HP Veer 4G: A Supercompact WebOS Phone

Picking up right where the Palm Pixi left off, the ($100 with a two-year AT&T contract as of May 5, 2011) is smaller than your average high-end smartphone. Not everybody wants--or needs--a monolithic 4.3-inch phone, though. And just because the Veer is smaller doesn't mean that it misses out on all the heavy specs. The Veer's tiny design is a nice change from the dozens of large Android phones we've seen over the past year.

Immediately, the Veer reminded me of Microsoft's sad little , with its square, compact shape. But the Veer, sporting a curved back and edges plus soft backing, is a lot slicker than the Kin One. Fans of the Palm Pre and Pixi will be happy to know that the Veer (as well as the Pre 3, for that matter) retains the mirror on the back of the phone for all of your self-portrait needs. The Veer comes in black and white. (And thankfully, there's no delay with the white model!) We got a white review unit, which looks quite stylish.

When the phone is closed, it is ridiculously tiny, measuring 3.31 inches tall by 2.15 inches wide by 0.59 inches thick. It weighs a light 3.63 ounces. It is so compact that I fear that it could get lost easily in a purse or backpack. If you carry your phone in your pants pocket, however, you'll barely even notice it's there. Holding it up to your ear is a bit awkward, just because it is so diminutive. Honestly, I felt a bit silly talking on a phone this small!

The Veer has a 2.6-inch, 320-by-400-pixel display, which is pretty small compared with the 3.5-inch or larger displays we see on almost all new 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 slightly cramped as I opened and shuffled through apps; I wish that it was slightly larger for that purpose.

The keyboard--a vertical-sliding keyboard with Chiclet-style keys--is similar to those on the older Palm phones. Unfortunately, the soft, gummy keys (which I've griped about in the past) are still present. Gone is the sharp lip, making room for more space between the keys. The keyboard is still a little awkward to type on, though. If you have big hands, you will get very frustrated using this phone. My colleague reported that his fingers kept "pressing three keys at once."