User Friendly

Too-small screen, keyboard make Veer a tough sell

By Mark Baard
May 30, 2011

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I thought it would be fun to swap the supersize Samsung Infuse for the HP Veer 4G. The Infuse, which I like, is a large smartphone that uses Google Inc.’s Android operating system and has a 4.5-inch touch screen and an on-screen keypad.

The Veer, however, with its 2.6-inch touchscreen, is so small that despite its bright screen and clear text, reading anything on it beyond a few lines of text is unpleasant.

Typing on the Veer’s slide-out keyboard is grueling. When the tip of your thumb covers at least two keys, you find yourself entering your user name and password multiple times while trying to access Facebook, other apps, or websites.

For typing accuracy, I recommend growing some sharp fingernails.

After two attempts, I gave up on entering my particulars into the Grooveshark app I downloaded from the HP App Catalog.

The Veer, available through AT&T Inc., is not all bad, however. The device has a 5-megapixel camera/camcorder and a camera app from which you can directly share pics via e-mail and MMS.

The Veer runs on HP webOS (formerly Palm OS), an operating system that few are talking about as a contender in the smartphone wars. WebOS takes a bit of getting used to; the Veer comes with a gesture tutorial, which shows you how to draw up the operating system’s launch bar and flick your finger to launch, close, and sort apps.

Once your get your bearings, it becomes easy to use AT&T’s navigation and mobile Wi-Fi sharing features — you can make the Veer into a hotspot for other devices — and the games and organizers you will find in the App Catalog.

Apps include webOS versions of Angry Birds and other entertainment programs available to users of Apple Inc.’s iPhones and Android smartphones.

The Veer is about $100 with a two-year contract. It has a cool wall-charging device that snaps into the side of the phone with magnets and is compatible with the HP Touchstone Charging Dock.

The Touchstone costs about $50. It turns your device’s speakerphone on automatically when you place it on the charger and performs a couple of other neat tricks.

Ear buds

In light Logitechs, a bit of what the pros hear

If you’re seeking an immersive listening experience that won’t have you feeling the weight of two cans over your ears, you could probably do worse than the Ultimate Ears 700 Noise-Isolating Earphones, from Logitech International.

Logitech sells custom-fitting Ultimate Ears in-ear monitors for professional musicians. Those cost more than $1,000 apiece. The 700s are about $150 but will feel custom-fitted. They come with tapered foam tips and silicone ear cushions for blocking outside noise and securing a good fit.

The 700s have two speakers in each ear bud, further ensuring you will not miss a sound from your iPod. You can also wear them over your ears for greater stability while exercising.

A hard case, which should help protect the ear buds, comes with the 700s. It will make it easier to keep track of them, as well.