It seems the rumors surrounding HTC’s new device codenamed Athena are true. HTC’s anticipated entry into the ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) market have been spotted on the web. HTC admitted last month that it’s investigating the ultra-mobile PC arena with plans of moving into the market some time next year. This early web posting of Athena adds weight to the company’s own admission that it could release a UMPC-like product as early as 2007.
The move would certainly be a logical one for HTC, which last year launched Universal, a 3G PDA phone handset with a fold up and rotate 640 x 480 display and a QWERTY keypad. HTC has also produced handsets with slide-out QWERTY keypads. Any of these designs could feasibly be scaled up to UMPC size by adding a powerful, low power consumption CPU. This would give consumers a solid alternative to the likes of the OQO and Samsung’s Q1, which is why Samsung has recently expressed their interest in the UMPC-phone market.
What’s most interesting about this new device is the detachable keyboard, which allows users to choose whether they want to take it with them on the road or leave it behind. HTC has also opted to use Windows Mobile instead of XP. An anonymous tipster tells us the design is very nice, but the magnetic stand is unstable on anything other than a hard surface and you can only use the keyboard with your fingertips, no thumbs.
With the CES around the corner you might be hoping for an immediate release. Word from our HTC contacts indicates there will be no product announcements at the show. We will keep you updated on Athena as more details become available.