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HTC Flyer review

 Review: June 2011  

Rating: 3 stars

In a nutshell: The HTC Flyer is a compact tablet with a 7 inch screen.



The HTC Flyer is the third tablet for us to review (the others were the Apple iPad 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab), and it's the most expensive, retailing at around £600 sim-free. So it had better be pretty damn good. HTC claim that it's "a tablet like no other", but in our opinion it's actually very similar to the Samsung Galaxy Tab, with a few minor additions.

The Flyer is almost exactly the same size as the Galaxy Tab, although it's slightly thicker and weighs more. But it does have a more polished premium feel to it, so we can easily forgive that. It has the same size screen - 7 inches - with the same pixel resolution too.

Inside the case, the hardware is rather more powerful than in the Galaxy Tab. The processor runs at 1.5GHz, which is significantly faster, yet doesn't match the power of the dual-core processor in the iPad 2. There's 1GB of RAM available, which is more than its competitors, giving the Flyer the edge when running very demanding apps or heavily multitasking. The Flyer also comes with 32GB of built-in storage, plus a microSD card slot that can accept memory cards up to 32GB, for a total of 64GB storage.

Now, in many ways, the Flyer is like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but there's one thing that certainly does differentiate it: the Magic Pen. This is a stylus that can be used to operate the touchscreen. It's quite an advanced stylus, being able to apply variable amounts of pressure. The pen is an active device, communicating wirelessly with the tablet and can be turned on and off using a special button. There are two more buttons that let you highlight or erase text on the screen. You can use the pen to take handwritten notes for example, or you can add notes to a photograph or text documents. Some people may find this invaluable, but to be honest we quickly got bored of the pen.

The Flyer is equipped with Android 2.3, rather than the tablet-specific Android 3.0 use on the Motorola Xoom. In practice, that's not a problem, especially since HTC have added a tablet-specific version of HTC Sense. This adds support for the pen and also enables some apps to take advantage of the larger screen size available.

The cameras on the Flyer are rather better than most tablet cameras. On the rear is the main 5 megapixel camera with autofocus, which takes high quality shots. We're never going to be taking a lot of pictures on a tablet, as a device this large just isn't made for photography, but at least the Flyer is more compact and manageable than the iPad 2. There's a second front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera, which can be used for making video calls. Both cameras can record video at HD resolution. An app called Snapbooth lets you apply silly effects to portraits of your friends.

Media support on the Flyer is pretty good. There's a new feature called HTC Watch, which gives you access to movies. Audio quality is better than average through the stereo speakers, and you can connect to headphones via the 3.5mm socket. A wide range of audio and video formats are supported, including AAC, WMA, 3GP, MP4, AVI, WMV and XVID. There's no video output though, unlike most other tablets.

The battery is the same as the one used in the Galaxy Tab - 4000 mAh - but initial indications are that the battery life is less.

Although the HTC Flyer looks and feels like a premium product, it doesn't deliver value for money. It's a mystery why it doesn't share the dual-core processor of the HTC Sensation, and it's a shame that it doesn't use the latest Android version 3.0 for tablets. The pen is a unique feature, but not one that has much appeal for us. Given the high cost of the Flyer compared with other tablets, it gets the thumbs down from us unfortunately.

HTC Flyer features include:

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Average rating from 2 reviews:

Reviewed by Timothy from Australia on 8th Jan 2012
Absolute rubbish never buy it

Reviewed by Franklin from Scotland on 23rd Oct 2011
I had been originally been shopping for a bookreader but found the dedicated Readers to be very poorly back-lit. I bought this HTC Flyer (16gb) whilst overseas. I find the Flyer to be of very high quality. The Android Gingerbread operating platform performs very smoothly, ably supported by the 1.5ghtz Snapdragon processor. The Flyer does it all...beautifully. Not only is the Reader App smooth, it offers a variety of reading scenes, which compensate for varying reading conditions. Then of course, there is everything else : wifi capability is impressinve as are the media options. Very good transfer and rendition of avi/other movie media files. Being familiar with Android mobile, the Flyer seems a logical progression. Incredible range of Android Apps via Market. I find the 7" tablet very easy to use in landscape mode for email/text, using both thumbs. I concede that the UK retail price is rather high (479), though at $320 in California, it was irresistable and certainly far better value and infitely more versatile than any book-reader. For me, the key element is portability...the Flyer readily fits an inside-jacket pocket. A smooth and beautiful performer. If price is not your defining factor, the Flyer would make a very nice choice.

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