HTC, a long-time smartphone and Android OS veteran, has decided to join the tablet wars with what could very well be the best secret weapon the Android camp has been waiting for. The HTC Flyer is touted to be “a tablet like no other.” There are many reasons why this may be the case. From the outside, its aluminum unibody design and gross weight being less than that of a paperback book serves as a good start. It’s 7” screen, although often criticized by the Apple camp as being a “tweener” too large to be a smartphone but too small to fit in with “proper” tablets, seems to fulfill its job fairly well.
HTC's Flyer Tablet with their proprietary "Sense" UI
HTC launches back against such accusations with its claim to have properly ended what they call the “player not supported” dead-end. This subtle retort is a slap in the face to Apple whose second generation iPad, the iPad2, still does not support Adobe Flash. Even if the Flyer doesn’t win the war on its own, the very fact that a number of vendors competing with the iPad2 have recognized Flash to be a de-facto standard in the web world may ultimately spell the end of Apple’s reign as champion.
Another noteworthy feature adding credibility to their “tablet like no other” claim is the somewhat surprising fact that it comes bundled with a “magic pen” reminiscent of a stylus used in the old days. This pen is no gimmick though. It leverages new Scribe Technology that empowers users with the ability to draw, paint, write, sign and even retouch pictures. It even functions as a highlighter, with highlights becoming collated once the user is finished.
The pen also allows the user to create personal web invitations, adding hand-written notes to web pages before forwarding them on to friends and colleagues. Users can notate books, comment within documentation, sign contracts and add any other scribbles they may wish to record for future use. It allows one to synchronize photos and videos taken at the exact time their corresponding notes were created, too.
While the ability to use one’s finger with today’s capacitive touchscreens is definitely a step in the right direction, many users who still remember the Palm Pilot era will welcome the return of a stylus, especially when it comes to creating signatures and other drawings that just don’t quite look write when using your index finger.
The Flyer currently ships with Android 2.4 Gingerbread which, as far as the end-user is concerned, isn’t much different from it’s 2.3 predecessor. They claim it wasn’t shipped with 3.0 Honeycomb due to not having enough time to customize it to work with their Sense technology. A recent official announcement on Twitter indicates that a Honeycomb update will be available in Q2 2011.
The unit’s tech-specs are as follows:
- Operating System: 2.4 Gingerbread with Sense
- Processor: 1.5 GHz single-core
- RAM: 1GB RAM, 32 GB flash storage
- Display Size: 7.7” x 4.8” x 0.52” (195.4mm x 122mm x 13.2mm)
- Weight: 420g (14.82 oz) with battery
- Screen/Resolution: 177.8mm (7”) with 1024×600 resolution
- Camera: 5 megapixel rear, 1.3 megapixel front
- Connectors: e.g. 1 micro-USB, 1 microSD card, 3.5mm Stereo jack
- GPS: Yes
- Sensors: ambient light, G-Sensor, digital compass
- Wireless: Wi-Fi IEE 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP
- Network: HSPA/WCDMA, GSM/GPRS/EDGE, 3G