Hiptop Slide

June 1st, 2008 Desktop, Mobile Computing, Tech

Telstra have partnered exclusively with Motorola to bring the Hiptop Slide to Australian users, and many of the reports and reviews you’ve read will make you think it’s for teenagers – especially as it’s shown up in rap videos and movies, Motorola evidently seeking cool-by-association with the right product placement. That’s especially true when you flick through the Bigpond Catalogue that’s part of the operating system, a directory of a million download services just waiting for kiddie (or tween) fingers to discover, leaving the heart attack to their parents later when the bill arrives.

Don’t be fooled that this will only suit the nephews and nieces of the family, however. Size wise, it’s no bigger than most smartphones of the last few years such as the O2 Xda, so it’s more than comfortable to use as a phone.

Slide the 5×4 centimetre screen away and the feel of it in your hand will seduce you instantly. For starters (and an anthropologist might be able to shed more light on this), it makes a big difference when the screen has a landscape rather than a portrait orientation, the usual form factor of a phone. The Hiptop feels like a little computer, typing away on the tiny QWERTY keyboard made all the more compelling.

There’ve been complaints the keys are too small and it does take some care to tap them correctly, but they’re well shaped and responsive and we found it comfortable composing emails and text messages. The only time you’ll actually hold the device lengthwise is when making a call. The rest of the time it lends itself perfectly to two-handed operation. You manipulate the small trackball under your right thumb to navigate through the onscreen menus, and there are four more buttons at each corner for a contextual menu, navigate up a level, agree (‘enter’) or go right back to the home screen (‘jump page’ in Hiptop parlance).

The camera is fairly low quality. We took some shots that came out a decent size even for hi res use but were terribly rough with washed-out colour. It’s also not very customisable, with no apparent way of changing the front screen picture that we could see, for example.

It’s also more than just a handset. At any time you can log into a web page where all your data is automatically synched; photos uploaded, calendars updated and a web-based email client that then syncs with the email software on the phone. It’s a nice touch and makes the Hiptop more of a communications service than just a phone. Combined with a fairly addictive form factor, it’s worth considering for more reason than just to impress teenagers.

RRP: $679

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