By July 29, 2007

HP iPAQ 514 review

For months I have been complaining to Matt about the size of my T-Mobile MDA Vario (HTC Wizard) – It’s been a good phone over the past year but now looks like a brick compared to all the latest phones available (As well as the multiple lines over the screen and various other faults from time to time). I also wanted to try Windows Mobile 6 to see just what improvements our friends at Microsoft had made. When he said he was going to send me the new HP iPAQ 514 Voice Messenger I shuddered – The word iPAQ just reminded me of countless hours with rather oversized and cumbersome PDA’s and the wish to go back to a diary!

Well, the day finally came when this rather small box arrived on my desk. I did think it was the wrong parcel for a moment as even the box appeared to be smaller than my MDA Vario! But, on opening, true to Matt and Tracy’s word was a HP iPAQ 514.

HP iPAQ 514

HP iPAQ 514

I feel I must set this review in a little context as well though; I am a techie (sorry!) and generally work from home or customer sites. I live by my phone, e-mail and laptop so this review will be more focused around a business environment (To be honest, HP in my opinion have firmly and squarely aimed this phone at the business market so that should suit).

Opening the box see’s plenty of HP’s current “The computer is personal again” logos and branding, various getting started guides, maintenance guides and a start-up CD. So, I did what everyone else I know would do – Chucked them to one side and grabbed the phone. First stop was adding a little juice into the phone battery. HP actually ship a really neat power adapter with this phone, complete with interchangeable US and European Plugs. Running at 1amp it should also work as a charger for most other USB devices. (See also Matt’s unboxing video.)

Removing the back of the phone is designed for someone with fingernails, but perseverance led through and the back was removed. Removing the battery (Lithium Ion 1100ma) reveals the standard SIM socket. I dropped in my T-Mobile SIM, replaced the battery and cover and hit the “on” button. Once the phone had started I was offered either T-Mobile or Virgin Mobile presets for network selections. After selecting T-Mobile and within seconds I was up an running with SMS, Phone and Mobile 6.

I have to say I was impressed with the look and feel of the iPAQ 514 from the outset – 107mm Tall, 48mm Wide and 16mm Thick and only weighing 102g is keeping the same size and ‘candy-bar’ shape of today’s smartphone generation (and giving the Blackberry Pearl a good run)

Looking around the phone displays the usual array of connectors – On the left hand side is the volume up/down buttons, a protected slot for a MicroSD card and the headphone socket (Please Note – HP in their wisdom have added a 2.5mm Headphone jack so you will need to get an adapter to use normal headphones but at least it better than an extUSB socket!). As this socket is on the side of the phone it may well cause problems for users or get knocked easily.

HP iPAQ 514 Left

HP iPAQ 514 Left
HP iPAQ 514 Right

HP iPAQ 514 Right

The bottom of the phone has a standard USB adapter for charging and synchronisation (This is only USB 1.1 – maybe a cost saving move?) and a small slot in the case for a hand strap.

HP iPAQ 514 bottom

HP iPAQ 514 bottom

The left hand side provides the button for “Voice Commander” HP’s in built Voice Control – More on this later…

The keypad layout is quite similar across many phones at the moment. The four way d-pad top centre provides most functions and the well-sized centre button gives easy use and stops miss pressing other keys. Standard select keys above the Call and Hang-up buttons provide the remaining controls. In use these are reasonable although the keys are very smooth and shiny limiting the feel a bit. They do require a good press for sure and may limit your texting speed!

HP iPAQ 514 Keypad

HP iPAQ 514 Keypad

Once I’d played a while I thought I had better set the phone to some use. Downloading and installing the SSL Cert for our mail server was simple and straight forward and configuring Outlook Mobile was a dream – Dropping in the server address, name and password had my e-mails heading down to the phone within seconds. (I don’t know why we don’t get the date/time on the display as standard but this was soon changed within the display settings)

The standard T9 implementation works well and I have to admit moving from the Vario keyboard and back to T9 took a little bit of practice but I was soon back up to speed and to be honest I’m sure text entry is faster on T9 (Well for me certainly) and means I can use the phone one-handed.

Office Mobile is included as standard with the normal Excel, Powerpoint and Word (No PDF Reader though for some strange reason). These are usable on the screen but, as with most phones get ready to use those scroll buttons…. The screen is actually pretty good although small (176×220 pixels); surprisingly clear and sharp with a good deal of brightness. The display is a 2” transflective (A type of LCD screen in which the pixels are illuminated from both the front of the monitor’s screen and from behind the screen) – These are meant to be good in all lighting conditions but I was a little disappointed in bright sunlight – The screen was quite difficult to see in these conditions.

iPAQ 514 vs M700

iPAQ 514 vs M700

The iPAQ 514 is pretty quick in operation too with a TI OMAP 850 Processor running at 200Mhz, 64MB SDRAM for applications and data and a 128MB flash ROM. On a clean phone you are left with only 48MB of available space so that MicroSD card will come in useful.

Specification-wise sees a whole raft of standards included, the phone itself has integrated quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE – No 3G Support included, perhaps this may come with future releases. We do however have really good wireless capabilities with Integrated WLAN 802.11b/g and Bluetooth® 1.2.

The wireless connection connects well and offers a reasonable signal range (about 2/3rds the distance of my laptop) and of course offers internet based calling options as standard.

I did try the multimedia elements of the phone and they are just about ok. Let’s remember this is more of a business phone built to a price so for music I will certainly be sticking to the iPod – The first thing you will want to do is get and adapter and use your own headphones as the supplied ones do leave a little to the imagination. HP Have included a 1.3M pixel camera with the phone which is probably one of the best I’ve seen on a device in this class. I’m sure many people will look at this and laugh at “only 1.3M Pixels” but let’s be honest – If you want to take good pictures don’t you buy a decent camera? For simple shots, moments in the pub or recording the aftermath of the latest floods outside your door for Sky it’s perfectly good enough. For anything else, buy an DSLR!

HP iPAQ 514 camera

HP iPAQ 514 camera

There are some very good aspects to the phone though, the battery life is excellent – The quoted 188 Hours of standby and 6 Hours 30 Minutes of talk time can actually be exceeded. My Vario needed charging up each day (and usually a top up during the day) especially if I sent a lot of SMS. The HP on the other hand would still be some 70% charged at the end of a normal working day. The lower processor power and small screen will certainly be helping here.

I mentioned earlier the “Voice Commander” system on the iPAQ 514. With a little practice this could be a useful feature (If you can’t access your phone if you are driving for example.) the Voice Commander allows you to “talk” to your phone and control it. At first I found this quite tedious and certainly rather Americanised in recognition as well as the Voice…

In essence, pressing the voice commander button allows you to Call People, Have your e-mails and Text Messages read to you and even record Voice annotated replies to messages received. Well, It took me around 20 tries to get it to call someone but with a little practice this gets better. Road noise does have an impact and you could end up calling the wrong person so be wary before you say “Hi Honey….”. The e-mail read feature is good, but HP really need to offer an alternative voice option. This sounds like a female Stephen Hawking on the Simpsons… I was going to e-mail my self “The Nature of Space and Time” but that would have been really sad…

So – What has the phone been like in use? I’ll skip the Windows Mobile 6 side of things as this has been well covered by Matt in the past and the HP Version is just the same as everyone else’s. The phone is very easy to use, once set up everything functions “as it should” there are no great surprises and the Voice Commander may get used by some people. But for some reason – I really like this phone, It has everything I need (and I would expect the same for most people in business) it’s fast to operate, the clear although small screen displays my E-Mails, SMS Messages and Appointments. I’m glad I’m back to T9 typing for sure and would rather carry around a much smaller lighter phone with the exceptional battery life the HP has.

HP iPAQ 514

HP iPAQ 514

In fact – (Remington springs to mind) – I liked it so much I bought myself one and I am now using my iPAQ 514 full time as my mobile device. I’m sure other manufactures will follow suit and start building simple, straightforward easy to use phones that are affordable to users. The only downside? Why call it an iPAQ ?!!!!

HP iPAQ 514 Specification:

  • Windows Mobile 6 Standard
  • 201 MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 850 CPU
  • 64Mb RAM / 128Mb ROM
  • 2″ 176 x 220 color transflective TFT
  • GSM850, GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900
  • Built-in numeric phone keypad, 12 keys
  • SDIO, microSD memory slot
  • Bluetooth 1.2
  • USB 1.1 client
  • WiFi: 802.11b, 802.11g
  • 1.3 megapixel camera
  • 1100 mAh battery
  • 48.6 x 107 x 16.3 mm
  • 102 grams
  • What’s even better is that Clove Technology have just dropped the price of the iPAQ 514 to just £149 (£175.08 inc VAT)!

    Review by: John

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    Posted in: Reviews

    About the Author:

    More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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