New cell phones disguised as computers

You can see from the photo that the Shift runs on Windows Vista but don't be completely fooled — it's really a cell phone at heart.
You can see from the photo that the Shift runs on Windows Vista but don't be completely fooled — it's really a cell phone at heart.HTC

Taiwan’s HTC manufactures great Windows Mobile smartphones. In the United States, their handsets are sold by cellular companies under their own names, like the T Mobile Dash, Cingular’s 8125 or Verizon’s XV6700.

But HTC’s full corporate name is High Tech Computer Corp. — and that means they don’t feel constrained to manufacture only little cellular handsets.

So, even before this week’s Cellular Telecommunications & Internet expo begins here in the land of orange groves and Disney World, HTC was busy making some interesting non-cell phone announcements.

First, a new device that HTC calls the Shift. It has a cell phone inside — but it’s a full-blown portable Windows Vista PC — about the size of two DVD boxes stacked on top of each other. 

The Shift has a cool 7-inch widescreen touch display, a 30 GB hard drive and a slide-open QWERTY keyboard that you can actually type on. Shift is bigger than mini-laptop offerings from OQO and FlipStart but a whole lot smaller than standard or sub-compact laptops you’re familiar with.

But the big deal here is what's inside. Shift sports 3G tri-band UMTS/HSDPA, quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, Bluetooth 2.0 and Wi-Fi connectivity as standard equipment. Basically, that means you’ll be able to connect your computer to anything — anywhere on the planet. That's cool.

The Shift will be available sometime this fall in the United States and Europe. Prices and dealers have not yet been announced but I’d expect HTC to be competitive with other laptops and mini devices. 

On the other hand, the HTC Advantage looks like a mini, mini laptop except that it runs on Microsoft’s brand new Windows Mobile 6 operating system. (More about WM6 when CTIA begins on Tuesday.) It has a 5-inch VGA touch screen and a super-thin, magnetically attached QWERTY keyboard. is a Microsoft-NBC Universal joint venture.

Connectivity is similar to the Shift’s.  It also comes standard with tri-band UMTS/HSDPA, quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, Bluetooth 2.0 and Wi-Fi.

But in this case, the surprise is its storage capabilities. In addition to the miniSD card slot, Advantage comes with an 8GB hard drive, 256MB of ROM and 128MB of RAM. HTC threw in a 3.5mm stereo audio jack for good measure.

So, the Advantage is a well connected cellular device with a whole lot of storage. Like its big brother Shift, neither of these two devices is made to be held up to your ear, but they can be used with a headset or as a speakerphone.  And of course, with all the high-speed wireless connectivity options, either device will be very cool additions to a business travel warrior’s tool chest.

HTC hasn’t announced a price for the Advantage either but they are promising that it will be available on sometime this summer.