The HTC Shift X9000 is here, finally

The CDMA version (runs on Sprints EV-DO network) of the Shift has finally landed stateside and Amazon has it on sale for $1,500. Check out Laptop’s video review above or get all the gritty details here. If you just want the final verdict then we have that for you, too.

The Shift X9000 is a valiant first effort from HTC. It provides the best surfing experience of any UMPC, and we prefer the design of this device to both the OQO model 02 (whose smaller 5-inch display requires a fair amount of zooming) and the Samsung Q1 Ultra (which has an inconveniently split keyboard). SnapVue technology also gives the Shift X9000 an edge over the competition.

The keyboard still isn’t as good as what you’ll find on 7-inch notebooks that cost $1,100 less, and the somewhat sluggish CPU sometimes has a hard time keeping up with Vista, especially with multiple applications open. And you’ll definitely want to spring for a second battery (once that becomes available) if you’ll be using the Shift X9000 away from the office frequently.

For a couple hundred dollars more than the Shift X9000, you can get an ultraportable notebook like the MacBook Air, with a full-size keyboard and much faster CPU, provided you prefer a larger 13-inch display and don’t mind toting an extra pound. Or for $50 less than the Shift X9000 you could get the Asus W7S-B1B, which is even faster but weighs an even heftier 4.3 pounds.

Ultimately, the Shift X9000 is a tweener. It doesn’t have the speed or ergonomic comfort to be your primary PC, and $1,500 is a lot to spend on a secondary machine. Most mainstream consumers will be happy with a Linux-powered laptop like the Eee PC that costs less than $400, or they may want to wait for Windows-powered models hitting the market later this spring from Asus and other brands that will cost less than $600. Nevertheless, well-heeled executives who are sick of squinting at their smart phones may be won over by the Shift X9000’s instant-on push e-mail, speedy mobile broadband, and responsive touchscreen.