it is constantly being switched on when you don't need it but can be switched off permanently if required.
There are two rather small buttons below the screen to assist one handed operation; one offers a clever 'short cut' operation for 10 different tasks & the other goes into 'message' mode for texts or email. The buttons are far too small if you have man sized chunky fingers or long feminine manicured finger nails. If you are man with chunky long manicured nails you'll have the same problem!!
Battery life is not too bad, I charge up every two days with moderate use but Wi-Fi & Bluetooth will soon shorten battery life as will the brightest settings for the screen.
You wouldn't buy this phone for its looks but then that wasn't an issue for me, it's the features that were more important & the quality of these features has exceeded my expectations.
Aside form a few gripes about the micro SD card clasp, location of the stylus & HP's dreadful customer services; I love this device which will hopefully be my digital friend for the next few years. It's highly recommended but shop around for a good deal.
Those of you who have read my previous iPAQ Classic review will know I decided they were pointless, got annoyed and wanted a blackberry. But now I'm back doing a bit of work again (following babies), I need something to keep in touch with the business world on the go, and my company must have an HP contract, cos they won't give me a blackberry. Sob. Actually wanted an iphone too, but still...
So they gave me one of these babies. The iPAQ 614c And guess what? HP iPAQ have made it into the 21st century! This is great!
Throw away your iphones (well, OK, sell them on ebay then). I'm in lurrrve.
So what's so cool?
Well finally iPAQ have woken up to the fact that you want a phone in your PDA. And there is one. It's 3G - boo expensive - but never mind. Even better, it has GPS navigation so I don't get lost going to a meeting any more. Have sat nav in the car built in, so I can get to any venue with an attached car park but anything city centre where you have to find a parking space then walk to the venue and I'm toast. No sense of direction. Can't do it. My PA used to print off directions from web sites with maps for me (though she did once send me into the centre of Birmingham without so much as an address!) But this has a sat nav thing built in so you can walk where you want to go and know where you are going. The basic thing uses google maps. If you buy the add-on HP GPS Navigation Kit you can turn your iPAQ into a Tom Tom type thingy which gives turn-by-turn navigation. Brilliant. And of course it all the personal organiser functions that iPAQ always did do well.
Apparently it has Quad-band wireless technology. Sorry but I don't exactly know what that means, but it does mean you can connect to the internet in wifi areas. You can IM and e-mail like with a Blackberry. It has a high-speed HSDPA data network.
All the stuff that was there before in old iPAQs is still there, like Mobile Office Outlook to give you the essential Calendar plus Contacts, Email, and Tasks. It's almost as good as a phone with its integrated 3 Mega pixel camera (4x digital zoom), and it comes with Windows Mobile Media Player, so in theory you can watch videos and read ebooks. Haven't tried that yet, but as soon as I am in a meeting boring enough, I'll let you know! It has speakers but it's a bit tinny - OK to get basic video soundtrack I imagine, not really up to Wagner's Ring Cycle though! But though I don't have one (yet. Working on IT dept as we speak LOL) you can get an optional Bluetooth stereo headset which would improve that. So without that it would have to be a really really large boring meeting to get away with watching videos in the middle with the wired earphones they give you - a bit obvious!
It's got a new gimmick - the Smart Touch Wheel/Thumb Scroll Wheel, as well as the touch screen display my old iPAQ had. This wheel is a bit weird to get used , but I've had it about three weeks now, and I'm getting the hang of it. It is neat - you can scroll in and out of maps for example but because it's not like anything I've ever used before I keep getting it wrong so it ends up taking longer! You can switch between portrait and landscape display modes. Move over iphone!
Allegedly it has 4 hours talk time, but I've never tested it to those limits. The stand by time is pretty good though, certainly several days.
You can record audio (useful if you are mystery shopper tee hee) and it plays MP3s, of course. It's a neat size: manufacturers dimensions are:
It has a 2.8in LCD which is fine for what you need.
It comes with the following Software:
Adobe Acrobat Reader
HP Help and Support
HP Photosmart Mobile
HP Setup Assistant
Microsoft Internet Explorer Mobile
Microsoft Office Mobile
Microsoft Office Outlook Mobile
Windows Media Player Mobile
The Clock Speed is 520 MHz and it has 128 MB of RAM, 256 MB ROM.
Ooh a word of warning - don't throw your iphone out if you have a Mac - this is only compatible with PCs. Otherwise... Well this is less sexy that an iphone (but isn't everything Apple make just soooo gorgeous?). But in terms of a useful tool, I swallow all my words about HP. They've just sorted out the problems of all their previous iPAQs and they are forgiven!
They retail about £300.
Review also available on Ciao.