Friday, December 07, 2012

HTC Shift X9500 Review (Classic Edition)

If you’ve been following this blog for sometime, You’ll know that I have this affinity for dead / rare / obsolete gadgets. So this time, I was able to get my hands on the precursor and victim of tablets - the HTC Shift X9500.

Posting to share some insights on this Ultra-Mobile Personal Computer (UMPC) a.k.a the Origami Project. The HTC Shift (now a phone) was released on 2008 and actually predates the original iPad.


HTC Shift X9500 Technical Specs

  • Operating System: Windows Vista / Windows Mobile SnapVUE
  • Display: 7" display 800 x 480 Active TFT resistive touchscreen
  • CPU: Intel A110 Stealey CPU 800 MHz (for Windows Vista) / ARM11 CPU (for SnapVUE)
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM (notebook mode) 64 MB RAM (PDA mode)
  • Graphics: Intel GMA 950 graphics
  • Storage: 40/60 GB 1.8” HDD
  • Input: Slide-out keyboard / Pen Stylus
  • Others: USB port/ SD card slot / Bluetooth / Fingerprint reader
  • Phone: Quad band GSM / GPRS / EDGE

Read on for the full review and more photos (bandwidth warning for those with slow connections)


Unboxing the Shift

Unboxing the HTC Shift clearly shows that it’s a premium device. The box itself is wrapped in a classy packaging with special not run-of-the-mill cutout foams. HTC also included extra niceties like the cool hard leather case, earphones, soft case for the power brick.


The HTC Shift comes preinstalled with Windows Vista. It also dual boots into SnapVUE, or to be easily understood, Windows Mobile 6.1. It can actually make calls and send SMS by fast switching to Windows Mobile 6.1 activated by the button below the Windows Vista sticker logo on the left. Despite Vista’s reputation of being laggy, it wasn’t present here. In fact, Windows Vista seemed faster than Windows 8 when I tested it, probably due to driver compatibilities.

Notable Features

  • It can make calls with SIM card slot behind the battery
  • Touchscreen albeit resistive
  • Has a slide-out keyboard and stylus
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • VGA out for external displays or projectors.
  • Quite decent speakers for its size

How’s Windows 8?

Having a touchscreen, I decided to install Windows 8 Release Preview on this bad boy and surprisingly it performed well. This guide from was really helpful with securing the necessary drivers and steps to make Windows 8 completely work. 

However I did encounter one issue with the resolution. You see, Windows 8 requires a minimum of 1024 x 768 resolution for Metro apps to run (desktop mode is just fine) and HTC Shift only supports 800 x 480. Fortunately the Intel GMA Graphics Driver for Windows 7 supports a force resolution bump :) but text will be small and not that sharp as opposed to using the native resolution.

Pen is good, but don’t expect smooth 10-point multi-touch on this thing. It’s resistive technology, the grand daddy of touchscreens.


So before cool people had their iPads and Surfaces, way cooler people were rocking a portable full-Windows computer on their bags and purses (Take that Windows RT!) VGA port, USB slot and pen support too! (take that Galaxy Note!)

But with every cool thing, there will be drawback and for this it will obviously be the battery life. This thing only lasts for 2.5 hours. Pretty useless for being a portable machine. It runs a full Windows Vista on 800 mhz, so unless it can defy physics, it will really suck a lot of power, even from Vista’s Aero alone. Fans also tend to spin and get loud as the machine gets hot from a non-ARM CPU

Good thing to have back then I’m pretty sure, but by today’s standards, the HTC Shift would have to be relegated to the dead, old and obsolete category together with the rest of UMPC’s – even netbooks.

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