HTC Advantage Goes for Mini-Laptop Look

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Fans of palmtop mobile computing may already be familiar with HTC‘s Athena mobile device, combining Windows Mobile with a mini-laptop-like form factor and QWERTY keypad designed to appeal to those for whom entering text via a numeric keyboard is not an option. The device seems to be going through a little bit of an identity crisis—HTC has just redubbed it the HTC Advantage X7500—but it still packs a wallop of features sure to attract the attention of many techno road-warriors.

The HTC Advantage is meant to combine high-speed mobile broadband with mainstream computing and productivity options aimed at business users—and, in many cases, eliminate the need to carry a traditional notebook computer. The HTC Advantage sports a QWERTY-style fold-out keyboard and a 5-inch 640 by 480 touchscreen LCD display making the whole unit resemble a sort of mini-laptop. Set up with Windows Mobile 5, the unit offers mobile versions of Microsoft’s mainline Office applications, as well as Internet connectivity, push email, and compatibility with enterprise management solutions. On the connectivity front, the HTC Advantage offers a myriad of options, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and both 3G HSDPS/UMTS broadband connectivity (2100 MHz in Europe, 850/1900 MHz for the U.S. market) and quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE capability. (Oh, did we mention the built-in GPS receiver and TomTom Navigator software?) The HTC Advantage also carries an 8 GB internal hard drive, manages removable storage via miniSD or a USB sync cable, claims up to 8 hours of battery life…and carries two cameras: a 3 megapixel shooter for your snapshots, and a second VGA-resolution camera for video conferencing. Of course, the HTC Advantage will happily serve as your music player (AAC, WMA, MPC, WAV, etc.) and offers video output for presentations and other large-screen needs.

The HTC Advantage will launch in Europe on T-Mobile (under the “Ameo” name—the identity confusion seems to be ongoing), with availability coming this March in the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Poland; HTC plans to launch non-Ameo versions in selected countries. No word yet on pricing, or whether the HTC Advantage will make it to North America under any name—but you have to figure they’re planning on a U.S. version, given the HSPDA/UMTS capabilities of the device. In the meantime, HTC has put together a spiffy product site to tantalize potential customers.

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