I took this photo to give readers some idea of just how small the HTC Shift really is. No, that isn’t a giant comedy mug next to the unit, but an average sized one such as most people have in their kitchen.
The unit weighs just 800g and has a 7in touch screen, specifications comparable to an ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) such as those from OQO or Samsung. But the Shift is better thought of as an ultra-petite laptop; it has a full qwerty keyboard, and the screen slides back and tilts into a configuration just like a typical laptop when opened up, as you can see. It even has a mini touchpad, the dark square to the right of the screen.
The Shift is actually two devices in one. Turn on the power, and it boots Windows Vista. However, it has a second environment called SnapVue that can be activated at any time by pressing a button next to the screen.
This allows access to email, calendar and contact information - even when the main unit is shut down - and also lets users send text messages via the Orange network. The second photo shows the main SnapVue screen (apologies for the slightly blurry quality of the image). The beauty of this is that you can quickly check your email without waiting for Vista to boot up, and this also saves on battery power.
My first impression is that the Shift really struggles to handle Windows Vista, although I found the display a pleasant surprise and easy to read for such a small sized panel. The keyboard is also too small to type at any speed, and the battery is unlikely to last for more than a couple of hours.
Nevertheless, the Shift is much easier to carry around than a full-size corporate laptop, and could quite easily fit into a briefcase without weighing down an executive’s carrying arm. With Wi-Fi and 3D wireless built-in, users can stay connected from virtually anywhere.
Microsoft Office 2007 is bundled with the unit, so those who absolutely must have access to Office applications (including Outlook) while travelling should find the Shift worth evaluating. A full review of this system will appear in a future edition of IT Week.
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