It seems that HTC has actually hit most of the sweet spots geeks worldwide were looking for. Perhaps this was a fluke, or perhaps intentional, but no matter how they came about their design it has definitely caught the attention of many. I for one have never seen such a flurry of emails come into my Inbox regarding any other product – and that’s saying a lot. From the moment Engadget released info I was pinged from Australia, New Zealand, England, India, China, United States, Spain and Germany. (NO JOKE!) So without further delay I will post my thoughts as per the request of many.
There are still a few grey areas about the HTC device but we have started to see a lot of details emerge. At this point we know a couple of things that I find positively exciting:
- It will run Glass
- It has a 7” Wide-touchscreen
- Slide out Tilt Keyboard
- And a massive array of connectivity options.
When I look at Glass I am not “that” excited about the fact that we will be able to see behind floating Window panes. What I am excited about however is that being able to run Glass means that the Shift must also pack a really nice graphics card in it. If it does do this then productivity via such a device will become a little easier. The first thing I will do when I get one is turn off Microsoft’s Glass effect and let the Shift graphics card calculate more important algorithms like assisting with load-baring on the CPU and multitasking too.
The Wide touchscreen has some clever advantages, and you only have to spend 5 minutes with the ASUS R2H to know this. One of the benefits of “wide” for me is how it interacts with Microsoft Office and the clever zoom feature incorporated everywhere. “Wide” allows users zoom and utilize as much screen real estate for each application as possible.
For me the slide out keyboard by far is the biggest winning feature on this device. When in Redmond last week I held a Medion UMPC and regrettably it struck me as heavy and awkward. The weight however is not what I mean when I say “heavy”; it’s actually the weight distribution. Because the keyboard slides the monitor up and away from the user it is implied, by manufacturers like Medion, that a user will use the keyboard with their thumbs. Sitting next to Craig Pringle I witnessed something very different and intuitive to him in that Craig tried immediately to touch-type on the Medion instead of dealing with the top-heavy body under his thumbs (very clever). This insight got me thinking that the slide out keyboard is still not the solution we are all waiting for…until The HTC Shift that is.
If you look at the slide out keyboard on the HTC device you will notice that it also tilts and lays flat on the workspace in front of the user. Therefore the implied usage is that of a touch-typist as opposed to that of a SMS-ist! The one thing I hated about the 7” Medion UMPC was this top-heavy weight distribution model they had adopted. It is almost ridiculous for manufacturers to expect this to work. I think HTC has done a great job of this concept and time will only tell if they have pulled it off or not. Interestingly it will come down to the action on the keys and the physical layout too.
The one thing this blog would like to comment on but cannot is the Pen and Touch features of the device. This will be a sticking point for me given that not all touchscreens are the same. If you haven’t done so you might want to watch my video review of 5 UMPC. You will quickly catch up to speed on my thoughts.Overall the device, at this point in time, has to be rated as a 7 or 8 out of 10 for proof of concept. It addresses a lot of issues and does so in a very compelling fashion.
Until I get my hands on one I will not know for sure just how much fun is in the function but I will let you know if I find out. If I were Medion I would be very concerned about my future UMPC sales. If I were OQO I would be very happy as the OQO 02 will probably appeal even more so to the funkier SMS-ist while the HTC UMPC will probably capture Mr. and Mrs. Touch-Typist.
As a closing note - will Hugo shift? I'm leaning more to yes than no on this one; and if you've followed my blog for more than six and a half minutes you'll know I nearly never recommend before testing anything. Oh! And on a side note, how good is the name!!! Endless marketing possibilities.