for small and light turns up the nifty Shift,
-- albeit it takes some getting used to, especially typing
Alan Zisman (c) 2008 First published in Business
July 1-7 2008, issue #975
High Tech Office column
On our quest for small and
light “stuff” to take on the road, whether for business or pleasure,
last week we discovered UMPCs-ultra mobile PCs, such as HP’s Mini-Note
Weighing in around three pounds, with a nine-inch screen,
and priced between $500 and $750, it’s pretty capable as a scaled-down
In a case of small and smaller, HTC’s Shift X9501
pushes the ultra-mobile envelope still further, while adding a number
of features you won’t find on typical notebooks.
glance, it’s a 1.8-pound tablet, about the size of a stacked pair of
DVD cases, complete with stylus. Slide up the seven-inch screen, to
reveal a keyboard (69% of standard size). Continue to slide the screen
and it flips into a near-vertical position for typing.
the high-end packaging, the Shift is wrapped in a soft leather
protective cover, and is built around a magnesium frame with aluminum
The small size, however, takes getting used to; I found
it difficult to type on its scaled-down keyboard. The one-inch square
mini-touchpad, located on the side of the display, was surprisingly
usable, though. (Alternatively, you can just move your finger directly
on the touch-sensitive display, tapping with your finger to click.)
screen defaults to 800x480 pixel resolution; if you find that doesn’t
display enough, a button alongside the screen flips it to 1024x600.
Another button, for so-called Flight mode, instantly turns all its
communication functions on or off.
can boot the Shift into a fully functional Windows Vista Business
system, but a press of the so-called SnapVue button shifts it (get it?)
into scaled-down Windows Mobile mode, optimized to check e-mail, the
weather, time and more.
In fact, if that’s all you need, there’s
no need to wait for Vista to boot up – the Windows Mobile system (and
access to youre-mail) is instant on. Booted to Vista, you can use
standard 802.11 WiFi for Internet access or you can connect via Rogers’
high-speed HSPA data network if no WiFi hotspots are available.
Mobile data access is via Rogers only – and that’s why the HTC Shift is
being marketed by Rogers (for $1,600 along with a three-year contract).
Data pricing ranges from $50 per month for up to 50 MB usage to $100
per month for up to five GB usage.
Rogers is promising a software update to provide GPS in the near future.
think of it as a larger than normal smartphone, however. There’s no
voice access – though I suppose you could install something like Skype
and make voice over Internet protocol phone calls on Rogers’ data
network, and there’s a built-in webcam for video conferencing.
a BlackBerry, and unlike most notebooks, e-mail access on the Shift is
“push” – at least when you’re using SnapVue Windows Mobile interface;
rather than having to repeatedly check whether there are new messages,
new messages come to the Shift as soon as they arrive – at least if
your mail comes to a Microsoft Exchange server.
You can also easily
set up other standard e-mail accounts. The SnapVue interface is also
kind to your battery; in that mode, you can expect several days of
battery life, compared to a meager two hours of life in energy-sucking
While you won’t get much battery life, the 800
MHz Intel A110 processor, 40 GB hard drive, and 1 GB of memory is an
adequate platform for basic Windows Vista functions, including web
browsing – as long as you don’t have to type too much!
need right-now e-mail access on something bigger than a smartphone but
still easy to carry around (and if you have deep pockets) the HTC Shift
provides a professional-looking but still stylish package. •