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HTC Shift

 HTC Shift Discontinued
1st October 2007

Our first glimpse of the HTC Shift was way back in March of this year, and finally HTC have announced that the Shift really is coming soon - next month, in fact.

HTC are best known for their Windows smartphones, but the HTC Shift is actually a full-blown PC, albeit a tiny one, that uses HTC's phone expertise to the full.

A quick look around the hardware shows that this is an 800 gram device with a clever sliding mechanism that allows it to be used as a tablet or ultraportable laptop. The display is a 7" 800x480 pixel touchscreen, and there's a VGA resolution camera for web conferencing. The Shift doesn't have a digital camera in the traditional sense, but it would be rather impractical in a device of this size.

 HTC Shift Delve deeper, and it turns out that the HTC Shift has a huge 1 GB of RAM, an 800 MHz Intel processor and WiFi. The Shift has either a 40 or 80 GB hard disk. Mobile connectivity is via tri-band HSDPA or UMTS, and the Shift also has quad-band GSM with GPRS and EDGE. There's also a USB 2.0 port, VGA out and 3.5mm audio jack plug. To top it all, the Shift has fingerprint recognition for added security.

Clever stuff, but the surprising thing about the HTC Shift is that it runs Windows Vista Business, so this is a fully-featured little laptop that can run most things that you'd throw at it.

However, HTC haven't finished with their expertise just yet. The Shift also comes with a clever thing called SnapVUE which is a lightweight application that allows the device to access email, contacts, SMS messages and calendar functions without having to boot into Vista. This is a very much more energy efficient way of doing things, and it gives up to 53 hours of "standby" time with push email enabled, or 11 days with email disabled. If you want to use Vista, then the battery life is just 2 hours.. which is still pretty impressive.

So.. it's not really a phone and it's more than a subnotebook. We think that the HTC Shift is an interesting crossover device, perhaps similar in some ways to the Nokia N800 or the sadly cancelled Palm Foleo.

There are a couple of drawbacks, and perhaps the most obvious one is that the HTC Shift isn't the sort of thing that you'd want to use for voice calls, probably not even when using a Bluetooth headset.. but then the Shift is aimed at power users for whom it would make perfect sense to have a mobile phone too, remember that it only needs to be quite basic.

The other drawback is more serious - the choice of Windows Vista seemed like a good idea when the Shift was announced in the spring, but Vista has flopped badly in the marketplace and it's a complete resource hog. This isn't HTC's fault, but it's a shame that Vista's poor reputation might damage the Shift's chances. Of course, some enterprising person might find a way of porting Linux or even Windows XP onto the Shift which might prove a popular choice for hardware and software hackers.

HTC say that the Shift will be available from November this year, although no pricing information or carrier availability was known at the time of going to press.

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HTC Shift at a glance

Available:

Q4 2007

Network:

GSM 800 / 900 / 1800 /1900
UMTS 850 / 1900 / 2100

Data:

GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G) + HSDPA + WiFi

Screen:

800x480 pixels

Camera:

0.3 megapixels

Size:

Ultraportable subnotebook
207 x 129 x 25mm / 800 grams

Bluetooth:

Yes

Memory card:

No

Infra-red:

No

Polyphonic:

N/A

Java:

Limited

Battery life:

2 hours on Windows Vista
Up to 11 days on SnapVUE

 

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