Telstra Corporation HipTop2
- Funky design, Brilliant keyboard, Nice controls
- Screen looks quite poor, Chunky design, Connectivity options somewhat lacking
Considering the price tag and the age of the unit, the Hip Top 2 is a pretty solid device. While the quality of the screen, bulky design and lack of connectivity will be a big negative for some, those looking for a device to IM and SMS on will love this phone.
Price$ 379.00 (AUD)
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The Hiptop 2 from Telstra is a long awaited product that has finally arrived on Australian shores. It's essentially a re-labelled Sidekick II, an extremely popular device distributed in America by T-Mobile, but the Hiptop 2 is designed with a younger audience in mind. While the technology may be a little outdated, the flip-out screen is a nifty feature, and the full QWERTY keyboard makes messaging a breeze. If you can handle the chunky design, and want a distinctive phone to impress your friends, the Hiptop 2 may be right for you.
The most notable element of this phone is the design. It is rather chunky, measuring 133m x 66mm x 23mm and weighing 187g, but this allows for a large screen and the full QWERTY keyboard. When you first take the phone out of the box, it resembles a handheld games console, however, lifting the screen slightly causes it to snap around 180 degrees on a hinge, revealing the keyboard below. This is a funky little mechanism, and very addicitive to play with.
The screen itself is a little disappointing. The 65 thousand colour display has a resolution of 240 x 160, which is a little outdated by today's specifications. We found the colours looked quite dull and the level of detail isn't anywhere near that of other modern units. It is more than adequate for basic phone functions and considering the age and price of the unit it is not surprising, but nonetheless it is one of the few areas where the Hiptop2 suffers.
On the other hand, the keyboard is, simply put, one of the best phone keyboards we have ever used. The buttons are well spaced out, with great tactility, and we found ourselves churning through SMSs faster than ever. This is one of the key areas that will appeal to the younger generation, who tend to SMS more than they call. The rest of the controls are comprised of a scroll wheel for navigation, two selection buttons, a menu key and a shortcut button that links directly to the phone call function. There are also volume, power and mute keys along the top and bottom of the unit.
We found call clarity to be quite good, although a little soft until we cranked it up to max volume. It was somewhat awkward making calls on the phone, thanks to its chunky and slightly boxy shape, but calling doesn't seem to be the primary function of this unit.
The menu system is fairly plain, with a series of icons spread in a semi-circle that are navigated using the wheel. Interestingly, there is no basic phone screen, instead the menu is the default screen. Nonetheless, it displays all the relevant data, including date, time, battery life and reception.
Most of the features included are quite basic. Ring tones are polyphonic, and there are the usual variety of PIM options, such as calendar, to-do list and note taker. Similarly, SMS, MMS and email are all supported. Unfortunately, the rest of the features list is rather bare, with the most noticeable absence being the lack of an MP3 player. On a device such as this, targeted at a younger audience, a media player would be a perfect inclusion. If the screen was improved a little, its size and design would be perfect for watching movies on the go, although even a basic music player would be better than nothing. We also felt more games should have been included. By default there is a single game, similar to asteroids, but the way the controls are configured, the Hiptop 2 is ideal to double as a gaming device.
It runs on the standard 2.5G network, and is GPRS compatible, which enables both web browsing and instant messaging. Running MSN on the phone was a great experience, allowing us to use the aforementioned keyboard to chat with people on the train. Unfortunately there is no infra red or Bluetooth connectivity, which will be a let down for some people.
It has a quoted battery life of 270 minutes talk time, which is decent, but the 60 hours standby time is quite poor by today's standards. We found ourselves charging every day or two, with minimal use, which may not suit those with an on-the-go lifestyle.
With these few enhancements, the unit would be a brilliant entertainment and communication device for teenagers and young adults. As it stands, it is still a good product, and will suit users who SMS a lot and are after a cheap phone that stands out a little from the crowd.
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