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printed October 21, 2014
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Review: HP Veer 4G

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The Veer runs webOS 2.1.2. While HP has added features to webOS since its 2009 debut, the overall appearance and feel of the operating system hasn't changed.

The home screen has the same ribbon of apps at the bottom, and HP's updated searching tool positioned at the top. To get at the apps, hit the arrow button in the ribbon. There are three main menu screens. The apps in the main menu are scattered about with absolutely no rhyme or reason. Why are controls to the Veer's ringers on the third page, but AT&T's Yellow Pages app is on the first page? The good news is that the main menu can be completely customized per the user's preferences.

The gesture area below the screen is confusing to use at first. First-time webOS users might wonder what the heck is going on when they press it and it kills off apps. Thankfully, there's a gesture area tutorial on the Veer that fills you in on its functionality. (Of course, the presence of a tutorial tells me that HP knows the gesture area isn’t intuitive.)

The Veer's search functionality is pretty cool. From the home page, just start typing anything and it will search the phone, your email, your twitter account, Google, etc., for whatever it is you're looking for. For example, I performed a search for "Rich Brome" and the Veer turned up 20 emails in my inbox, several twitter messages, and his contact card. The search function can be fine-tuned in the preferences, such as adding services/locations to perform searches. It also lets users control keyboard shortcuts for launching actions, such starting a new SMS or new email.

Applications behave as “cards." They can be left open and running in the background. From the main screen, swipe back and forth to get at them, and swipe them off the top of the screen to close them. I was able to keep at least two dozen apps running at a time without making the Veer sluggish.

Speaking of speed, the Veer is absolutely the fastest webOS device I've used. It has an 800MHz processor, and I suspect HP has done a lot to optimize its code. Applications opened quickly, screen transitions happened instantly, and the device never had a problem performing tasks.

webOS remains to be one of the prettiest mobile operating systems out there, but it does take some time to get used to.

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