The lucky lovelies over at pcdebolso.com managed to acquire (let's ask no questions) a pre-production HTC Shift for five days, and proceeded to examine it both from the perspective as a compact, Vista-running UMPC and as a large, Windows Mobile-running PDA. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the Shift although impressive doesn't manage to succeed 100% in both categories; what is surprising, though, is that it appears HTC have made some bizarre concessions which in certain cases render the Shift less useful than a far cheaper device.
Vista, it seems, has been HTC's main priority, and in that capacity the Shift functions as expected. With an 800MHz processor and 1GB of RAM it's never going to be accused of running too fast, but the 40GB drive is healthy and the screen - running at a native 800 x 480 - clear and bright. What's less impressive is the PDA flipside: the Shift runs a pared down version of Windows Mobile 6 that doesn't even take advantage of the VGA screen, chopping off the sides with black bars (as in the image above). Similarly bizarre is that while in WM mode the only connectivity method is HSDPA - Bluetooth and WiFi, accessible to Vista, fail to show up in the connectivity manager. That means you could be in your office, surrounded by rich, syrupy WiFi, yet unable to connect because cellular signals don't reach you.
Of course, it's possible that one or more of the confusing decisions HTC has made will be changed in the production version; as it is, the Shift looks to be a passable UMPC but not the dual-mode, best-of-both-worlds device we were initially promised.