Consumers can finally get their hands on America's first 4G phone, the HTC Evo 4G from Sprint Nextel. Starting today, customers can purchase the Evo at retail stores, online from Sprint and through RadioShack, Best Buy and Wal-Mart retail outlets.

The device will cost $199.99 with a two-year service agreement and after a $100 mail-in rebate with a new line activation or eligible upgrade.

HTC Evo 4G features the increasingly popular Android platform, Android 2.1, a 4.3-inch touchscreen, simultaneous voice and data capability in 4G or Wi-Fi coverage areas, a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, an 8-megapixel auto-focus camera with an HD-capable video camcorder, and a forward-facing 1.3-megapixel camera.

Sprint has been touting the Evo's ability to act as a personal Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices. The optional service costs $29.99 per month.

HTC CEO Peter Chou yesterday was on hand at The Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital conference to talk about the Evo, among a host of other topics.

According to a live blog of the interview with The Wall Street Journal's tech guru, Walt Mossberg, Chou was asked about the Evo's poor battery performance, a common problem with many of today's high-end smartphones.

"We understand that if you’re a heavy mobile user, the battery is a concern. The Evo’s battery is removable – not like the iPhone," Chou said, possibly implying that users carry an extra one. "We are trying to innovate here. We’re aware of the problem. I hope someday this won’t be an issue."

When asked whether HTC would be dabbling in the increasingly popular tablet space, Chou stressed that his company is currently focused on smartphones.

"We’re very focused on smartphones today. We’re focusing our business on mobile operators. However, as an innovator, one of our defining characteristics is to create new technologies. So in our labs, we’re developing new devices like the HTC Shift," Chou said but didn't elaborate on what kind of device the Shift was.

Sprint currently offers 4G service today in 33 markets. By the end of 2010, the carrier expects to launch 4G service in multiple markets, including, but not limited to: Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

More Broadband Direct 6/04/10:

•  Comcast kicks up World Cup coverage with 3-D
•  TWCBC hooks up school district with Metro Ethernet
•  Cogeco unleashes D3 in parts of Quebec
•  Cox Virginia promotes Allen to VP of operations
•  Dish makes its HD package free
•  Investor gets 2 seats on SeaChange board
•  Clyburn defends Title II net neutrality
•  Evo 4G hits stores
•  Report: The whole world isn't ready for LTE