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HTC Flyer

:: written by : Ahammed Nisam ยป 12 - 01 - 2012

After introducing several noteworthy products in the smartphone arena, HTC has now entered the enticing tablet market. Bringing in the new tablet-oriented Sense UI, and coupled with a stylus known as the Magic Pen, the Flyer attempts to break the clutter of Android tablets.

First Impressions Frankly, I was a little excited to see what HTC had to offer in this new segment. Having seen it deliver products with a good mix of looks and performance before, I had high expectations from this tablet. Unfortunately, the Flyer let me down in the looks department.

Enveloped in a nice-looking aluminium unibody, the device curves gently at the back, which is edged with white plastic panels at the top and bottom. This makes it look rather tasteless. Moreover, the trio of unmatched colours make it look decidedly uncool. This is especially a pity since the Flyer is so expensive.

The top panel needs to be popped open to insert the SIM and external microSD cards (upto 32 GB). However, opening the top panel can be a very frustrating exercise, and the scratched plastic around the seams on the test piece we received is evident of a previous reviewers wrath. In fact, we actually had to use a screwdriver blade to lever the panel open. HTC really needs to do something about this, especially considering that the panel will need to be frequently accessed to get to the microSD card.

The Flyer isn't all that heavy for a 7" tablet, but feels that way since it's small enough to hold in one hand. This translates into clumsy one-handed usage whether you are trying to type a mail or read a book. In short, holding it in one hand is something of an exercise! In all fairness though, any device with a screen bigger than 4" is meant to be used with two hands.


If you weren't already struck by the thought that the Flyer looks an awful lot like a scaled-up Desire HD, booting into its familiar Sense UI will be sure to give you that sensation. HTC opted to build the Flyer's software atop Android 2.3, the latest in Google's smartphone stable, and not the tablet-oriented Android 3.0. In conversations with the company, we've heard that justified as a matter of expedience, as HTC didn't have enough time with the Honeycomb code to integrate its Sense UI paradigm and had to revert to the next best thing. The fallout from this decision is that using the Flyer is an inevitably similar experience to using an HTC Gingerbread phone, though we've come to find that's not a particularly bad thing at all.

Once you unlock your way past the greeting screen, eight homescreens literally spin into view. In spite of the increased 1024 x 600 resolution, HTC is still offering you a grid of sixteen discrete slots per homescreen, which can be occupied by apps, folders, shortcuts, or widgets. There's almost nothing here that you won't find on HTC's Android Gingerbread phones, which isn't a terrible thing in and of itself, but more widgets and programs optimized for the Flyer's size would have been appreciated. As it stands, it just provides an extremely usable, mostly responsive user experience that some will find all too familiar.

Animated and 3D graphics are really emphasized in HTC's latest UI. You're still gazing at the same old clock-and-weather widget as the one you saw on the Hero nearly two years ago, but now when you slide away from it, its homescreen turns away in a manner imitating a carousel and faux 3D elements are exposed in the "side" of that widget, lending it a bit more realism and luster. We don't know how to feel about HTC making the Flyer's interface quite so graphically intensive. On the one hand, it adds an extra layer of polish that makes use of the tablet feel modern and snazzy, but on the other, those flourishes do consume system resources without adding anything in terms of function. Worst of all, in spite of the Flyer being highly responsive in most circumstances, we found lag and stuttery animations creeping in on us after some extended use, which we're inclined to blame on the extra veneer of prettiness. We most often found the tablet slower than ideal when we were unlocking into an app, as it had to animate both the motion of that app icon and pulsating animation around the activation ring.

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