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HP iPAQ 914c Business Messenger review

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Our Score:

7

RIM's BlackBerry handsets used to be in a class of their own. Anyone after a phone offering instant, push email coupled with business-level PIM integration only had one place to go. But nowadays rivals are ten a penny, and every smartphone manufacturer worth its salt has a BlackBerry-style handset in its line-up. Some - Nokia's E71 - have even managed to beat RIM at its own game.

With its heritage in the PDA arena, you'd think that HP would well be placed to give RIM and Nokia a run for their money. But though its PDAs have long been the best in the business - I reviewed its business PDA, the iPAQ 214, back in February and was very impressed - I've yet to see HP evolve its PDAs into successful smartphones. The 614c Business Navigator, for instance, was a real mish-mash - part business PDA, part GPS device, part smartphone - and a big disappointment as a result.

Fortunately, the 914c (or 910 for those in the US) is a more straightforward device: a dyed-in-the-wool candybar QWERTY phone, and it's a far better product for it. But can it compete with the best business emailer on the market, the E71?

First impressions would suggest not - it's hardly the sexiest of devices and is a rather bulky and heavy device. The front is trimmed with shiny chrome, the rows of keys separated by strips of silver, and the rear panel finished in comfortable-feeling soft-touch plastic, It weighs 154g and is 16mm thick - a world away from the sleek lines of Nokia's superb E71, which tips the scales at a mere 127g and measures just 10mm thick.

So what does the extra bulk and weight get you? Well, the keyboard is good. Those silver strips clearly define the position of the keys vertically, while a rounded, horizontal profile to each button means that you won't keep hitting neighbouring keys when typing and editing. There are dedicated keys for the full stop and comma, and the navigation cluster above the keyboard is large and easy to use. There are no fancy touch-sensitive or trackball controls here, but the five-way up/down/left/right/select works well and it's complemented by a BlackBerry-style scroll wheel on the right hand edge. But is this any easier to use than the keyboard on the E71? It's good, sure, but the answer has to be no.

The screen then, surely, is better? Well, yes, it is bigger and, unlike the screen on the Nokia E71, it is touch-sensitive. But the size difference is only, surprisingly, fractional (2.46in versus 2.36in) and at this size the touch-sensitivity doesn't help that much - you'll only use it when you absolutely have to and only then with a stylus. This is not a finger-friendly touch-sensitive device like the iPhone or HTC Touch Diamond. The E71's screen is also transflective, which makes it easier to see in bright sunshine, though turn the brightness up on the 914c's LED backlit transmissive screen, and you won't have to squint too hard to read it.

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Garfee

August 20, 2008, 5:20 am

What a reassuring review for someone who recently purchased an E71 (and very happy with it too).





I guess this phone fills whatever market there is that MUST use windows mobile. Perhaps if they ruggedised the phone, with that battery and the OS could be quite helpful out in the field.





I must note, that very little was said about the OS. Has it not been customised at all by HP?

TheLostSwede

August 20, 2008, 9:27 am

It would be nice if the reviewer could be arsed to include things like CPU and memory specifications, as well as any memory expansion options, as these things are quite important when it comes to Windows Mobile devices unlike most other phones.

Jay Werfalli

August 20, 2008, 7:18 pm

Thanks Lars ;) - sorted!

Oliver Levett

August 21, 2008, 7:27 pm

I have to disagree with one of your points...





The WM Exchange client is (once you know where M$ put things!) very configurable. Peak times can be set for any day(s) of the week and any time block (although, the time is the same for each day).

purephase

August 25, 2008, 1:48 am

I think handsets like this really hit home just how good the E71 is. Better in every respect (unless as Garf pointed out you absolutely must have Windows Mobile).





Was having a play with a blackberry bold today - it's a nice handset, but it's huge in comparison to the N71, and has no more features.

nick4511

September 18, 2008, 1:51 pm

Hi I bought my HP IPAQ914C Last week & so far i am pretty happy with its performance . being a long time windows mobile user i have had/owned my fair share of WM Phones ...i must say despite having a slow 416MHZ Processor the HP IPAQ feels and runs faster than the Touch Diamond . The Key board is fast and intuitive and the battery has a lot of juice for all day mobile computing ..only thing i wish is if this phone had a better resolution screen...

Jim Simpson

October 10, 2008, 7:09 pm

I've had it for a month now and I'm very pleased. It replaces an MDA Compact III whose biggest problem was a very slow processor. The 914c is much faster: I'm using it with a T-Mobile SIM and have CoPilot 7 GPS. I like WM 6.1! Email/Internet are easy to use (keyboard is tough for "fat fingers" at first, but OK now).Battery life is good, even with GPS/camera. The camera is good, though I haven't been able to set a "click" for the shutter yet. I intended to get a Touch Pro but on the whole, at about 𧵎 less, this is better value. Definitely a satisfied customer.

levinas

December 23, 2009, 2:41 pm

I use it businesswise +/- 6 months. It's a company's mobile. IMHO this smartphone is really a joke. The major problems are powerconsumption and battery lifetime, freez of application and not user friendly network management. The battery of this phone cannot handle a day with a wifi on. Not to mention the use of other application. Don't even try installing them on your unit (like naviagation software, backup software, skype, other) because this phone is going to die on you almost the minute you do... if you tend to use built-in features like GPS or WIFI or Bluetooth, be sure to switch it off immediatly after you've used them. As IT specialist in our company, I give support to my collegues using those and main issues are the ones I've mentioned above.





As to the desing, it looks nice, but is really big and takes a lot of space in your pockets. The keyboard is a nice feature though and the fact that you can use high density SD cards is also a plus (you can't use those cards with IPAQ 614).





Owning this phone is like being in prison: you have to think to recharge it almost every day! think not to forget the charger... and above all... not to forget your phone with you, cause it so huge you don't want to "wear it" on you all the time.





And one more fault in design: the phone is being charged by the same entry your headset is using to produce audio... so no mp3 or handsfree calling when charging. Given the quality of the battery, and the fact that the phone has to charge almost all the time, it means no music and handsfree calling at all





So as far as I am concerned this phone is big big big rubish.





So be aware.

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