Hands On With the HP Veer

Picking up where the Palm Pixi left off, the HP Veer is smaller than your average high-end smartphone. But not everybody wants—or needs--a monolithic 4.3-inch phone so it is nice to see HP come up with some alternative form factors.

Immediately, the Veer reminded me of Microsoft's sad little Kin One, with its square, compact form factor. The Veer is a lot slicker than the Kin One though with its curved back and edges and soft backing. Fans of the Pre and Pixi will be happy to know that the Veer (as well as the Pre 3 for that matter) retain the mirror on the back of the phone for all of your self-portrait needs.

Side view of the Veer.

The ultra-thin HP Veer has a 2.6-inch display, which is pretty small compared to the 3.5-inch and larger displays we see on most smartphones today. The size threw me off a bit—you're not going to watch video on this thing. But details looked sharp and colors were bright and vivid. I will say that the screen felt a bit cramped as I opened and shuffled through apps and I wished that it was slightly larger for that purpose.

The keyboard is the same idea as the older Palm phones: It is a vertical-sliding keyboard with those chiclet-like keys. Unfortunately, those gummy keys are still there, which I've griped about in the past. Gone, however, is sharp lip making room for more space between the keys. It is still a bit awkward to type on though

The Veer's keyboard.

But just because it is smaller, that doesn't mean it doesn't pack in some heavy specs. The Veer has a 5-megapixel camera, 8 GB of on-board memory, HSPA+ support, Adobe Flash support and the HP Mobile Hostpot. Powered by the second generation Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, the Veer runs “HP webOS 2.1.1 (according to the device info on the phone).

The camera took pretty decent pictures in the dimly lit hands-on area, but I'd like to get it out in the real world. In terms of performance, I was impressed at how the little Veer flew through apps and quickly opened Web pages.

Is there room in the smartphone world for these smaller handsets? Did HP help webOS get its groove back? Sound off in the comments below.

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