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HTC Shift Review

written by: Shanna James•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/18/2011
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The HTC Shift is an ultra-mobile PC with a large touchscreen, a slide-out keyboard and laptop orientation. UMPC’s (Ultra Mobile PC’s) have been in development for over two years.

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    The HTC Shift

    HTC Shift package 

    HTC Shift snapvue 

    What happens when you cross a smartphone with a laptop? There are those which are ultra slim and others which are similar in design to handhelds sans keyboard. HTC has just entered the UMPC market with a nicely designed and compact device, the HTC Shift. The Shift bridges that gap between mobile phone and pocket PC.

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    Design

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    HTC Shift full 

    HTC Shift tilted 

    The HTC Shift measures 8.15 by 5.08 by 0.98 inches in height, width and depth, respectively. It features a 7-inch diagonal touchscreen which takes up most of the device’s face and has several shortcut or hotkey buttons on the screen’s bezel. A half inch trackpad on the right side of the device enables mouse interaction and two select buttons are on the opposite end.

    Above the trackpad is a button which corresponds to the Communication Manager. In the Communication Manager users can toggle the wireless LAN, modem, Bluetooth, volume level, brightness and push email settings. A button below that allows users to toggle the screen’s resolution between its default 800 by 480 pixel to a 1024 by 600 interpolated orientation.

    On the face of the HTC Shift is a fingerprint reader and 1.3 megapixel webcam. There is also a button which allows users to toggle between the Windows Vista Business OS to a Windows Mobile interface.

    The HTC Shift also features a QWERTY keyboard which slides out from the bottom of the device and acts as a stand for the device to stand upright at a tilt. The screen can be folded to sit at a wide range of angles on the keyboard resembling a small laptop. The keys may seem a bit challenging because of their small size due to the laptop’s already small frame. The device is covered in a stylish gunmetal grey and weighs 790 grams.

    Below the battery is a 3G/HSDPA SIM card slot which allows the device to connect to the world wide web virtually from anywhere. Also on the rear of the device is a 3.5mm headphone and D-Sub video port. The D-Sub video port allows video and audio to be transferred to external devices.

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    User Interface

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    HTC Shift open 

    HTC Shift snapvue interface 

    The HTC Shift is available with both Windows Vista Business or a Windows Mobile-based interface also called SnapVUE. The latter boots faster and offers fast access to the contact list, calendar, local weather forecasts, SMS messages and Outlook email.

    This system does not allow for the addition of applications which may be rather limited for some users. Some users may switch to Windows Vista Business edition for more options.

    In SnapVUE mode the interface is very basic. It features access to the PC’s more basic functions. It is similar to the HTC smartphone interface but rather supersized. The screen showcases the time, a calendar, the battery level and signal meter as well as other icons. Along the sides are several shortcut keys. The settings menu features several configurable options including the communication manager, GPRS settings, device information, Lock button and Storage clear option.

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    Features

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    HTC Shift keyboard 

    HTC Shift side The HTC Shift features a 40GB hard drive which makes it perfect for storing files, movies and music (there's a 60GB version too). Video playback on its 7 inch display is clear, vivid and bright and loads quickly. It also features handwriting recognition software which functions very well. For people disappointed with the size of the keyboard this unique feature is a much easier method of inputting information.

    The fingerprint reader on the front of the device is a great security addition. It is especially important if third parties may come into contact with the device. It enables users to lock certain files. The feature also makes it unnecessary to log into the device which makes booting and using the system very fast and efficient. The HTC Shift uses a TPM or trusted platform module which makes it even more difficult to hack and gain unauthorized access to private files.

    The HTC Shift also features SnapVUE which switches the operating system to a cut down version of Windows Vista called Windows Mobile. Even while Vista is off or in sleep mode pressing the dedicated key will launch Windows Mobile.

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    Performance

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    HTC Shift back and battery 

    The HTC Shift runs at a maximum frequency of 800MHz and has 1GB of RAM. As a result the Shift may seem laggy at times as Windows Vista Business requires at least a 1GHz CPU and 1GB of RAM. It features a 945 chipset and a graphics adapter, the Intel GMA950 adapter. Perhaps not the greatest specs HTC could have come up with.

    The HTC Shift can run uncharged for two hours while using the Windows Vista Business OS and up to 2 days using SnapVUE or Windows Mobile.

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    Verdict

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    The HTC Shift is a truly portable device but its lack of power behind the Windows Vista Business OS is a great letdown. It has a very touch friendly display and interface, a great keyboard and additional handwriting recognition software. Most users will be familiar with the interface. It is small, lightweight and a great portable PC device. The HTC Shift can be purchased at www.expansys-usa.com for $475.