HTC Flyer – an initial thoughts review

One Mobile Ring has taken stock of the first tablet device from HTC, for an exclusive review and a few months before the Android device actually goes on sale in the UK.

HTC’s FLYER tablet arrives running Android ‘Gingerbread’ 2.3, along with the HTC Sense 2.1 overlay to the OS with a 7-inch display, a 1.5Ghz processor, HSPA+ and WIFI capabilities.

We thought we would approach this ‘initial thoughts’ review of the High Tech Computer Corporations Gingerbread tablet in a different way than usual. OMR has gathered all of the first impressions of the contributors to One Mobile Ring, all in order to compile a more rounded piece about the HTC Flyer – instead of just from one person’s perspective.

First up is ‘M’, who has noted the HTC 1.5Ghz tablet’s Sense user interface continues to impress in the version rolled out on the Flyer, whilst the overlay to the Google mobile OS delivers a cohesive aesthetic experience that other Android devices lack along with being highly customisable too.

M did notice a small amounts of a noticeable lag when moving throughout the UI, which wasn’t a deal-breaker although it doesn’t rival the responsiveness of the iPad.

The pen feature does appear to be rather gimmicky and at a time when highly accurate, multi-touch screens are becoming the standard on consumer electronics – this feels like a step backwards on a tablet.

HTC’s Flyer is locked down to just two orientations, which can feel a tad hampering at times. The white panels on back of device were already dirty on arrival which doesn’t bode well for regular use, where prolonged activity will only add to the discolouring of the tablet.

The ability to make a call is largely redundant on the product, due to not having a dialler screen although puzzlingly you can still call people in your contact’s list – which is highly confusing, to say the least.

HTC has rapidly become a dominant player in the mobile market by marrying quality hardware with unique interfaces, with experiences that distinguish themselves from the crowded market. Their first tablet was set to make waves once more, instead, HTC seemed to have taken the quickest route possible in order to steal some of Apple’s ever-expanding dominance of the tablet market. It seems that every other major electronics company are falling over themselves to get a tablet to market, where HTC has joined the rush but are unwilling to push ahead and instead are just playing it safe. This would not be such an issue were it not for the price tag matching that of its rivals’ offerings – the large majority of which boast vastly superior hardware and will be out within a very short time-scale of the Flyer’s launch. Something that frankly, HTC should be embarrassed about where we can’t help but feel a heavy amount of disappointment with the Flyer.

Following ‘M’s’ thoughts are ‘G’, who feels the HTC tablet is heavy in the hand and doesn’t feel all that nice to hold.

He also doesn’t see the point of the pen, but it works well if you want to scribble on the screen. This feature could be useful for taking notes or quickly jotting down numbers although there is nowhere to store the pen, so you’d have to always carry it around with you.

G likes the size of HTC Flyer, but if the iPad is a tablet then this along with the Samsung Galaxy tab are just big phones.

Viewing media and web browsing is brilliant on the High Tech Computer Corporation’s device. It’s fast and the screen size makes the whole experience worthwhile, where you could happily show someone a slideshow of photos or a video without them squinting just to see the media.

The UI is still the very familiar Android experience  seems to be taken straight from their recent spate of smartphones, where the new HTC sense is visually impressive and as always pleasant to look at.

G found that every time he used an application or two, for example the browser and then pressed the home button, the tablet would appear to quickly restart itself, before loading the home screen. When pressing the back button, it would take you in a continual loop of all the screens/pages you have been on – this could be down to the prototype we were using though.

The next One Mobile Ring member to see the HTC Flyer is ‘B’ who believes the tablet actually looks quite good, but you quickly realise it’s just really a giant phone. The screen doesn’t respond quite as well as you would expect, and the pen doesn’t make things easier. There was quite a big delay between contact and a pattern drawn on the screen coming into view. B does actually like the pen itself – it has a nice weight to it and looks good but upon contact with the screen it feels very unnatural; it’s just not accurate enough to use in any useful function that he can think of.

HTC’s Flyer is fairly uninspiring and has the same colours that as seen on the Desire and Wildfire phones, where it sits in between a proper full-sized tablet and a smart phone.

It’s not particularly quick either, where we’ve seen plenty of ‘deft’ touches already and B has barely scratched the surface of the Flyer in terms of content. The ‘friend steam’ is horrible and contributes to the self-indulgent nature of expensive, unnecessary gadgets and obsessive social networking – providing hollow sentiments to the point of human insecurity. The screen quickly becomes filthy and dirty, with scratches appearing even worse on the black outer-border that surrounds the screen.

The menu items are familiar, as are the settings to Android users. The camera allows for lots of various ‘Photoshop-style’ applications that contort and disfigure images, although they are quite fun to use. Personalisation options are full and plenty of bleeps, themes and sound settings to keep you occupied. B spent more time personalising it than actually using the features though with the biggest issue being the cost, at around 600 quid.

Lastly, is ‘C’ who has also noted the  restrictions to two orientations on the HTC Flyer due to the capacitive buttons that are located at the bottom and the left of the device, where the Samsung Galaxy Tab could auto-orientate to all four directions as the buttons remained fixed.

He found the stylus is a redundant feature, where you can make notes at any time but the stylus does not fit into or on to the device itself so it will get lost very quickly and you cannot use it as a selector; its sole purpose is just for the scribbling.

Although the device we saw was a prototype, it is remarkably slow to navigate in and around the screens. The screen is dull; on full brightness the picture is decent, but the image edges look soft.

There’s no dialling screen so you can only call contacts remember on the device. The Flyer should have video calling, but there was no clear way to get it to work, but this might be an issue with the device being a prototype.

C believes it suffers from all the cons that we’ve seen from all HTC Android devices, in that as nice as they are to use, they are boring to look at compared to Samsung or Sony Ericsson devices that have a style about them that is unique.

The attempt to differentiate itself from the HTC handset look is noticeable, unfortunately nice is about as descriptive as we can get in this example. Android is a very customisable OS which is a major plus and the screen size is very conducive for browsing and media.

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