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(Pocket-lint) - HP�s latest PDA-come-Smartphone is the company�s answer to try and take on Research In Motion and its BlackBerry 8700 model, and with more features than you can count on your fingers it has got a very good chance of being crowned King. Pocket-lint was given an exclusive chance to play with the latest handheld a month before its launch.

At first glance the rather diminutive hw6900 (it measures 4.65 x 2.8 x 0.71 inches (L x W x H)) looks like any other QWERTY-based smartphone, the front is dominated by a large 3.0-inch TFT display that offers a 240 x 240 resolution and 64K colour screen and the keyboard sits underneath neatly, not taking up much room.

It�s when you look under then shell that you start to realise that the palm-sized device offers not more, but so much more than anything else out there.

For starters there is the external memory slot and 1.3 megapixel digital camera that RIM have missed out of its latest model the 8700.

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Then there is the inclusion of a GPS receiver with access to TomTom maps. Rather strangely you don�t get the whole map of the UK bundled in the box, but an allocation to buy one of your surrounding area. The choice is zoned down to major cities and it is enough to get you started, rather than offer a complete solution.

That said, more maps can be bought and downloaded with ease and regular readers will know that we rate the TomTom software highly here at Pocket-lint. The interface is simple to use and the mapping detail easy to understand.

The only other drawback to the GPS is that it isn�t based on the new SiRF Star III GPS receiver so don�t expect to get a signal indoors, but rather an integral/internal SiRF II A-GPS that means it uses the phone's GPRS signal via the SIM to help locate position faster. It's good, but not as good as the new SiRF III chipset modelled in GPS systems, but that's us just being picky. The fact that it is included and hasn't damaged the overall shape or size of the device is impressive enough.

If the inclusion of a digital camera or GPS isn�t enough to swing you, then the model also offers virtually every connection standard under the sun. Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, infrared, USB and a Mini-SD card slot just for good measure. The only one missing here is 3G and aside from that exclusion you'll be able to connect virtually anywhere in the world as long as you can get a phone or Wi-Fi signal.

The final coup d'etat is that the model features Microsoft�s latest OS � Windows Mobile 5.0, which most importantly offers a new push email service to match the BlackBerry�s efforts.

On paper this all looks very impressive and luckily for HP, in practice it's impressive too. In our testing we found the QWERTY keyboard to be flatter than the Palm Treo 650 and therefore easier to use, but not as wide as the BlackBerry 8700 and it will require nimble fingers. Still, it's certainly good enough for emails and note taking. We especially liked the creation of buttons for most used symbols, like the full stop and question mark, which made it easy to use for replying to emails.

As for the memory and processing power the unit features an Intel PXA270 Processor 416MHz and comes with 64MB SDRAM for running applications and 45MB available for user storage such as messages, pictures and the odd MP3 file.

In the box you get plenty; wired stereo headphones with 2.5mm jack, AC adapter, USB desktop sync cradle, stylus and holster.


In our dream world, the HP hw6900 would have the latest GPS chipset and the inclusion of 3G rather than just Quad-band.

But then we have to admit that is probably asking too much from a device that already gives far more than most.

The hw6900 seems to have it all; phone, wireless connection, an easy to use QWERTY keyboard, push email similar to the BlackBerry and even TomTom navigation with a built in GPS all in a package no bigger than packet of Maltesers.

This is probably the closest you will ever get to fitting your entire office into you pocket.

In fact, sorry HP, but this one is just going to have to get lost in the post when it comes to sending it back.

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 31 March 2006.