The Flyer represents mobile phone maker HTC's initial foray into the ever-expanding tablet market. Released in May of 2011, the tablet departs from many of its competitors in some very important ways that some consumers may find worthwhile, but others may turn their nose at.
Considered a compact tablet, the Flyer features a 7-inch TFT LCD multi-touch screen that boasts a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels, which is fairly standard for its size. The display is bright and responsive, providing smooth video playback and true-to-life color reproduction. The body of the device is constructed of lightweight aluminum, which provides a protective shell and looks really snazzy at the same time.
While the screen seems to be a standard multi-touch display, the Flyer also integrates pressure-sensitive input via a pen-like stylus, allowing users to take notes, draw, and mark up documents. The tablet features HTC's proprietary Scribe technology that is fine-tuned enough to easily recognize handwriting or allow users to touch up photos.
Behind the snazzy exterior, the Flyer turns away from conventional tablet design again by running a 1.5 GHz single-core processor coupled with its 1 GB of RAM, rather than the 1 GHz dual-core processors at the heart of many of its competitors. The tradeoff may not have paid off, as the tablet feels somewhat underpowered at times. Tasks as seemingly simple as scrolling through menus in the user interface (UI) can be slow and choppy.
Another departure from the growing norm is its operating system. Rather than opting for Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) as many competitors have done, the Flyer instead runs a modified Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) operating system. The upside is that the system software is completely familiar to users of with HTC's latest generation of smartphones, and it can use all of the most popular Android applications. The downside is that the Flyer does not feature any of the Honeycomb-specific software that is optimized for the tablet platform.
Despite these key differences, the Flyer does feature many conventions that are pretty much standard in the tablet market. It includes built-in WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, 32 GB of internal storage expandable through an external microSD slot, a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera. The internal battery provides up to 4 hours of video playback, and a combination jack provides USB access and HDMI output to televisions.
Need to Know: HTC Flyer
1. The integration of pressure-sensitive digital pen input is a key feature that has been sorely missing from the tablet market. (The Good)
2. The tablet seems underpowered, making simple tasks such as navigating the UI feel like a chore at times. (The Bad)
3. The Gingerbread OS makes the tablet a bit friendlier to users already familiar with Android phones and ensures complete compatibility with the most popular applications available in the market. (The Good)
4. If an upgrade to Honeycomb becomes available in the future (as planned), users may find that many of their current apps do not function properly (or at all) under the new OS. (The Bad)