16 hours with the iPAQ Data Messenger

I got my hands on a HP iPAQ Data Messenger with pre-production firmware last night and so far I’ve spent 16 hours, including an entire day out this morning with HP’s latest (business?) Pocket PC phone. I’ve stuck my SIM card from the HP iPAQ 612c and it worked straight away. Let me just make a short list of the main things that struck me right away (Do note that this is with a pre-production unit with pre-prod firmware, so things may change when I get my hands on a final, retail unit):

  • This thing is glossy! Kinda like 612c-keypad type of glossy. It doesn’t show fingerprints visibly unless in very bright light
  • There are two sensors to the left of the HP logo on the front, visible only under bright sunlight. One is a light sensor and the other is apparently a proximity sensor.
  • The completely flush touchscreen is a welcome move by HP. Now I can finally reach the buttons on the edges of the screen easily with my finger
  • The back design of the Data Messenger looks very classy, in my opinion. The camera and a single LED flash are placed at the very edge and are discrete. Compared to the HP iPAQ 612c, the 612c looks more “fancy camera phone” like while the Data Messenger’s back clearly says “I mean business”. There’s no “megapixel logo” or words anywhere, and I hope it STAYS this way in the final unit (I hate people telling me “only 3 megapixels?”).
  • Because the camera lens is on the very side of the phone, you would want to keep your fingers away from the edge when holding the Data Messenger.
  • The loudspeaker is VERY loud. I didn’t need any fancy meters or machinery to measure that – just using my ears, I could hear the speaker on the Data Messenger was noticeably louder than the iPAQ 612c. The speaker also didn’t crackle when I cranked the volume up to the max and has very good dynamic range (Again, noticeably better than the 612c)
  • I’m not trying to say the iPAQ 612c is a lousy jukebox… it’s a good Pocket PC phone, except the Data Messenger raises the bar by a notch. I like the Data Messenger’s loudspeaker. In fact I like it a LOT
  • The front “Start” and “OK” buttons at the bottom are NOT “clicky” hardware buttons. They seem to be capacitive touch (you know like those buttons on HP’s notebooks). I’m having mixed feelings about these two buttons – I like the ability to just “touch” them to close an application, but at the same time, your thumb will naturally rest on the “OK” button in camera mode (thus accidentally closing the camera app)
  • The camera takes good photos. The Data Messenger and 612c both have 3 megapixel cameras. The Data Messenger seems to take better exposed photos and more accurate colors though. On the negative side, zoom and exposure are operated ONLY via the touchscreen (Eventhough there’s a navigation pad) and the camera seems to be continuously focusing all the time (and half-pressing the shutter button doesn’t do anything to autofocus)

Right, that’s about it for now. I’m off again; gonna spend the evening out and about, with the Data Messenger, and will post more about the phone once I’ve spent more time with it. Toodles!

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