HP iPAQ 614c Business Navigator mobile phone review

The new HP iPAQ 614c Business Navigator promises to be your office in your pocket, but can it? We get working remotely to find out.

So what do you get in the new smartphone from HP? Well, looking at the specs on the box, a plethora of stuff.

If you're looking to stay connected you won't have any trouble here. The 614c offers 3G, HSDPA up to 7.2Mbps, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0 and quad-band GSM, GPRS, EDGE connectivity meaning it will work anywhere in the world you can get coverage.

You won't get lost either with the unit packing GPS and Assisted GPS in the handset that combined with Google Maps - you don't get any other satnav software - means you'll be able to find a local pizza wherever you are at the press of a couple of buttons.

Connectivity to the office shouldn't be a problem either as the phone runs Windows Mobile 6.0, comes with Microsoft Office Mobile, and of course email access along with SMS and MMS support.

On the multimedia front fans get a 3 megapixel camera with flash (that's what the c in 614c stands for), Windows Media Player 10, a voice recorder for recording notes and a microSD slot to store everything on when the 128MB SDRAM main memory for running applications and 256MB flash ROM runs out.

Those expecting all the above to be slowed down by a sluggish processor will be disappointed as the iPAQ 614c Business Navigator features a Marvell PXA270 Processor 520MHz and it has enough oomph to run multiple applications at once without any hassle.

Wow.

So what's the catch? In one simple word, the "Design". While we praise HP for being forward thinking enough to include all these technologies, including them has come at a price and that price is the size.

Measuring 17.5 x 60.3 x 117mm and weighing 145g this isn't the smallest smartphone around. It's bigger in every dimension than Apple's iPhone and next to your face will look decidedly mammoth.

However for its massive size it doesn't, for some reason, even have a QWERTY keyboard. Instead users are presented with a 2.8-inch, 65k colour, 240 x 320 pixel touchscreen with LED backlight complete with extending stylus and a 20-key pad without a navigation d-pad.

While a 12-key pad offers you number and text input, HP has opted to use the 8 additional keys for shortcuts; for some of them you may wonder if they really deserve their own key. Do you really need a dedicated power switch or one for "ok"?

In an attempt to combat the lack of d-pad the 614c features what HP calls a "Smart Touch Wheel". The idea is that if you glide your finger around the wheel embossed on top of the keys you can move through menus easily.

In theory it sounds great and in practice gliding through menus or scrolling down a webpage is relativity easy, it's when you come to select your choice that it's a bit awkward.

Rather than allow you to press the button in the middle of the Smart Touch Wheel (something that you automatically try and do), you have to come out of the wheel and press enter. Furthermore the Smart Touch Wheel only allows you to scroll through menus so moving to editing text on-screen has to be done by actually touching the screen. Annoying.

Verdict

The HP iPAQ 614c Business Navigator is one of those devices where you can see that the company behind it, in this case HP, has said:

"Let's get every technology we can think of and put it in a device that can fit in your pocket."

The trouble is, somewhere along the line that imaginary pocket has got bigger and bigger until the goal has been achieved but the ability to put it in your pocket has been thrown out of the window.

We might forgive it its size if the 614c had a QWERTY keyboard but it doesn't, making this a great phone for the feature set, but a lousy phone for usability and design.

One for giants with big pockets only.