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HTC unveils quartet of mobile devices

The updated Touch Dual tries to overtake the iPhone, while the P6500 aims for deployment in the logistics and healthcare fields
By David Meyer, Contributor on
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1 of 6 David Meyer/ZDNET

High Tech Computer, or HTC, is the most prolific manufacturer of Windows Mobile devices, although most are rebadged by the various operators it supplies.

On Monday, the company announced its lineup for the fourth quarter of 2007. ZDNet.co.uk went to west London to see the latest in Microsoft-compatible handset hardware, as unveiled by HTC's president, Peter Chou (pictured above).

Although Chou described HTC as a "very low-profile" company, he revealed that it had already shipped 800,000 units of its consumer-friendly Touch handset in Europe and Asia since its launch in June, a result he described as "better than we expected".

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2 of 6 David Meyer/ZDNET

The biggest announcement at Monday's launch was that of the Touch Dual, a sequel to the so-called "iPhone killer", that has the added bonus of a slide-out keypad.

HTC's vice president, Florian Seiche, announced Orange as the first pan-European operator to carry the Touch Dual (it will be free of Orange's £35 per month tariff), but suggested that other operators would also be offering it soon.

Asked whether HTC's inclusion of a physical keypad on the Touch Dual was an admission that users are not happy with using their touchscreens to dial numbers, Seiche claimed that it was in fact designed to "offer as broad a choice as possible to the customer", and enabled "more opportunities for those who still feel comfortable with a physical keypad".

Seiche also revealed that operators will be given a choice between 10-key and 20-key versions of the Touch Dual. A soft keypad for the original Touch device will be made available via download for those who have already bought that handset.

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The Touch Dual also features some enhancements to the original Touch's user interface. Of particular note, given the advent of Apple's iPhone, with its pinch-action image-zooming functionality, is HTC's own method of zooming in — a simple circular motion with one finger zooms in or out, depending on whether the motion is clockwise or anti-clockwise.

The updated Touch also boasts HSDPA connectivity, which is much faster than the Edge-centric original. Asked whether Edge (which also provides the main connectivity for the iPhone) was enough these days, Seiche claimed that "for a lot of customers, Edge is fine".

In a tangential announcement, Chou also revealed an "Arctic silver" version of the original Touch, due out by Christmas.

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The Touch Dual was not the only device launched on Monday. Also announced was the HTC P6500, which is designed more for the mobile enterprise than the tech-savvy consumer.

The chunky, HSDPA-compatible handset boasts two SDIO slots and between 256MB and 1GB internal memory, as well as an auto-focusing 3-megapixel camera. However, it also has built-in GPS and can scan fingerprints and barcodes, so HTC is pitching it at everyone from delivery companies to hospitals and the police.

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The HTC Shift, which will be made available SIM-free at an eye-watering €1,199 (£835), runs on Microsoft's much-derided Vista operating system, although it will also be possible to use Windows XP. HTC claims that using the device, which has a seven-inch screen, in full Vista mode will result in a battery life of three to four hours.

The device weighs 800g and incorporates HTC's own push email system and the company's SnapVUE information-access shell, the use of which will push the ultramobile PC's battery life up to two days.

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6 of 6 David Meyer/ZDNET

Last but not least, HTC has announced an update to its popular S710 phone, the S730. Like its predecessor, the S730 includes a slide-out Qwerty keyboard in addition to its traditional mobile-phone keypad, but this new version upgrades the device's data connectivity from Edge to HSDPA.

The S730 and Touch Dual will be available from later this month, but those hankering after the Shift or the P6500 will have to wait until November.

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