The current iPAQ Data Messenger is a decent Pocket PC device (though not the best, obviously, which is why HP needs to do better) – flush screen, 2.5 mm headphone jack, QWERTY keyboard – but one of the things that people were complaining about when it was first announced was the lack of a ‘custom’ Windows Mobile skin. Well, you know, things like TouchFLO 3D by HTC and Samsung’s Touch Wiz UI’s… I’ve recently been told (And found out from reading ‘late’ reviews on the net) that HP now includes a new ‘HP Menu’ interface on later iPAQ Data Messenger units.
The implementation isn’t as elaborate as the UI’s from HTC or Samsung as it only makes the Today screen more finger-friendly among a few other screens – while HTC, for example, have gone all the way to make almost the whole Windows Mobile OS more ‘thumb-able’). Nevertheless, that’s pretty good for starters (after all, this is HP’s first attempt at including a Windows Mobile ‘skin’ with their mobile devices). I’ve SEEN the interface, but haven’t tried it yet because as one of the early adopters of the iPAQ Data Messenger, mine obviously didn’t come with the ‘HP Menu’. I’m also perfectly content with the TouchFlo 3D-esque Throttle Launcher I installed on my iPAQ and updating the device’s ROM is a pain as it resets everything.
Right. So what does all this have to do with TouchSmart UI? The next piece of the puzzle comes in the form of a product design image – specifically, the upcoming iPAQ K3 (which the whole world knows about). I’ve seen the user interface in the iPAQ’s screen before (see the picture above) – almost one and a half years ago when the bunch of rumored ‘Windows Mobile 7′ screenshots supposedly came out. I remember the big debate that followed; whether it was ‘for real’ or just a custom skin. It still remains to be confirmed at this point in time what Windows Mobile 7 really looks like, Microsoft has remained mum thus far as they concentrate on marketing Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows 7. The screenshot above looks suspiciously like the rumored WM7 interface (though it could just be a skin), save for the color scheme. Microsoft has a thing for the color blue, while the HP Touchsmart UI has a black color scheme – again, just like the screenshot above. There’s also a 3 x 4 grid of large icons there and the clock at the top of the screen uses a font which is surprisingly consistent with the one HP uses on their Touchsmart PCs. It all looks too un-Microsoft and more ‘Touchsmart’ than ever…
Is HP about to bring their Touchsmart UI to upcoming iPAQs? I have reason to believe so. First it was the all-in-one desktop Touchsmart, then late last year, HP brought out their first Touchsmart notebook (tablet form-factor)… so logically, the next step would be to create a ‘Touchsmart handheld’. I guess we’ll find out this fall, around September-October (aka iPAQ Season), which is when HP usually announces new handheld/mobile devices.