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Hewlett Packard has a very longstanding relationship with Microsoft where its Windows Mobile software is concerned. The company was in at the start when Windows Mobile was first announced back in 2000.
When Hewlett Packard and arch-rival Compaq merged, HP took on Compaq's iPAQ name, abandoning its own Jornada naming. As time went on HP integrated SIM support into its devices, but the company always stuck with the Pocket PC format with its large touch sensitive screen. At last Hewlett Packard has decided it is time to launch a smartphone and the result is the Hewlett Packard iPAQ 514 Voice Messenger.
I was just about the first journalist in the UK to get my hands on one of these to test and as I write this review I've had it for less than a week. There are still one or two tweaks to be done to the ROM before this smartphone goes on sale; it isn't even up at Hewlett Packard's website yet and no operators have announced that they are taking it on. However, that doesn't mean to say operators won't announce it, and Hewlett Packard tells me that it will be available SIM free in May for less than £200.
I have been very clearly briefed by Hewlett Packard that the iPAQ 514 Voice Messenger is a smartphone primarily for business users, and not a phone aimed at those who like to have the very latest features at their fingertips. Yes it runs Windows Mobile 6, which makes it something of a rarity at the moment and in this respect it is ‘state of the art’. But there are features which some consumers will turn their nose up at.
The most notable of these is probably the camera whose 1.3 megapixel capability is definitely way below what the average consumer would expect. Hewlett-Packard insists it is perfectly adequate for its main market of business users, and the choice is probably one of the factors that helps keep the device costs down.
Another of these factors is the display. It measures just two diagonal inches and displays just 176 x 220 pixels. If you're accustomed to a phone with a larger screen it does take a bit of getting used to but for those who haven't had the big-screen experience it will probably be perfectly fine.