Telstra Corporation hiptop Red

A new coat of hiptop paint

Telstra Corporation hiptop Red
  • Telstra Corporation hiptop Red
  • Telstra Corporation hiptop Red
  • Telstra Corporation hiptop Red
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • User-friendly interface, excellent design, trackball, IM and e-mail features, relatively inexpensive

Cons

  • No 3G, lack of video recording/playback, 2.5mm headphone jack, no A2DP Bluetooth, mediocre camera, keyboard may be a tad small for some

Bottom Line

The hiptop gets a new coat of paint but no new features. It remains a very user-friendly device with some nice features, but multimedia buffs will be disappointed.

Would you buy this?

Telstra and Motorola have partnered again to launch another hiptop device, the hiptop Red. Exclusively available on the Telstra network, the hiptop Red is basically the HipTop Slide with a new coat of paint.

The hiptop is a re-branded Sidekick device, an extremely popular smartphone in the US for teenagers and people in their early 20s. Although it appeals to the same demographic here, the hiptop Red suffers from the same issues as its predecessor — the lack of multimedia functions and the minimal feature improvements over the original hiptop device mean that many will give the hiptop Red the slip in favour of newer, more feature-rich smartphones.

The hiptop Red is an extremely well-designed device, featuring a slide-up display and full QWERTY keyboard. The 2.5in screen is crisp and clear, although it's not as rich as some newer smartphones we've reviewed.

The design of the Red is quite compact, despite the inclusion of a keyboard. It also manages to feel like a pretty solid device. The sliding mechanism is smooth and the buttons and controls — with the exception of the two difficult-to-reach function buttons on the top #8212; are easy to use and well placed, particularly the intuitive trackball. Some people may be disappointed with the small keyboard, but we were typing at very reasonable speeds after just a few hours of use, so its learning curve isn't steep.

The menu system and user interface in general is excellent and the trackball makes it easy to use. Menu icons on the main screen are laid out in a semi-circle and are easy to select using either the trackball or the four-way navigational pad. The animated menu screens when switching between applications are a nice touch, as are the button shortcut commands.

The biggest drawback of the hiptop Red is the lack of 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity. The included Internet browser works reasonably well, but network speeds on EDGE will leave you frustrated. Also perplexing is the hiptop's lack of multimedia features — although it includes an MP3 player, songs can only be played through a microSD card (not included), the headphone jack is 2.5mm rather than the standard 3.5mm and there is no A2DP Bluetooth profile. There is also no video playback or video recording and the 1.3-megapixel camera doesn't include a flash, self-portrait mirror or autofocus.

The strength of the hiptop is its messaging and e-mail functions. The interface and ease of use is excellent, with both Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger applications installed. The Red can handle up to three POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts, in addition to the included hiptop e-mail address. The e-mail application works well, but slow network speeds mean that downloading large messages can take some time. The Red also comes with a MySpace Mobile application — a version of the popular social-networking site for mobile phones. It is quite impressive, with most functions, including uploading photos, available.

Other features of the Red include speed dialling and call forwarding, three-way calling and a hands-free speakerphone; there is no voice dialling. Call quality is a mixed bag: the volume is generally loud, but it can be difficult to hear with heavy background noise. Bluetooth is present and worked well for hands-free calling with a Bluetooth speakerphone, but we had some trouble sending files from our computer.

Telstra offers the hiptop Red on a $30 per month plan that includes unlimited instant messaging, Web browsing, e-mail, SMS and MMS, and $30 wroth of credit for voice calls. Calls on this plan are charged at 30c for every 30 seconds plus a 27c flag fall.

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