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HP iPAQ Voice Messenger
Mobile Phones | First Looks
Thu 05 Feb 2009

Optical Illusions

By Luke Tan & Seow Tein Hee

HP has been a longstanding player when it comes to Windows Mobile devices. But with the competition posed by new entrants to the smartphone market and an economic downturn, the tech giant is definitely feeling the heat. Will the new year and a new device such as the iPAQ Voice Messenger give HP the much needed breathing space? Here's our take.


The build quality of the iPAQ Voice Messenger has improved greatly over its predecessor with a metallic, lacquered shade of navy blue forming the front. Unfortunately, it suffers from the fingerprint magnet symptom with a mirrored, albeit lovely back. The only niggle we had? The slightly uneven paint on the edges of the keyboard which caused some light leakage that marred the svelte appearance of the device.

Half Flick

As with the Sony Ericsson K850i, some will find the use of touch softkeys psychologically confusing. Those migrating from touchscreen Windows Mobile phones will probably end up touching the screen inadvertently. The use of an optical joystick for navigation sounds cool on paper. But it makes for many issues once you start delving deeper into the key functions. Web surfing, in particular, was a tedious experience; whereas on conventional phones you could hold down a hardware button to keep the Web page scrolling in a particular direction, the iPAQ Voice Messenger needs repeated flicks of your thumb to keep going.

The half-QWERTY keyboard that comes with the phone has good tactile feel, but the keys are spaced too close for comfort and it was difficult to avoid pressing adjoining keys occasionally (unless you have small fingers). The Adaptxt software was also hard pressed to keep up with SMS speed demons like ourselves. Entering words that aren't in the dictionary without adding them is more of a hassle than it is with conventional phones, as the text entry system doesn't allow "word locking".

Whilst the Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard edition was a marked improvement over its earlier iteration, the experience can vary according to the hardware. In short, the optical joystick doesn't make things easier for an interface that depends heavily on the five-way navigation. Sliding through the various screens and items within the main interface takes too long. Love it or hate it, the sliding screen in Windows Mobile Standard is here to stay on the Voice Messenger. Given for a fact that most other Windows Mobile manufacturers have gone the extra mile with customized user interfaces, HP hasn't caught on to the trend yet.

Battery life was average with its 1260mAh battery. An hour of web browsing on Wi-Fi, 30 minutes of calls and 30 minutes of SMS in a day turned in slightly over a day's worth of battery life.

Voicing out

Overall, the iPAQ Voice Messenger is excellent, with great basics and a sleek form factor, but the experience is marred by the optical joystick and touch buttons. Sticking to tried-and-tested hardware controls would easily put this in the ranks of the smartphone greats.

Product Specifications

  • Network: GSM 850/900/1800/1900; UMTS 900/1900/2100
  • Operating system: Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard
  • Processor: Qualcomm 7201A 528MHz
  • Display: 240 x 320 pixels, 2.4-inch TFT QVGA, 64K colors
  • Camera: 3.2-megapixel with autofocus and LED flash
  • Memory: 128MB RAM, 256MB ROM, microSD expandability
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, HSDPA, GPS with A-GPS, Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP, USB 2.0 (microUSB), 2.5mm audio jack
  • Battery: 1260mAh 
  • Dimensions: 114.0 x 50.0 x 13.6mm
  • Weight: 107g
  • Price: S$599