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Summary:

The HP iPAQ line of mobile devices has been around for a long time. HP’s latest entry into the smartphone world, the Glisten, is a touch-enabled phone that also includes a great QWERTY keyboard. So how does the Glisten stack up overall?

HP Glisten

HP iPAQ evokes strong feelings of nostalgia in me. I think I’ve played with every iPAQ ever made, and remember fondly the move from PDA to smartphone. When HP offered to send over the Glisten for me to have a look, I admit to having feelings of yesteryear passing before my eyes. So how does HP’s latest offering in the smartphone space stack up? I’ll leave that assessment up to you, and give my thoughts on the Glisten to help you do that.

The HP Glisten is available in the U.S. on the AT&T network. It has all of the pieces you expect a good smartphone to have:

  • Size: 112.8 x 62.8 x 13.4 mm, 132 grams (4.44 x 2.47 x 0.53 inches, 4.65 ounces)
  • Radios: North America — 850/1900 MHz, GSM/GPRS/EDGE; 850/1900 UMTS/HSDPA; Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g), Bluetooth 2.0
  • Display: 2.5-inch AMOLED resistive touch screen
  • QWERTY keyboard, 5-way D-pad
  • Audio features: 3.5 mm headphone, speakerphone, dual microphones (bottom and back) with noise cancellation
  • Camera: 3.1 megapixel, 5X digital zoom, fixed focus
  • Battery: 1590 mAh, Li-Polymer
  • Memory: 256 MB SDRAM / 512 MB Flash
  • Storage: Micro SD slot (no memory card included)
  • GPS: Assisted GPS (software not included)
  • OS: Windows Mobile 6.5
  • Applications: Microsoft Office Mobile, Outlook Mobile, IE Mobile 6, Windows Media Player Mobile, MS Internet Sharing, MSN Money, MSN Weather, Facebook, and more

I have been using the Glisten for a little while and my impressions are mixed, I must admit. The hardware is typical iPAQ — first-rate. The phone is very well constructed and although a bit wide it fits comfortably in the hand. The hardware buttons below the screen are big and easy to hit, and the D-pad is easy to use.

The single best feature of the Glisten is the QWERTY keyboard. It may be the best thumb keyboard I have ever used, as the keys are decently sized with a nice curvature for fast typing. Everybody I have handed the Glisten to has immediately remarked how much they like this keyboard. HP has produced a winner with it.

The Glisten comes packed with Windows Mobile 6.5, and the user experience is a mixed bag. I love the attractive today screen, and it has been properly optimized to work with touch. The Home screen is another beast altogether, as try as I have I can’t get used to the honeycomb display of programs. That is further complicated by the fact that there is little user control over this display, and newly installed programs go to the very bottom of the screen. That requires constant scrolling to get to the app just installed, which is backward. You can move some icons to the top of the screen, but that’s the sum total of the control over the display.

Windows Mobile 6.5 is still very stylus-centric, and that’s the biggest problem I have using the Glisten. The screen is fairly small for a touch screen, and things can be so small on the display that the stylus is the only sure way to hit them. HP has included a stylus with the Glisten that stores neatly in the phone for this reason.

The lack of a good touch interface is constantly an issue. WM6.5 uses two soft buttons on the bottom of the screen that are context-sensitive based on the active program. That’s normally a good thing, but the Glisten lacks hardware buttons that correspond to these soft buttons. The user is thus constantly faced with needing to hit a soft button, and they are so small the only sure way to hit them is with the stylus. That involves stopping, removing the stylus from its silo, tapping the screen — well, you get the picture.

This leads me to the impression I get when using the Glisten. The smaller screen, even though touch-enabled, coupled with the large keyboard, makes it seem a natural that the user should be able to interact with the phone without needing touch. That’s not the case as I’ve demonstrated, and it feels unnatural to keep shifting between touching controls and using the buttons. It’s like the phone can’t decide what it wants to be: a touch phone or not.

Overall I find the Glisten to be a very good phone. Audio quality is very good and the speakerphone is quite loud. The noise cancellation makes voice input for programs that support it work nicely. The Glisten does what a phone should do very well, and that is make phone calls.

 
  1. Hey, I really like that picture-viewer-container-thingy. It makes for very quick viewing without page refreshes. And that transparent thumbnail bar at the bottom is cool. Keep up the website improvements. You guys are getting better every day.

    As for the iPAQ phone, it reminds me too much of all those corporate Crackberries, I hate them all. I will stick with capacitive touchscreen interfaces. The finger rules. Droid out.

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    1. We love the new photo gallery, too. Our tech people are the best in the business.

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      1. Hi James my wife has a Hp Ipaq Glisten Eversince she got it we have have had trouble signing on to interet. We have WiFi in the houseand it shows up on the phone. We can get Face Book and our email on the phone. but when we go to sign on internet Interet Explorer we have a problem. Can you help. Thanks

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  2. I still worry that Windows Mobile 6.5 is about to be replaced with a completely new OS soon. One that’s incompatible with the WM6.5.

    Am I the only one who thinks that if you buy a current Windows Phone, like the HP Glisten, that the platform will soon get axed. I’m expecting the new platform to have different hardware requirements, which would mean that no upgrade is available.

    Maybe I’m just the pessimist! But I can’t see any other way it could be.

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    1. I really don’t see 6.5 getting axed. Only MS can state if it can be updated to WM7 when it’s finally released. But the fact is, in the past it’s up to several factors to determine if any given phone gets an update or not, and this will be no different.

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    2. That’s my worry as well. I’m just about to jump on a TP2, despite the news of all the snapdragon handsets coming this year, Zune phone and WM7. Whenever I’ve made the jump on a smartphone, it was dropped by my provider within months, discontinued and replaced by a flashier model.

      Sure the TP2 has been on sale for ages, but I’m still yet to see one at either a Sprint, Verizon or TMO retail store to try out – they just don’t carry the darn thing. :( I’d love to hold out for a Snapdragon device with WM7, but if stores fail to carry them after being launched, like they did with the TP2, then all I can say is that carriers have a serious retail marketing problem. End of rant.

      Question for James, sorry for going off topic, does tethering work on this device?

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      1. I haven’t tried tethering as I was using my iPhone SIM in it. I have used Internet Sharing in WinMo in the past and it works great so as long as the carrier allows it, it should work fine.

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  3. James I need a bit of help with the site. It would be cool if you guys could do a little navigation guide showcasing all the new features. But, here’s my question and its a very basic one. how on earth do I view the older posts. There’s no button at the bottom of the screen, did you guys move it?

    Thanks in advance, james.

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  4. The keyboard (and the whole phone in fact) is very reminiscent of the Motorola Q9/Q9C. It had a wonderful keyboard as well.

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  5. Looks alot lot like my Samsubg Saga phone.
    The Saga has a regular mouse control where the black D-Pad button is on the HP

    Same colour and shape too.

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  6. “…it. I have used Internet Sharing in WinMo in the past and it works great so as long as the carrier allows it, it should work fine.”

    James – I have ATT unlimited data plan. One month I used Internet Sharing and ATT charged the usage per MB as ATT rep said it registered as tethering … cost me hundreds $$.

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    1. That’s the risk of using it without the proper tethering plan, if available.

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    1. I would like to know whether this phone has voip / sip calling facility using Nimbuzz or Fring Application?
    2. Can in use this phone in Doha – Qatar, Middle East?
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