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14 May 2009

Messenger in your pocket

Sleek and ­sturdy, the HP iPAQ Voice Messenger is a ­smartphone for the budget conscious.

THE first thing that I noticed about the HP iPAQ Voice Messenger is the Qwerty keypad. I generally do not like phones or smartphones that don’t come with a regular keypad with T9 input.

This is because I find it very difficult to type messages using a Qwerty keypad. And the Voice Messenger’s keypad which has 20 keys (with two letters per button) only drives this point further.

Typing messages is a tedious affair on the Voice Messenger. It took a lot longer to type messages compared with my mobile phone which has T9 input. Plus, it wasn’t easy to locate the right keys as they are really small.

There is also a five-way navigation button and to scroll through the menu you just have to glide you thumb over it.

This can be very frustrating especially when it’s too easy to skip past the entries that you want to choose.

Also, at times the menu system is not responsive and it takes a while before it registers your command.

Built to last

Despite the hiccups, the Voice Messenger is a sturdy, sleek and, not to mention, a slim phone.

Weighing only 105g and 13.6mm thick, the Voice Messenger can easily slip into a lady’s dinner bag.

The Voice Messenger has a black exterior front and the back is made of aluminium. The problem with any aluminium casing is that it tends to attract fingerprints. Unless you are diligent in cleaning the phone, it stops looking attractive after awhile.

The first thing I liked, upon switching on the Voice Messenger, is the bright display.

The smartphone has a 2.4in display with 240 x 320 pixels which is the standard resolution for most mobile phone.

When I was in a theatre, I had to switch on the smartphone to send an urgent text message to a friend.

Although the smartphone was in silent mode, the bright screen had distracted one of the audience members and I was told to switch it off. Yes, it’s that bright.

The Voice Messenger has two dedicated buttons, namely Key Guard and Ringer/Sound switch.

Key Guard allows you to lock the smartphone while the Ringer/Sound switch button turns on the silent mode.

These handy buttons allow you to lock the phone and put it in silent mode without having to fiddle with the keypad.

The Voice Messenger’s 3.1-megapixel camera (with 5x digital zoom) shoots decent pictures but it’s nothing to call home about.

Handy apps

The Voice Messenger is powered by Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 and is bundled with Office Mobile which includes applications such as Excel Mobile, OneNote Mobile, PowerPoint Mobile and Word Mobile.

While you can edit and view documents with these applications, you cannot create them.

The phone also has Google Maps and coupled with the built-in GPS, it is very useful when you need a street view and directions to your destination.

Besides these programs, you will find the other standard programs such as Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, games and more.

The Voice Messenger has 128MB of RAM memory as well as a microSD slot which supports up to 8GB memory cards.

But you have to remove the back casing of the phone to insert the card, which is a bit of a hassle.

Conclusion

The sleek and sturdy HP iPAQ Voice Messenger is let down by its rather crammed Qwerty keypad but there are other things going for it.

It has all the important features such as WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth which you look for in a smartphone. The affordable phone also has a decent camera, a bright screen and handy dedicated buttons.

Overall, the Voice Messenger is a decent smartphone if you can live with the keypad.

Pros: Slim and sleek; handy dedicated buttons; bright screen.

Cons: Qwerty keypad and navigation button are not user friendly; the phone can be unresponsive at times.

iPAQ Voice Messenger

(Hewlett-Packard)

3G smartphone

Operating system: Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard edition

Processor: 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7201A ARM11

Memory: 256MB ROM/128MB RAM

Display: 2.4in QVGA (240 x 320 pixels) screen

Camera: 3.1-megapixel with autofocus and 5x digital zoom

Supported networks: Quadband GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz), GPRS, EDGE, Triband UMTS (900/1900/2100MHz), HSDPA, HSUPA (high-speed uplink packet access)

Connectivity: Bluetooth 2.0, WiFi (802.11b/g), micro USB connector

Battery: 1,260mAh lithium polymer

Other features: GPS, microSD card slot, Qwerty keypad

Dimensions: 50 x 13.6 x 114mm (w x d x l)

Weight: 105g

Price: RM1,388

Website: www.hp.com.my

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