With manufactures like HTC, Nokia and Blackberry all splashing out on various interface and cosmetic design tweaks to improve their ranges, the 914c remains relatively fixed in its traditional business overcoat. But with features such as 3G HSDPA, dual Wi-Fi, GPS, front-mounted Qwerty keyboard and a large battery on-board, the HP iPaq 914c provides you with a solid foundation to perform most business tasks. The 914c is available now from Clove and other online retailers for £375.
Although the device is on the larger side in order to accommodate its Qwerty keyboard, the HP 914c does provide a soft finish at the back for handling comfort. You will also find various shortcut buttons, a navigation wheel and a microSDHC card slot on the sides.
The 64mm (2.5-inch) QVGA screen is not what we would call the largest, but it's still vibrant and responsive to stylus inputs. The front-mounted Qwerty keyboard is directly below it, providing easy access for writing emails or documents.
With Windows 6.1 Professional installed you have the added benefits of threaded SMS support, custom domain email setup (as well as Exchange) and a task manger. Additional software is not what you'd call overflowing, but you will find a handy voice commander option for speaking commands such as "call contact" or "speed dial (number)".
Performance was good, considering HP used a 416Mhz CPU, which was boosted by 74Mb of free system memory to ensure smooth operation. You also have access to 3G HSDPA 7.2MBPS download speeds (if your SIM card supports it) and there is dual Wi-Fi available for connecting to hotspots or corporate networks.
An internal GPS receiver is onboard, alongside an external GPS port at the top of the casing, though you will need to buy your own navigation software as you'll only find Google maps installed. When using this GPS software we found the receiver could maintain our position pretty well -- but the supplied data utility was required to speed up location acquisition.
With a large 1940mAh battery deployed we managed to get just short of a full working day out of the device with high usage.
Despite all of these features, our first impression of the 914c's aesthetic was not particularly good. There's definitely a cheaper, plastic aura surrounding it, with its keys and buttons not quite up to the standard set in past models. It's also on the heavy, bulky side compared to a Nokia E71, for example.
Likewise, the screen lacks a transflective coating, which makes it harder to view outdoors. It's also recessed into the casing slightly, meaning the stylus is a must if you want to reach those top corners. For typing comfortably over longer periods of time we found the keys were too small. A few shortcuts, such as a wireless manger, would not have gone amiss, either.
While the 914c is brimming with features, it still lacks a front-facing camera for making video calls. Also, the omission of a TV-out option will hinder those looking for a portable presentation solution. As for battery life, we were not encouraged. Despite the 1940mAH battery we did notice a significant drain when using mobile data to download files.
Call quality from the speaker phone was below average for an HP, and we had to set the volume to high in order to hear our recipient. And lastly, the 3-megapixel camera took some respectable images, but shot times were not the quickest. Though perhaps we're being picky there.
In the end, we have mixed feelings about the HP iPaq 914c. On the one hand it's a capable performer in terms of handling most business requirements, but on the other, it's still deficient in design functionality, as is evidenced by its lack of front-facing video camera and TV-out function. There's also strong competition in the form of the cheaper Nokia E71, which we recommend you look at before making any decisions.
Edited by Marian Smith