The HP Veer 4G is a webOS smartphone from AT&T that promises to pack a lot of smarts into a very small package. It has a 2.6-inch 320 x 400 touchscreen, a 5 megapixel camera with video capture, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi b/g/n, plus mobile hotspot capability.
It is currently available from AT&T for $99 with a new two-year service contract. For those who don't qualify for a subsidy, the price goes up to $450.
BUILD & DESIGN:
The Veer is best described as a pebble-shaped slider phone, and the first thing you'll notice is just how tiny it is. It's smaller than a credit card when closed, and when you put it in your pocket, you might even forget it's in there. It's a welcome change from some of today's giant smartphones, though it does come with a few drawbacks that will be discussed later in this review.
Of course some folks may think that it's too small -- several of my friends (mainly male) commented that the Veer was so tiny that they would lose it almost instantly. They do have a point considering a heavier phone might make its absence known sooner if you ever forgot to put it back in your pocket after putting it down.
The design aesthetic is polished and clean, with rounded edges and minimal buttons. It feels good in the hand and it weighs less than four ounces. The front is all one piece, with the only seam right at the edge of the device, where the case wraps around the edges. On the white model, there is a thin line where the two slider portions of the phone come together.
The touchscreen is quite small of course, and can't compete with the giant, OLED-powered marvels on other modern smartphones, but that should come as no surprise since the Veer is in a completely different category.
The 2.6-inch display does get the job done, though there are a few jagged edges here and there if you look closely. Depending on your viewing angle, there can be some slightly strange shading effects on some of the white areas, but if you're looking head on everything looks fine.
Colors are bright and photos look good. The screen is still visible in direct sunlight, though you may need to shade the phone a bit for optimum readability.
There's a special graphic effect that shows exactly where you're pressing when you're using it as a touchscreen, and that really helps ensure that you're selecting the right spot, though there are still a few challenges, especially when browsing the Web.
The physical QWERTY keyboard is located just under the screen, so you'll need to slide it up to expose the keys. They're tiny, but well labeled and made of a nice hard plastic so they don't feel too squishy. There's a satisfying click when you press each one so you won't have to wonder if you've activated the key you've pressed.
The keys do have some spacing between each one, but it was hard for me to discern when I was actually pressing the keys. It seems that the best way to use this particular keyboard is to "just do it" without thinking about it too much. The faster I typed, the more accurate my entry, which sounds strange. But if I slowed down and really concentrated on what I was typing, in order to make sure I didn't make any mistakes, my accuracy got worse.
I think that folks with larger fingers will have more trouble with this keyboard, but I found it to be entirely useable. It's fine for texts, entering web addresses, and of course for searches, since that's the primary way you interact with the Veer. I wouldn't want to enter a ton of text at one sitting, such as a long business document, but for everyday use, I really like it.
Other Buttons & Controls
The power button is on the top right corner of the device along with the ringer/silent mode switch. Volume buttons are on the left side, and there's a lanyard/strap attachment on the top left corner of the phone.
The right side of the phone features a magnetic port that is used to both charge the phone and to add the headphone adapter dongle. The magnetic connection is very tight, but easy to remove when you want to do so. I "tested" this feature several times by tripping over the charging cord. Even when my clumsiness yanked the phone off my desk and sent it skittering across the floor, the charging cable still stayed attached.
Of course having to use a dongle to listen to your music with headphones is less than ideal, especially because it's such a small, easy-to-lose part. Fortunately it keeps a firm grip on the phone when plugged in, and it's not so hard to store. When you want to unplug your headphones, just grab the dongle and pull it off the side of the phone, leaving your headphones plugged in to it. That way it's there when you need it, but you won't be as likely to lose the dongle.
The AC adapter is very small, and has folding prongs for easy travel. That's a good thing, because as you'll find out just a bit later in this review, you'll want to keep it with you wherever you go.
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