Announced at Mobile World Congress earlier in the year, the HTC Flyer is the Taiwanese company's foray into the ever-expanding tablet market. Packing a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon processor, 7-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, front-facing camera for video calling, and Bluetooth 3.0, it's a feature-rich device that should appeal to mainstream buyers. The potential Achilles heel? It's running Android 2.3 (with HTC Sense), placing it behind a crop of competing tablets that are running Honeycomb, Google's latest mobile OS and one that's optimized specifically for tablets.
Available in a Wi-Fi-only flavor from Best Buy now, the Flyer will also be arriving on Sprint as the HTC EVO View 4G later in the year. I've spent the past few days doodling, taking notes, and otherwise fiddling with the HTC Flyer and its unique "HTC Scribe" tech, and here's what I've found out thus far:
- The HTC Flyer is one of the smaller tablets on the market. Weighing in at 420 grams (14.82 ounces), it's thin and light enough to throw into a back pocket (as long as you don't sit down). Tablet screen size preferences are a matter of personal taste, but I find the sweet spot to be 8.9-inches (think LG G-Slate). While 7-inches is pocketable, it's just not enough to get the job done.
- Flyer ships with Android 2.3 and HTC Sense 3.0, though HTC has promised an update to Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) in the future. Sense 3.0 offers some improvements over past versions of the custom UI, namely a revised homescreen, new transition effects, and some slight changes to the notifications bar.
- The unique feature of the tablet is HTC Scribe, which is a comprehensive technology that allows the user to take notes and draw on the screen, among other things. Additionally, the Flyer has full functionality with EverNote, so notes can be synchronized in the cloud. I like HTC Scribe, but in the battle between "Android 2.3 with cool on-screen drawing tech" and "up-to-date tablet that's running Honeycomb," I'd still side with the Honeycomb option.
- In order to take advantage of HTC Scribe, you'll need a stylus, which isn't included and costs an extra $80. Overall, Scribe is implemented well, but I find it to be a novelty that will wear off for most consumers as they become accustomed to the tablet. It's not accurate enough to take notes with (highlighting and doodling/circling is about it), and after a few days of use, I found myself missing the enhanced browser features and some of the other goodies in Android 3.0.
- The 5-megapixel shooter lacks a flash and overall picture quality isn't going to wow anyone, but shots were relatively decent provided that the lighting was adequate. The 720p-capable camcorder, on the other hand, did a decent job. Video quality was good, and audio quality was
- Flyer has a 4,000 mAh battery, and with moderate use that included emailing, downloading apps, surfing the web, taking pictures, and using HTC Scribe, the battery lasted just under three days. Pretty impressive.
Stay tuned for more on the HTC Flyer, and be sure to check out the unboxing below!