Calling itself the Business Navigator, the HP iPAQ 612 certainly looks the part. With its traditional candy bar style and clad in black and gray, any suit-wearing business person would find this device a perfect match for his or her attire. At 145 grams, it is one of the heavier Windows Mobile Devices but that's partially because of its relatively large 2.8-inch touchscreen display.
The first thing that caught our attention was the embossed circle smack right in the middle of the keypad: The Smart Touch Navigational Touch Wheel. It reminds us of an iPod wheel; so if you are familiar with that, you should already have a headstart. It scrolls like an iPod wheel, but the similarities end there. Unlike the iPod, it does not allow you to select an item, thus requiring the use of the stylus or OK button. However, the wheel's saving grace is that it does allow quick scrolling of contacts and eBooks.
One of the stranger design decisions on the iPAQ 612 is its stylus placement. Found on the left (as what we've seen on the LG KS20 previously), we wondered if the iPAQ 612 is trying its best to cater to left-handed users as right-handed users would find it slightly awkward to retrieve the stylus. Furthermore, the location of the microSD slot behind the battery requires the hassle of turning the device on/off when you need to swap your microSD card.
Powered by a speedy 520MHz Marvell processor that was recently used for the MWg Atom V and aided by its 128MB RAM, we were impressed by the 612's responsiveness even with a couple of applications operating in the background. With an integrated 3-megapixel camera with 4x zoom, the images produced by the 612 are average at best. That being said, the camera should not be of utmost importance for a smartphone.
What really counts is the fact that the 612 supports HP's mobile device management solution, the HP Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS). This provides customers with an unified asset management of their iPAQ handhelds, desktops, notebooks and server devices. With the usual connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Assisted GPS, the 612 also ensures you will never get lost. Besides the standard Windows Mobile applications, HP has gone one step further, enabling direct upload access to Snapfish so that users can upload photos quickly to their Snapfish account.
Retailing at S$999, the HP Navigator 612 is priced between the MWg's Atom V and HTC's Cruise, both of which have somewhat similar features on the connectivity and productivity front. In the end though, it really boils down to the one that bests suits your character and outlook.