Thursday, March 29, 2007

Will Hugo Shift?


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.

22 comments:

Elo said...

Hugo Shift!

I love it! Shift itself would make a great magazine or blog name too!

Thanks for your insights on this Hugo. My impressions are teh same as yours. If tehre ever was a UMPC design I was waiting for, this is it. HTC has also made my next phone on teh same design as the Shift : the Kaiser.

The only thing I am praying for is the integration of active digitizing. Imagine if the Shift had it... Revolution, I say!

Now, HTC must send you one. You showed the world the Fujitsu P1610, I think it would only be fair that you showed us all the Shift!

Anyone at HTC reading this ?

Hugo Ortega said...

HI Elo,

As usual you and I are on the smae wavelength. The Kaise looks like a great QWERTY phone one that appeals to me too.

Let's see if HTC reads my blog and sends me a World's First Look!

Dave said...

you see its about now that i wish i waited all of 2 weeks for this product!!! still... cant complain..i LOVE my r2h!


Dave - Posted using a pen on my R2H

Hugo Ortega said...

Hi Dave,

I don't think waiting two week will help you. This one is due out no earlier than Q3 2007. :-(

R2H rocks, this one we still have too many unanswered questions!

Robert said...

I think this will be my next UMPC. The only thing it seems to be missing is built-in GPS. If this were coming out with Verizon Wireless EV-DO options I wouldn't blink an eye before ordering one. 3G in the US is practiccally non-existent.

Imagine this paired up with the HTC Advantage. That would be a killer mobile office.

DP

Hugo Ortega said...

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the comment. I'm leaning towards yess also on this device. I really need to feel the functionality before I say yes for usre but it seems to tick a lot of the boxes.

So you like the overall package (albeit bar GPS) but what is it exactly that makes this so appealing to you?

I favor this style keyboard for the benefits it brings in weight distribution. I really want to see the touch/pen experience though.

Cheers

Robert said...

Well from the mobile device standpoint I like it for ability to work without a specialized stylus. Eve if I lose the stock stylus I always have a finger or something with me that will give me access. A toggle between the two states is possible but it would bring the price-point way, way, up from the theorized $1500USD.

AS for the keyboard design I'm a 2-finger typist so as long as the Shift has a QWERTY keyboard that is comfortable on a flat surface I'd get along just fine.

Hugo Ortega said...

Cheers Robert, great feedback! I think in short you've managed to capture the essence of where UMPC is going today. Touch-typing on these devices, I believe, will be futile. It will be two fingers on a flat surface (as you described) that will best interact at this level. My article also presents this as a positive case in benefit "The Shift".

Thanks again

Birger said...

Here in Northen Europe we are also awaiting the Shift. In the meantime im testing the ASUS R2H
i got the new one with a mobile processor and 1,2 gb ram. I hate Vista it makes it so difficult to alter. Does anyone knows how it reacts to cold. I need to use it
in 150 distribution trucks and im worried about its toughnes !
I would hate to by 150 UMPC only to see the Shift being launched two weeks later, on the other hand i need to be up and running with all the trucks by october.

Hugo Ortega said...

hello Birger,

This is an important comment and I thank you for jumping on this blog to discuss your options. WR the R2H I would find it hard to recommend it in so many vehicles with such varied environments. the device I ould go for would feature a SSD (Solid State Disk) and would definitley be more rugged. In this case I would take a serious look at the SunPad. It ia rugged, light, larger screen than the R2H and ships with SSd standard. It takes up less room and provides you with the ability to future proof your money slightly by giving the trucks a tougher device.

You might also want to consider the TufTab by TabletKiosk. If you want to stik ith the ASUS then jsut make sure you mount it prperly with the RAM mount solution available. last thing you ened is these flying around the cabin of a truck when the driver brakes hard - or even in a crash.

If you need more help email sales @ tegatech dot com dot au

Anonymous said...

Does it have gps?

vincenzo said...

Hi Elo,

looking forward to get a Shift here in Italy !
I had different speculations about the WM / Vista sharing: do they actually see each other (via network for example) ?
Provided they switch real-time, will Vista stand-by or just redirect I/O, or what ? Your nice video suggests that Vista goes to sleep, othewise power drain would be much higher. In this case they could not communicate in any case (which sometimes could be useful).
Is it correct ?
Congratulation, linked to my blog.

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