HTC Flyer Strengths
- HTC Flyer is well built and sturdy with slightly bulkier dimensions than the Galaxy Tab – and a touch heavier. Feels comfortable and reassuring heft when held.
- HTC Sense user interface is fun and attractively designed.
- 7-inch tablet format is highly portable – it’s the right size to slip into a jacket pocket. It’s also easy to hold in portrait mode and type quickly with your thumbs.
- Touchscreen is very good giving strong colours. It’s responsive, sharp and bright, and doesn’t loose much contrast when viewed from more extreme angles.
- Doesn’t current run Android’s latest build Honeycomb so is effectively running a smartphone optimised version of Android rather than the version designed for tablets. The HTC Flyer runs Android 2.3 – also knows as Android Gingerbread. HTC have taken the Android operating system and put their own skin on top of it so it looks like a different user interface to other Android tablet operating systems. The layer is called HTC Sense which is attractive and playful, quick to respond and an improvement on basic Android. The operating system was originally designed for smartphones but modifications make it better suited to a tablet.
- Magic Pen (check if your package includes this or you need to buy seperately) – the stylus available for the HTC Flyer differentiates it from other tablets as HTC have designed some apps specifically for it to take notes and annotate documents. It generally works well but can be tricky to use for fine detail.
- The stylus is designed for highlighting eBooks and taking notes (although handwriting recognition is not supported). You can write on the user interface on any app and the notes are saved on an image file. The stylus is responsive, intuitive to use and accurate. There’s also a note taking app which has additional functions to save pictures, text and audio recordings with your notes. Great for recording new ideas when you think of them or for researchers and students.
- Processor is relatively nippy although not as powerful as the processors in the latest Android Honeycomb tablets that are at a similar price point - Motorola Xoom, Acer Iconia, ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. It generally provides a speedy performance but struggles occasionally when put under pressure with multiple apps open at the same time as streaming online video.
- Good web browsing capability - processor is quick to render pages. The email app also supports tabbed browsing so you can open a handful of pages at the same time and quickly skip between them.
- Supports Adobe Flash so you get access to the range of online videos, animations and games that are built using this technology.
- Apps – The HTC Flyer also features HTC’s video store where you can buy or rent films. There’s an email app provided that is customised for this tablet so you get a list of emails and a preview of the selected email. An eBook reader is also provided with access to an eBook store. There’s also live gaming (check if this is available in your location) and gallery apps.
- Supports Wi-Fi on the base model and you can pay a bit more and buy the HTC Flyer with 3G connectivity. If you’re just on the Wi-Fi-only version you can get online by attaching to your home Wi-Fi network or by finding a Wi-Fi hotspot when you’re out.
- If you upgrade and buy the HTC Flyer with integrated 3G you still get the option of Wi-Fi but you can also get a mobile data contract from a mobile/cellular provider that will allow you to slot a SIM card into the HTC Flyer and connect to the 3G data network. You can even send text messages on the Flyer over 3G. The HTC Flyer also allows you to use a 3G connection to create a Wi-Fi hotspot that you can then tether other Wi-Fi enabled devices to.
- 1.3-Megapixel front-facing WebCam allows you to make video calls with services such as Skype providing you have an Internet connection.
- 5-Megapixel rear-facing camera so you can take still images and high-definition video, and then annotate them with the stylus if you want. However, this camera is not comparable to a digital camera – images produced are blurry and of poor quality particularly in low light conditions. Videos are also soft with poor sound quality. It’s better than no camera, but only just.
- 32GB or 16GB options of internal storage for files depending on what model you buy. There’s also a microSD card slot so you can buy a cheap microSD card, slot it in and extend the tablet’s memory. This gives you more space for storing movies, pictures, music and other files.
- Micro-USB slot is provided for charging via a mains adapter or for hooking to a USB port on your desktop or laptop PC to charge or to load files on the tablet.
- GPS sensor for use with mapping applications along the lines of SatNav.
- The HTC Flyer case is included in price and has a slot to hold the stylus.
HTC Flyer Weaknesses
- Not the most stylish with white plastic mixing with the grey aluminium back and a black bezel.
- Runs an older version of Android so an operating system not optimised for a tablet. When you switch to using apps not designed specifically for the HTC Flyer the experience is not good. The majority of Android apps are designed for smartphone-sized screens so don’t scale well on this larger screen format. This leads to stretched blurry icons or just big empty gaps on the screen. The HTC Flyer in left in limbo as it can’t access apps specifically designed for the tablet-optimised Android 3.0 and the only tablet apps designed specifically for it are the handful from HTC. HTC have promised an upgrade to Android Honeycomb (3.0) soon. Anyone who already owns a HTC Flyer will be able to download and upgrade to the new version, and this should improve the situation.
- Poor battery life – just 4 hours of continuous video playback. Tablets are designed to be mobile computers and this battery life doesn’t give you much time before you’ll need to find a power source to recharge it. The current crop of Android 3.0 slates are delivering 8-10 hours in comparison.
- Currently expensively priced in comparison to other tablet computers. Prices are likely to be forced down to become more competitive.
- No full-sized USB port, only a mico-USB port so this restricts your options to get files on and off the HTC Flyer via a memory stick and there’s no way of attaching peripheral devices such as a printer, mouse or keyboard. Most of the new Android tablets give you this flexibility.
- No HDMI port to output video onto your high-definition TV. You can get an adapter for the miniUSB port to output to a HD TV but these are currently hard to come by. There’s no other easy way to hook it up to your TV and watch what is on your tablet screen, on a big TV screen. HDMI ports are present on most other tablets as they provide the facility for storing or downloading movies on your tablet but then watching them on a big screen.
HTC Tablet Review – HTC Flyer
Android tablets need a differentiating feature to stand out from the huge number available on the market. In the HTC Flyer’s case this is an intuitive and accurate stylus input option which makes it a great choice for anyone looking to take notes in conjunction with text, pictures and audio. If you’re looking to capture ideas, work on creative projects, complete research or studying, this is a killer feature.
The HTC sense interface does a good job of enhancing the user interface and making Android more intuitive. The 7-inch format makes it highly portable – much more than carrying a 10-inch tablet around with you.
The real problem with the HTC Flyer is the range of available apps designed for smartphones. Although the Sense interface adds to the stock Android phone interface on the original Samsung Galaxy Tab or any of the 7-inch tablets, Android has now moved on. We really need a 7-inch Android 3.0 tablet to be comparable to the very latest 9- to 10-inch tablets such as the Motorola Xoom, Acer Iconia or ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. It’s also expensive currently, lacks a USB port or video output, and doesn’t have a great battery life.
In summary then, the HTC Flyer has some flaws but you should consider it if you’re a niche consumer in a creative or educational field who could benefit from the note taking function. Currently, if you want a 7-inch tablet, a Galaxy Tab would best it for most other users as the function is more-or-less comparable at a lower price.
Image Source: HTC