So, HTC’s first tablet is finally here, and we know its name – the HTC Flyer. This tablet has been announced and demonstrated by HTC way back in February this year, and it looks very promising (both on paper and in reality).
On the outside
The HTC Flyer looks a bit like an oversized Desire HD or many other HTC phones, for that matter, with the same rounded edges and overall form factor. The housing is built out of one aluminum piece, with plastic inserts for the antenna and battery cover (just like the HTC Legend), which makes it very sturdy and pleasant to the touch. There are 10 capacitive buttons spread on two sides of the display: 2 sets of 4 Android navigation buttons plus one control button for the HTC Scribe feature (explained below) – for portrait and landscape modes, respectively (though I personally think they could’ve done away with only 5 or better yet, no external buttons at all, like the G-Slate).
The tablet has a very nice 7 inch, 1024×600 pixels LCD display, which is more than enough for most applications, and it provides something special that is guaranteed to make it stand out and increase the sales numbers for HTC and T-Mobile: a pressure sensitive pen experience courtesy of HTC’s new Scribe technology.
That is a pretty important step in the evolution of tablets, as now artists, reporters and other people who need this kind of functionality can have it at a very cheap price. And the whole experience is much better than any capacitive stylus you might’ve tried before – writing and drawing on the screen is very easy and surprisingly error-free.
Processor, RAM and Graphics
While the HTC Flyer isn’t dual core, like many would expect from a modern tablet (even the 7 inch Galaxy Tab has two cores), it still packs a lot of power thanks to the 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (second generation), Adreno 205 graphics adapter and 1 GB of RAM. That is more than enough for any kind of apps you might need to run. Having a faster processor also saves battery, as it can do everything faster and quickly return to its low power idle state.
There are 32 GB of built in Flash memory on the new tablet, plus the user will have the ability to add another 32 GB or more using an external micro SD card slot – this should be more than enough for most people, no matter what their occupation is – you could fill it up with hundreds of high quality pictures and still have enough space left for music, documents, movies and other files.
Other hardware specs
Of course, the HTC Flyer supports most of the standard technologies on a modern smartphone/tablet, including Wifi N, Bluetooth 3.0, assisted GPS, DLNA, HDMI out, support for HSPA+ networks with transfer speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps download and 5.76 Mbps upload, and much more. The battery life is not as good as it should be, though: there is a pretty big 4000 mAh unit, but the overall continuous work time will not be more than 4-5 hours of video playback or 7-8 hours of other kinds of tasks that require the display to be on. That may be enough for some people, but a lot of users will have to always remember to plug the tablet into a power socket whenever they see one.
The Flyer will be shipping with Android 2.3.3 preinstalled, which is pretty good, and an update to 3.0 Honeycomb is definitely possible, given that it’s a tablet. There’s also HTC’s custom skin and Scribe software, which is always active and can be activated via one of the two buttons on the front of the device. Another defining software feature on the slate is its support for cloud gaming and HTC’s Watch service for media streaming – but they’re both in their infancy, and there are other, better alternatives out there, for now.
Overall, the HTC Flyer is a pretty good addition to the tablet market, and is, for now, the only choice for those who need the ability to draw or write on the display using a stylus – and there’s a lot of people who do and would rather have a cheap small Android tablet than a big and heavy Windows slate or convertible laptop. The device will be available this summer, so don’t miss the chance to check it out!