Sunday, August 12, 2007

(HTC) Shifting My Direction?

I just caught the video Hugo Ortega of posted of the HTC Shift, and of course, I've caught the excitement. I am enamored of the Ultra-Mobile PC platform and the Windows Mobile platform; putting both operating systems on one device and including HSDPA capability makes it heart-poundingly sweet, indeed! Ever since I purchased my Asus R2H in December, I've been saving up for the next great machine; as I watched Hugo do what all the GBM guys do so well, I began to wonder if this was where I was headed next. In fact, I liked the idea so much that I actually considered -- gasp --  not buying a new machine this year, so that I would have enough saved up to get it by this time next year; I'm not under any illusion that the price will be low enough for me to be Shifting responsibly in 2007, and there's another consideration, which I will mention later.

This is not to say I don't have my reservations. Hugo reports that, (like most other UMPCs, it seems) the Shift has a lightweight touch screen. As he stated, one would have to be careful to only rest the palm against the bezel to avoid vectoring, but this means that interaction with the fingers is a breeze. My R2H has a heavy screen, which allows me to rest my hand on the screen when writing and even usually accidentally brush a digit against the LCD without the device noticing. This makes for a great inking experience; but this means the device is less responsive when you use your fingers to interact. As I am mostly a pen/stylus person, HTC's digitizer choice is disappointing for me.

Like the Raon Digital Everun, the Shift can accept a sim card and use HSDPA. The ability to always be connected without having to tether to my mobile phone is so extremely alluring.I have several issues here, though. The first is that, unlike the Everun, the Shift has no voice capability. Ok, so no one wants to hold a 7" computer to her head to talk (not even me, at least not more than once), but what about Bluetooth or wired headsets? The second issue is HSDPA. I'm an EVDO user. Since I'm not willing to have more than one mobile carrier, in order to fully utilize the Shift, I'd have to leave the only mobile service provider I've ever had. Unless Sprint change some terms of service on me again, or unless I become a pesky user, I'm locked into a contract for ten more months. My current phone, being CDMA, won't work, so I'd have to get another; the functionality I require from my mobile phones mean I will almost certainly not choose anything that is free with a new contract, so that is added expense. Of course, I am pretty sure I'll be buying a new phone, anyway. I don't really have a desire to become an AT&T customer,though, and not just because the right data plan would probably cost a lot more than I'm paying now. Even with the concerns I have, the Shift is very tempting. I want to replace the R2H with something that's got a better processor and better performance when running Vista; since the kind of digitizer I want seems rarely implemented, I may not have the option of holding out for a good Inking experience. I'm also ready to get away from the 915 graphics that Intel disowned like an embarrassing heir. Even though I rarely use a keyboard, I still want the option. And finally, being able to choose between Instant-on and complete PC functionality is, well, a dream come true. At any rate, I'll not allow myself a new UMPC until I've had the R2H for a year, so we'll see what happens, come late December.