The HP iPaq Glisten smartphone has some excellent business features, but a small touchscreen.
The name "iPaq" evokes distant memories of those monolithic PDAs from a decade ago. Fortunately, the HP iPaq Glisten looks nothing like its ancestors. But its operating system, however, makes the Glisten feel like it is stuck in the past - it runs the basic Windows Mobile 6.5 user interface.
Slightly resembling an older BlackBerry Curve smartphone, the Glisten's front face is split between a 2.5in display and a full qwerty keyboard. The Glisten is attractive and will look right at home in any executive boardroom with its soft black rubberised body and silver detailing. The HP iPaq Glisten feels great in the hand as well, though it is a bit on the larger side compared with other phones that have similar designs.
Rather than a trackball or trackpad, the HP iPaq Glisten has a circular directional pad surrounded by your standard Windows Mobile array of hardware buttons: Talk, Start menu, okay, and End. The top of the Glisten has the Power button and a dedicated Wi-Fi on/off key. The left side has the volume rocker, and the right side has both a mini-USB port and a standard 3.5-mm headphone jack. A stylus is on the bottom.
One of the HP iPaq Glisten's best features is its keyboard. With its large, rounded keys and variety of customisable shortcut keys, it is of the same caliber as the BlackBerry Bold's keyboard. The letters are clearly marked and nicely backlit, so we had no trouble reading them.
The HP iPaq Glisten has a gorgeous AMOLED touch display, though it's a bit small. AMOLED technology boasts brighter colours, better viewing angles, and longer battery life. The touch display was fairly responsive, but we sometimes found that it reacted slowly to gestures and swipes. And unfortunately, this great screen seems sort of wasted on the lacklustre user interface.
Unlike with the Samsung Omnia 2 or the HTC Tilt 2, there's no touch-friendly or aesthetically pleasing overlay running over the Windows Mobile 6.5 OS. While version 6.5 is a big improvement in usability over 6.0, it is still difficult to navigate - especially on a touchscreen this small.
When you first turn on the HP iPaq Glisten phone, you're greeted with the Today screen, which lists shortcuts to your text messages, email accounts, photos, music and more. Scrolling through this screen on phones with larger displays is a much smoother experience; again, we found the 2.5in display cramped. Like other Window Mobile phones, you can sync the Glisten with your Outlook calendar and email account. Upcoming appointments or new emails will show up on this screen.
The Windows Mobile Start screen displays your icons in a honeycomb pattern. You can customise the Start menu with a background image and add more widgets and applications to it via the Microsoft Marketplace. Move preferred icons to the top by pressing down on them for a few seconds. Thankfully, you no longer have to use the tiny scroll bar to navigate through the menu; instead, you can flick the screen to scroll to the bottom.
The Glisten ships with the updated Internet Explorer Mobile. To zoom into a page on Internet Explorer Mobile, you tap twice on the area that you want to enlarge. Though the effect isn't as slick as the multitouch pinch-to-zoom control, it works just fine. Browsing is adequate overall, but again, the small screen makes it difficult to navigate around content-heavy pages. The Glisten also has Wi-Fi connectivity, which allowed quicker web surfing than AT&T's 3G Network.
Call quality was solid for the most part, though one of our contacts noted that our voice sounded slightly distant. We also heard a faint hiss over most of our calls, although it wasn't distracting.
In its multimedia capabilities, the HP iPaq Glisten is a bit disappointing. The bland Windows Media Player supports MP3, AAC(+), WMA, and MIDI audio formats; and MPEG, WMV, H.263, and H.264 video formats. Audio quality was adequate, but video playback was choppy and a bit pixelated.
The 3.1-megapixel camera was a bit of a letdown. While the HP iPaq Glisten has a flash, my indoor photos still looked dark, and the details lacked sharpness. There was also a slight shutter lag, so a few of our pictures came out fuzzy. The Glisten also comes with HP's Photosmart Mobile software for editing photos.
The HP iPaq Glisten is currently available only in the US on AT&T, although it can be purchased online SIM-free. It is expected to be made available in the UK in early 2010.
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