In my previous post I gave a tour of the HTC Shift. I promised to explore, among other things, what it is like to actually use the device.
One thing I quite like about the HTC Shift is that it is designed in such a way that it is very flexible. There are three main ways in which you can use this device.
Firstly you can use it as a slate. Like most slates this has the advantage of actually being usable while you are standing up and moving around.
The next option is to slide the screen up to expose the keyboard and use it as a thumb board. This is a little cumbersome compared to other thumb boards, but it is usable.
The third option is to put the device on a hard service and tilt the screen up, making it more like a laptop.
The video below explores these three modes.
Some questions I have had sent through about usage are below - with my answers in blue:
What is the screen like compared to the Q1 Ultra (or even the Q1)?
Similar - the screen is clear and viewable indoors. The screen is not an outdoor viewable one, and the screen is hard to read in direct sunlight.
How long does the battery last under normal conditions? In Vista? in WM6?
My experimentation here has been limited due to the short time I've had the device. I've not tweaked the power settings at all, but at default it gets about 2 hours when using Vista for browsing and feed reading over wi-fi. When I hibernated Windows Vista and left the device with Windows Mobile and push email the battery only lost 4% points of charge over 6 hours. This leads me to believe that the battery life if you use Windows mobile exclusively will be measured in days.
How solid is the keyboard/screen mechanism?
It is easy enough to use but firm enough to support the weight of the screen at any viewing angle you should choose.
How useful is the touchpad?
It works well enough, but I don't tend to use it much. I personally find it easier to just touch the screen. One thing I did find odd is that it does not work in the Windows Mobile OS. This seems a waste as WM does support using a mouse.
How useful is the WM6 component in reality?
I'll talk about this more in my next post.
How well will it work with voice applications such as Skype?
I did not try it, but I recorded a screencast on the device and the audio from the microphone seemed fairly good. I would think that it would work well, though bear in mind that cellular networks such as HSDPA are usually quite latent and this can impact your voice experience.
I'll be interested in how the battery life is as well as the ease of text entry if you are holding it with both hands.
Battery life as above. Yes you can use it holding it in two hands - using the keyboard like a thumb board. As thumb boards go it is a fairly sizable one - and that can make text entry a bit cumbersome.
...the biggest question I have is regarding the battery life as I am considering a shift to replace my laptop. I have a desktop computer at work but regularly leave the office, travelling the country a fair bit and would like to know if the Shift could really satisfy my mobile needs?
It would depend on what you are wanting to do with it. If you are primarily thinking of email then using Windows Mobile the battery life is stunning. If you are wanting to use Vista for extended periods then the battery life could be an issue. It is worth noting here that the power brick is quite small.
The Shift is designed as a secondary device - to be used in conjunction with a "real computer". At this it excels because you are actually getting a secondary device and a tertiary device in the one package. I often say that mobility is all about having options. Therefore a good mobile device needs to be a multi-tool. Your Leatherman is not likely to be the best pair of pliers, knife or corkscrew you could own, but the fact that you have more than one tool in the same compact package is useful in and of itself.
The Shift is the same deal. The screen is ok for reading emails and browsing the web, but it can be a bit small for working on a large document, video or images. There is of course a VGA port so you can always plug in a monitor. Similarly the keyboard is neither a great keyboard or a great thumb board - but it can be used as either and that is powerful. And of course there is a USB port - so you can plug stuff in.