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REVIEW: HP Veer webOS 2.1 Smartphone [with Video]
Posted by Arne Hess - on Tuesday, 07.06.11 - 19:30:01 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 17901x
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Unlike the previous Palm and HP Pre and Pixi device updates, HP's new HP Veer is a brand new and totally different webOS smartphone from HP's former Palm division. Running webOS 2.1, the HP Veer is a kind of different smartphone to all the other smartphones available today. Powered by a Qualcomm MSM7230 Snapdragon CPU at 800 MHz, the Veer supports quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE as well as triband UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA at 900/1900/2100 MHz, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, aGPS as well as the smartphone typical proximity sensor, light sensor and accelerometer.

The Veer is one of the smaller, if not the smallest, smartphones to date and the multitouch capacitive glass touchscreen measures 2.57" only, providing a rather unusual display resolution of 320 x 400 pixel. The fixfocus camera supports 5 megapixel and allows to snap photos and recording videos but comes without a supporting LED flash.

As all of today's webOS smartphones and like the Palm Pre-line of devices, the Veer features a 4-rows QWERTY/QWERTZ (country dependent) semi-automatic slice-out keyboard while the device itself measures 54.5 x 84.0 x 15.1 mm at a weight of 103 grams only - including the non-removable 910 mAh Li-Ion battery. At this size of a device, the keyboard has to be pretty narrowed but it's still large enough to thumb-type text messages or short E-Mails, not to talk about Twitter or Facebook updates for what the keyboard is good enough anyway.

Unlike the Palm Pre and Pre Plus but like the Palm Pixi, the Veer is made out of high-quality soft-touch plastic and like the HP Pre 2, it's featuring a scratch resistant glass touchscreen. This gives the Veer a premium touch. Quite uncommon is the way the HP engineers solved the size problem for the USB and 3.5 mm stereo headset ports. Sine the Veer is so small, both ports haven't found space inside the device and therefore HP has introduced a magnetic attachable micro USB charger and 3.5 mm stereo headset jack adapter (similar to Apple's MagSafe power adapter). While this is a smart workaround, I fear it's something you will lose first - unfortunately.

However, the Veer can also be charged with HP's Touchstone since the non-removable battery cover is Touchstone ready. Beside charging the device, Touchstone automatically turns on the speakerphone if you are on a call as well as it displays the time in the nightstand mode. However, thanks to webOS 2.1, the Veer is also supporting webOS' new Exhibition mode which shows photos or the agenda which makes it the perfect companion for the office desk.

Running HP's latest webOS 2.1 version means that the Veer supports all the known features like Microsoft Exchange E-Mail with Microsoft Direct Push technology as well as POP3 and IMAP4, Gmail, etc. It furthermore features an updated App Catalog, HP's app market for webOS applications as well as Palm's Mobile HotSpot application for tethering is supported on the Veer. The full featured web browser supports Adobe Flash out of the box and since the Veer is running webOS 2.1, for sure it comes with all the latest and greatest webOS enhancements, HP has announced back in February.

For instance has HP enhanced its ActiveCard multitasking by grouping related cards in stacks. This is reducing all the homescreen clutter and making it even easier to move quickly between tasks. Being smart, webOS 2.1 even automatically stacks cards where it thinks it makes sense but users can also drag and drop cards to manage stacks themselves.

Also new is HP's Just Type functionality which let users "just type" to search or interact within apps. The previously used Universal Search has always been the fastest way to find stuff in webOS, whether it was on the device or online but in webOS 2.1, Universal Search has gotten even better and since it's not just for searching anymore it was renamed to Just Type.

Just Type now also features  a functionality called Quick Actions. It allows to start an E-Mail, create a text message, update status messages, search websites - all without having to launch an app.

While the HP Veer and webOS 2.1 is a full blown smartphone solution, in some parts HP kept it more simple for the user. The camera for instance allows to snap photos or record videos, but it comes without any further settings the end user can change. it's more a kind of point and shot camera.

Not yet supported is HP's new and innovative Touch to Share technology but the Veer is Touch to Share ready and HP has promised to deliver the required software update later. Touch-to-Share allows users to share and exchange data between HP's upcoming Touchpad tablet device and other Touch to Share enabled webOS devices, like the HP Palm3 or HP Veer.

Final Conclusion

The HP Veer is a different kind of smartphone, not because it's running webOS but because of its size and specs! While other smartphone platforms have a race of being the biggest and the fastest, HP went the opposite way by creating the smallest smartphone to date. Sure, a 800 MHz CPU isn't a 1.2 GHz dual core CPU but its questionable which end user really needs dual core GHz monster? HP 800 MHz Veer is even able to support multitasking as well as the browser supports Flash - what else can a customer ask for?
Overall I really liked the size of the Veer, it's a perfect companion to be used while out of the office and thanks to the slide-out keyboard, which works well even if it is pretty narrowed, E-Mails, text messages or Facebook and Twitter updates can be easily typed! While the screen size is somewhat uncommon and also very tiny for today's smartphones, webOS works well on it.
Also I really like the idea of the magnetic charger and the headset adapter but I seriously fear that the headset adapter is the first part which gets lost soon. Therefore it's recommended to use a Bluetooth headset anyway.

In terms of the operating system and the software, there's little to criticize. In my humble opinion, webOS is still one of the best, most flexible and user friendly mobile operating systems available today! Unfortunately, it's only used by one manufacturer but since HP has overtaken Palm, you can see some real progress in the development and it shouldn't take too long anymore to see other webOS enabled devices like HP printer, etc. HP has even announced to bring webOS to its PCs and Laptops where it is expected to run as a kind of fast-boot operating system, next to Windows.

So for whom is the HP Veer the right device? Definitely not for the über-geek, looking for the latest and greatest technology and performance. But it could be the perfect choice for casual mobile phone users which want to do more with their phones. Doesn't matter if it is HP's great Facebook application or other third party apps, there's a wide range of applications available for nearly every task and only a few special interest apps are missed. But for users which are looking for something powerful but still easy to carry, for something powerful but still easy to use, the HP Veer might be the perfect choice.

The HP Veer is now available in the U.S from AT&T as the HP Veer 4G. In Europe, so far only O2 Germany has announced an upcoming launch for end of June. According to HP, the suggested retail price will be 379 Euro and will include the HP Touchstone. Other European countries have not yet confirmed any launch plans.

Cheers ~ Arne

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