I may have been a bit harsh on Microsoft regarding Windows Mobile 6.5, but the long time frame until release is extremely frustrating for someone like me who enjoys using Windows Mobile devices. While Microsoft stumbles through getting the operating system and services up and running, the manufacturers keep innovating and launching some cool products. We saw the rumored HTC roadmap and as I mentioned in that post the HTC Maple is one of the devices I am personally most excited about seeing released this year.
The folks at CNET Germany (Google translated page) appear to have further substantiated the rumored HTC Maple with some hands-on photos and initial thoughts on the device. The HTC Maple looks to take all the great things I love about the HTC Excalibur/T-Mobile Dash (did I mention my wife is on her 3rd one?) and make it even better.
The rumored HTC Maple appears to have a trackball like BlackBerry devices, larger and better arranged front QWERTY keyboard, non-touch screen (Windows Mobile Standard), Inner Circle functionality (groups business or personal contacts and status), and more. 2008 was the year of the touch interface and it is personally quite refreshing to see HTC working on a WM Standard device. I think these devices are more responsive, more stable, and work better as a mobile phone while still providing you with plenty of power for getting things done.
If you look at where my AT&T SIM card has been the last month, it has lived in my Nokia E71 and Palm Treo Pro. I honestly LOVE my Palm Treo Pro and keep going back to it due to its stability, 3rd party apps (Evernote, Google Maps, Live Search, FriendMobilizer, etc.), and functionality. It works like a non-touchscreen device, but gives me the full power of a touch screen device as well.
HTC hasn't yet announced or confirmed this device so we have no idea when or if we will see this launched or if it is just a prototype of some kind at this time. Let's hope the Maple does appear, particularly as a replacement on T-Mobile for the successful Dash.