HP iPAQ 612c Business Navigator

An all-round performer

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HP iPAQ 612c Business Navigator
  • HP iPAQ 612c Business Navigator
  • HP iPAQ 612c Business Navigator
  • HP iPAQ 612c Business Navigator
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • HSDPA 7.2, GPS, Wi-Fi, operation speed

Cons

  • Dull design, scroll wheel isn’t as intuitive as it could have been, lack of extra HP software, no turn-by-turn navigation

Bottom Line

The iPAQ 612c offers a fairly impressive list of features and bundles them to form a reasonable device. The lack of HP software is disappointing and the scroll wheel could use some work, but there is plenty to like about this handset on the whole.

Would you buy this?

Featuring a unique scroll wheel that sits on top of its keypad, HP's latest iPAQ is a smartphone that offers plenty of features. Along with the software bundled with the Windows Mobile OS, this beast boasts HSDPA 7.2, AGPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

Aesthetically, the iPAQ 612c isn't going to turn many heads. Its design screams business tool rather than fashion statement, but this is rather appropriate considering its branding as a 'Business Navigator'. It's not an ugly device, but the black and silver colour scheme and slightly chunky build definitely won't appeal to fashionistas.

A unique feature of the 612c is its touch-sensitive scroll wheel. This consists of a raised ring above the keypad that simply allows you to swirl your thumb in order to navigate through the device. Although its responsiveness is excellent, the fact that it doesn't incorporate a selection button is an annoyance. The enter button is located to the right of the scroll wheel, meaning you have to lift your thumb away from the wheel to press it. For this reason, we prefer the three-way scroll wheel located on the left hand side of the handset, although the fact that you have to press it quite firmly to select a menu item is a little annoying.

Aside from the dual scroll wheels, the 612c has two selection buttons below the display and features plenty of shortcut keys, including start, OK, clear and enter. We liked the button in the lower left corner that re-orientates the screen from portrait to landscape, while the 'silent' button at the top of the unit is also a handy touch. The keypad is reasonably comfortable for typing on, despite there being little space between each key. The buttons do require a firm press, however, and the raised ring denoting the touch-sensitive scroll wheel can be a slight hindrance when typing.

The iPAQ 612c runs Windows Mobile 6, so it includes all the standard features bundled with this version of Microsoft's OS. Excel, PowerPoint and Word Mobile applications are included, as are Windows Media Player and a PDF viewer. For e-mail, it's easy to configure for use with Microsoft Exchange 2003, while you can also use standard POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts, including Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. A suite of Windows Live applications includes Windows Live Messenger, Hotmail, Spaces and Live Search, while HP has included shortcuts to Google search and Google Maps in the Start menu.

We were reasonably impressed with the speed of the 612c: running multiple applications doesn't tend to slow down performance. For extra memory, the 612c comes with a microSD card slot, but its location behind the battery is an annoyance.

Unfortunately, the lack of HP software add-ons is a little disappointing. Most vendors have a software suite that they include on WM6 devices, but HP only offers a fairly straightforward shortcut menu and Photosmart Mobile software — hardly inspiring business applications. The Photosmart software is useful in tandem with the 3-megapixel camera that features flash and a self-portrait mirror. The program allows you to e-mail, message and print photos, as well as upload them to HP's Snapfish printing service.

GPS is also a feature but the 612c doesn't come with navigational software installed — a little ironic considering it has been dubbed the 'iPAQ Business Navigator'. The Google Maps application is present and works reasonably well on a search and locate basis, but for turn-by-turn navigation you'll need to purchase extra software which is a little disappointing.

The 612c is an HSDPA 7.2 device and it worked without any issues over Telstra's Next G network during testing. For mobile Internet, the standard Internet Explorer browser isn't the most intuitive to use, but pages loaded swiftly so we had little to complain about. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth with A2DP and USB 2.0 round out the connectivity features. HP also includes a fairly mediocre mini-USB headset and mini-USB cable in the sales package.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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