HP Veer

The HP Veer is a tiny webOS smartphone. HP-only branded but official info is found on Palm.com. Jon Rubinstein claimed during today’s Think Beyond (full video on YouTube) event that the Veer is as small as a credit card. Well, it is, but only on two dimensions: width (2.15-inch) and length (3.31-inch). The Veer is 0.59 inches thick, way thicker than a credit card. But the fact is the Veer is tiny, probably the tiniest smartphone there is, or more accurately, will be when it comes out sometime during Spring 2011.

I like it. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is coming out with bigger smartphones, except for Apple who has stayed at 3.5 inches for all of its iPhones. The Veer is like a breath of fresh air. Something different.

The diminutive Veer sports a smallish 2.6-inch multitouch TFT LCD. Unfortunately the LCD is only a 6-bit display, which means real non-dithered colors are limited to just 262K colors. Just as a non-direct comparison, the iPhone 4 has a 8-bit LCD that can show more than 16.7 million colors. The Veer won’t look as good if you’ve been spoiled by 8-bit displays. And I’m pretty certain an 8-bit LCD wouldn’t have cost all that more, but oh well, HP thought different.

The pixel format is 320×400 with a 4:5 aspect ratio. If you flip that around it’s 5:4, which is the aspect ratio on most oldish 17-inch and 19-inch monitors that sported 1280×1024 pixel formats. This more squarish aspect ratio on the Veer is quite interesting. I wonder what usage model Rubinstein & Gang were thinking of when they decided to use this unique but unusual 4:5 display. I can think of one! Digital Polaroids! Those sport an aspect ratio of roughly 6:7 or in pixels 320×370. The weird LCD on the Veer might just be perfect for that. Just a thought…

The Veer is tiny and I think a lot of people with smaller hands will enjoy it, but the keyboard; it might be too dang small. The display isn’t all that great but it is quite possibly the most squarish display on a modern smartphone. One very obvious thing HP overlooked: the keyboard should have slid out sideways. Then it could’ve been bigger, maybe even the same size as the Pre3. And all of us used to 5:4 monitors, and there are a lot of us, would have felt more comfortable.