On the Today screen the right softmenu buttons is labelled ‘Shortcuts’ and when selected gives you access to nine shortcuts mapped onto the number keys. You can configure these to point to anything you want: programmes, Web favourites, files stored on the machine or tasks such as listing the running programs or setting an alarm.
Just as potentially useful is the VoiceReply application. If an email has come into the phone and you need to compose a detailed response but don’t have the time or the patience to use the number pad, you can record a response instead. It is saved as a WAV file, and automatically attached to an email reply. The encoding is such that a 30 second message produces a 60k file. Simple, but potentially extremely useful.
This is a Quad-band handset with GPRS and EDGE support. I would have liked to have seen 3G integrated, but maybe that will come in the next generation. Hewlett Packard clearly thinks many users will have this phone’s contacts and calendar updated over the air, and probably in a further cost cutting measure, has opted for USB 1.1 for its wired PC connection.
There is 64MB of SDRAM built in and 128MB of ROM. Straight out of the box my review sample reported that it had 48MB of free storage. This might not be quite what you see if you get hold of one of these phones. That ROM tweaking might consume a little more space and network operators will also consume some memory. You can add more with MicroSD cards and the slot is on the left side of the casing protected by a hinged rubber cover.
Hewlett Packard has chosen a Texas Instruments OMAP 850 processor running at 200MHz. The choice helps prolong battery life, which is an area in which this phone performed really well.
I asked it to play music without stopping from a MicroSD card and to keep the screen on all the time. I got eight and a half hours of music in total but worryingly there were no low battery warnings.
Although not aimed primarily at consumers it may well be that the price and the strong reputation of Hewlett Packard mean the iPAQ 514 Voice Messenger enjoys some success with this market. Certainly HP has shown with its first Windows Mobile Smartphone that it knows how to construct an easy to use device with some very handy features.