I’ve been using the Shift this morning and felt some thoughts were in order.
Sorry about the poor photo, the BlackJack II camera is crap
I popped my SIM card in for some high-speed data, and it is just so damned convenient! As soon as Vista starts up I have full internet access, wherever I am. SnapVue really is a great feature, being able to instantly access calendar items and email without having to boot Vista is wonderful.
Quite a surprise was the usefulness of the tiny thumbpad on the right side of the screen. Most people don’t realise it is a fully-functional Synaptics touchpad, which includes scrolling!! Widening the scrolling area of the touchpad makes it really good for scrolling through web pages. And despite the reviews I have read, I quite like the touchpad for controlling the mouse. With a little bit of practice, it’s useful.
Performance is one of the areas that the Shift has taken the biggest pounding in reviews, so I wasn’t expecting it to be any good at all. Using the Shift extensively today I never experienced any slow downs, crashes or general unresponsiveness, even with Aero Glass turned on. It certainly wasn’t the fastest Vista machine in the world, but neither did I find it painful to use.
Here at home tonight I connected the Shift up to my 22″ Widescreen monitor, at the full 1680×1050 resolution, along with my Apple BT Keyboard and Logitech MX900 BT Mouse, all of which it handled admirably. Performance still seems fine, and you have the benefit of a nice big keyboard, mouse and screen.
One thing that is a bit disappointing is the display. And by that I don’t mean the brightness or the colour, because both are fantastic; I’m talking about the resolution. 800×480 is just pathetic, and certainly not enough for running Vista. To get around this, HTC have added a simulated 1024×600 mode, that essentially squeezes the higher resolution onto the 800×480 display. It looks a little blurry, but everything is still clear and easy to read. Doesn’t excuse cheaping out on the display, especially when you look at that…
…price tag. Yep, the other big issue with this device. Here in Australia the Shift is around $1800, which is a colossal amount of money for a device like this. Samsung have stuck a 1024×600 display in their new UMPC, so there is no reason HTC couldn’t have done the same. There is also the battery life issue, and yes it isn’t great. I got less than 3hrs of Vista use, consisting of mainly web surfing over HSDPA with the screen on half-brightness.
Will post more updates when I’ve had it for a bit longer.