HTC Shift, Lexmark X6575, TomTom XL, Nokia N78

HTC Shift
Price: $1,999

We were yet to see a bad product from phone manufacturer HTC before this. The ultramobile computer is turning out to be a much better dream than it is in practice, and this disappointing unit that doesn’t know what it wants to be is no exception.

The 20x13cm device has an intriguing form factor, beginning as a tablet and letting you ‘shift’ the screen away to fold up from the keyboard and behave like a miniature laptop. But the keys are tiny and the specs are too low for any real work.

The biggest let down however is that for this price you could get a full-sized notebook computer, and as mobile devices get smarter and more powerful, it won’t be long before they overtake the capabilities of the average UMPC. By then, the clumsy user experience will be the least of the HTC Shift’s problems. 1/5

Lexmark X6575
Price: $299

You can survive without a fax machine nowadays, but the Lexmark X6575 is a fully-appointed multifunction unit if you’re a small business operator or home user, though you’re paying around $100 more for the fax component. It has slots to print straight from all major memory and flash cards and you can also connect it to your PC via USB cable or wirelessly to you local area network.

The colour representation is good and both scanning and copying are high quality and easy. But where many consumer multifunction models have a large colour screen, Lexmark sticks to its tiny, black-on-white LCD display that’s not nearly as responsive. 3/5

Nokia N78
Price: $779

There seems to be two Nokias in the mobile market. One is concerned with function and usability, the other — manufacturer of the N78 — concerned with streamlined beauty.

The lack of anything outstanding besides the sexy design makes the Nokia N78 a passable but unexciting device. Too many functions (such as easy typing) are rendered difficult in the pursuit of cool, and despite up to the minute features like Maps, there’s little to get excited about. 2/5

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