HTC's Shift--A Small, Smart Ultraportable PC

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Features and Connectivity

The Shift's small size makes it an excellent traveling buddy; but it also bristles with useful buttons and other features. You get one-button access to a Communications Manager tool, from which you can control Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and adjust volume and brightness. Another button toggles between 800-by-480-pixel and 1024-by-600-pixel resolutions for the 7-inch screen. A fingerprint scanner is tucked into one corner of the display, and a Webcam pokes out of the other.

If you prefer to mouse around, you'll appreciate the stamp-size touchpad surface that lies flush against the right side of the screen; left and right mouse buttons sit on the opposite side.

The sides of the device accommodate a combination headphone and mic jack, an SD Card slot, a VGA port, and a single USB 2.0 port (our test unit came with an external three-port USB hub).

Considering the Shift's small form, the keyboard was of reasonable size: The keys were smallish for my meaty hands, but adequate to type on. The adjustable, tilting screen, helps make the Shift highly usable.

Photograph: Robert Cardin
As useful as the tilting screen is, I would have preferred a clamshell design that protected the touch screen better. The tri-fold leather case that comes with the Shift will provide some protection against scratches. The leather case was actually bolted to the Shift. According to HTC, FCC regulations require that the case be attached, to "protect the consumer." (That's a first.)

Though the Shift isn't a true cell-phone/notebook hybrid like the HTC Advantage (which has two OSs), the Shift is a great, but expensive mini-notebook for business and datacentric tasks. The high price tag may not faze business users, but it will make ultraportable-seeking consumers think twice.

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