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CES 2009

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Intro Sony Ericsson INQ Motorola Nokia HTC  

The only new HTC phone on site was the new HTC Shadow. (Not the Shadow II, just a refreshed version of the Shadow.) In many respects, the new verions is almost identical to the original, but it's really not.

HTC Shadow  

The Shadow is a slider. The size is pretty much unchanged from the original. It is not too small, not too large. The weight is nice and the materials feel good. It is comfortable to hold and use. The slider mechanism works well, and slides up smoothly with no looseness or play in the hinge. The display is large, bright, and has great resolution.

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The D-pad feels like it has been somewhat revised. According to the HTC reps we spoke to, most of the Shadow's innards have been improved. That means a faster processor, more memory and so on. The result is a much more responsive phone. The original Shadow had a noticable lag when you tried to use the scroll wheel to interact with the menu system. On the new version, there is no lag at all. Everything works much faster and smoother.

Speaking of the user interface, it is nearly identical. It is a Windows Mobile Standard 6.1 phone (an upgrade from WinMo 6.0), but it does not use HTC's TouchFLO. Instead, it has a vertical carousel. The carousel items hold different items such as Internet, Messaging, Calls, etc. Once one has been selected, you can slide sideways through a number of different selections in each menu item. In messaging, for example, this means switching between text messaging, the inbox, email, IM, and so on. This UI is a lot more repsonsive than the original Shadow, and that makes the whole experience better.

The Shadow's SureType-esque 20-key keyboard offers an experience similar to the RIM BlackBerry Pearl. There are two letters per key, and the phone's software figures out what you're typing as you go. It was solid and I didn't notice any weird errors as I typed out some test messages. The keys have nice contour and are distinct as you pass your thumb over them. They are coated in a soft-touch paint job. I found the 20-key layout very comfortable to use and I was able to peck out messages very quickly with few, if any, errors.

HTC has done a great job updating the Shadow. With the improved processor power and memory, it is a solid improvement over the original.

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