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HP iPaq 9000 Business Messenger

Among the slew of new iPaq products HP released last week, including GPS navigators, PDAs and phones, the iPaq 900 Series Business Messenger immediately stands out as the most powerful and promising of the bunch. With built-in GPS, Wi-Fi, 3G and EDGE networking, plus a full QWERTY keyboard, HP makes no overtures to users looking for a portable entertainment center – the iPaq 900 is all about getting down to business.

A single glance at the exterior makes this much obvious. The iPaq 900 sports HP’s familiar, conservative style. Matte black plastic and a simple rectangular shape with rounded corners won’t turn any heads, but given the straight-shooting nature of the phone, we wouldn’t expect HP to really try to set it apart visually.

At 4.5 inches tall, 2.5 inches wide and .6 inches deep, the iPaq 900 certainly couldn’t be considered petite, but it’s competitive with other phones with similar features, such as the BlackBerry Curve. An unfortunate drawback to the full QWERTY keyboard is a relatively modest 2.46-inch LCD, although it manages to accommodate half-VGA (320 x 240) resolution. The built-in 3-megapixel camera is one of the few concessions to entertainment this phone makes, albeit a necessary one since cameras have more or less become standard features on all but the cheapest phones.

HP iPaq 9000
HP iPaq 9000

But it’s what’s inside that really matters, and that’s where the iPaq 900 distinguishes itself. Three forms of networking options means users will seldom be out in the cold when it comes to connectivity: Standard 802.11 B/G Wi-Fi will provide the fastest data transfer when available, while both HSDPA (3G) and the slightly slower EDGE wireless protocols can keep the iPaq connected when Wi-Fi is out of the picture. Although either wireless standard would function fine on its own, having both makes the iPaq compatible with a wider variety of cell carriers and functional in more geographic regions. Bluetooth connectivity also means the iPaq 900 can be paired up with a laptop to act as a modem.

The elite business traveler will likely appreciate the iPaq 900’s built-in GPS, which could come in handy for navigating in unfamiliar cities without a briefcase cluttered with maps and printed directions. New GPS-enabled phones from BlackBerry and Palm mean keeping up with the Jones’ now includes knowing your latitude and longitude to the second, so HP was wise to include it on their top-of-the-line iPaq.

Windows Mobile 6 keeps all these hardware features tied together and offers the standard PDA functions users have come to expect, including task lists, calendars, Web browsers and all other indispensables. As a well-established operating system, there’s also a healthy selection of third-party software available for it, so users shouldn’t have too many problems filling in any gaps in functionality with additional applications.

One interesting feature HP includes right of the box is the ability to make VoIP calls over Wi-Fi networks. Wise use of this feature could potentially save users from purchasing more expensive cell phone plans by letting them use Internet access instead of air time, especially if they make many calls from a home or office where Wi-Fi is already available.

Only time, use and abuse will tell whether HP’s latest Smartphone is ready to run with major players like BlackBerry and Palm, but given its features, it certainly stands a fighting chance on paper. Unfortunately, HP hasn’t yet announced prices for the phone, which will obviously be a large factor in the phone’s success or failure.