Though many reviewers have concluded that the HTC Shift falls short of expectations and/or is a poorly executed great idea, you’d literally need a crowbar to pry the UMPC from my ever-tightening grasp.
I’ve already touched on its well-documented shortcomings and shared some unexpected facts about the slide-and-tilt unit, so there’s no need to remind me why so many think the Shift is overpriced and underpowered. Besides, even with all of its blemishes, I still wouldn’t be able to give it up. In fact, recently I learned that I’d rather live with a defective component than send it away for repair. The thought of being away from my Shift for even a few days is just too much to bear.
You see, a few days after I installed Vista SP1, I noticed that the audio stopped working. I don’t use the Shift for multimedia purposes enough to pinpoint exactly when the speakers and headphone jack stopped emitting sound, but since they worked when I first set up the X9500 and SP1 was the last update I installed, I just assumed the service pack was to blame.
After I double-checked the driver status (up-to-date and working properly), I did a system restore and rolled back to right before SP1 was installed. The process took about an hour and despite the horror stories I read while waiting, everything went smoothly.
The only problem was that the audio functions still weren’t working. Accepting that SP1 wasn’t to blame, I googled and googled and ultimately decided to reset the Shift to its factory state. Aside from temporarily losing SnapVUE functionality, which was easily regained with a hard reset, the experience was painless . . . except the speakers and headphone jack still weren’t working.
My husband and some friendly fellows at the xda-developers forum said that there was probably an issue with the audio amp. Since cracking open the Shift wasn’t an option for me (I’m not a surgeon), I emailed HTC and was told to contact the HTC RMA Center.
So I had two choices: send it off to HTC for what I assume would be weeks or live with a mute Shift. I chose Door #2. Of course I wanted a 100% functional UMPC but given my usage, the problem was incredibly minor. During the past month of owning the Shift and using it daily, I had only used the speakers to watch about three or four YouTube videos. The functionality, then, wasn’t something I needed.
That was my rationale, anyway. The truth was that I didn’t want to be without my Shift. Since unboxing it last month, I honestly haven’t been able to put it down. I haven’t wanted to put it down. It’s so easy, so versatile, and so much fun to use that I officially declare the HTC Shift X9500 as my hands-down favorite UMPC. It is the fifth UMPC I’ve purchased, the thirteenth UMPC I’ve reviewed/extensively used, and the one I like best.
It isn’t the best UMPC ever made in terms of specs, performance, and battery life, but it’s the best one for me because:
- I can do everything I currently do on my Vaio TZ notebook with little compromise (less than with my other UMPCs)
- I love the form factor and included leather case (unattached to unit, see unboxing for photos)
- I’m impressed with the interpolated 1024 x 600 resolution
- I find all of the usage modes (slate, laptop, UMPC) comfortable and useful
- I can type faster on its keyboard than on any other mobile device
- I’m spoiled by the built-in 3G WWAN (with unlocked SIM card slot)
- I’m satisfied with how Vista performs on its Intel A110 CPU
- I liberated SnapVUE and am enjoying full Windows Mobile 6 (still waiting for SD card slot and wi-fi recognition)
- I adore writing about it, which is something that can’t be said of all UMPCs
- I smile every time I look at it (cheesy but true!)
Even though I’ve sworn off 7-inch devices more than once and struggled with my decision on whether or not to buy the Shift, I am incredibly pleased with my choice and a very happy owner.
Oh, and guess what. After installing five optional updates that appeared in Windows Update yesterday (SP1 hasn’t been offered to me since the factory reset) and were unrelated to audio components, my sound is back! I have no idea how or why, but the speakers and headphone jack are both working again. Maybe the Shift was just testing my devotion.