Review: HTC Flyer
Excellent bang for the buck.
Excellent stylus implementation; Good display; Superb performance; Decent battery life; Well-priced.
Design resembles HTC Radar; Looks tacky at the back; Lacklustre camera.
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.
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 reviewer's 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.
Measuring 7.6" (l) x 4.9" (w) 0.5" (d), the Flyer is not the thinnest of gadgets. It is noticeably thicker than the iPad 2 and Samsung GALAXY Tab, but that's only because it has lesser space to pack the hardware into. A totally unnecessary ridge on the bottom plastic cover adds an additional few millimetres to an already bulky design. Thankfully, the back is curved, making it appear slimmer.
The screen is nice and bright, with great colours and contrasts. The pixel dimensions of 1024x600 are great for the 7" LCD screen. The outdoor visibility is amazing and colours look almost natural, even when the screen is placed directly under sunlight. Its broad viewing angles are an added bonus. On the flipside, the screen is not scratch-resistant, and worse, is an absolute fingerprint magnet.
The leather cover the tablet comes with is classy-looking, thanks to its pristine white colour. Small criticism here - there is no space to put the handsfree. So you will still be left stuffing your pockets.
Horsepower And Performance
The Flyer genuinely flies, and its touch experience is quite smooth. Moreover, it handles multitasking with a breeze. No surprises there, since it packs a punch with its 1.5 GHz processor and 1 GB RAM.
HTC has introduced its Sense UI 2.1 for tablet with the Flyer. The new interface is well-integrated with Android Gingerbread 2.3.3. However, I would have loved to see HTC's spin on the Honeycomb, even though it's been primarily designed for screens bigger than 7".
The Flyer is packed to the hilt with all kinds of apps that a tab generally offers, and then some. I pushed the Flyer to its very limit while testing, and it took a very long time to hang or crash. The lag was almost negligible while switching from one app to the next. Lastly, its touch response was smooth and quick. Keep in mind though that if you open too many apps, the OS will automatically close the oldest app in order to free up memory.
Bizarrely enough, you cannot use the Flyer on all four sides, which is a little archaic in a time when it's difficult to tell which way is up in most tabs. The HTC logo appears on the top bezel in portrait mode, whereas the camera takes the spot in landscape mode. The Home, Menu, and Back buttons appear on the bottom bezel in both modes, letting you know how you're supposed to hold the device.
The Magic Pen
The product offers a unique stylus in the pack, known as the Magic Pen. This is a full-aluminium, pen-sized stylus that is comfortable to hold. HTC has integrated the capabilities of the Magic Pen with the tablet in an almost seamless fashion. You can doodle on pictures, write notes, and take screenshots with it. You can even pick different styles (pen, highlighter, marker, eraser, etc) and colours from the palette, which can be activated through a small icon on the bottom-right corner of the bezel. There are two tiny buttons on the Magic Pen, used for highlighting and erasing respectively.
While the primary function of the Pen is to take notes, it can also be used to scribble notes in the margin and highlight text, while reading a book, for instance. While limited in its scope, it's certainly a lot of fun to play with. If drawing and painting is your favourite pastime, or even your profession, the Magic Pen is definitely a value-add for you.
Popcorn And Pics
The media player exceeded my expectations, with sharp, clear visuals and very good audio playback. The loudspeakers are pretty powerful in the Flyer. They are smartly placed on the top right and left of the device in landscape mode, resulting in a nice stereoscopic sound effect.
The 7" screen is perfect for watching most movies and TV shows, and the huge storage capacity of 32 GB will ensure that you have plenty of timepass. Video playback supports the major mobile formats plus WMV, AVI, and XviD. It also plays HD videos in 720p and 1080p. Finally, audio playback supports all major formats.
The camera on the HTC should have been good, considering it's has 5 MP on the back and 1.3 MP in the front. However, the amount of noise is unacceptable, and pictures captured indoors look blurry. It supports 720p video recording, but the quality isn't impressive.
Battery Life And Verdict
The Flyer houses a mammoth 4000 mAh battery, which is a good thing. With moderate use, the battery lasted from the start of one day to the end of the second. Even with heavy use that included 30 minutes of video capture, then two hours of Angry Birds, followed by two back-to-back movies, and wrapping up with using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi while running the music player on in the background, the battery lasted for over 12 hours. That's impressive by any standards, all thanks to the massive battery.
The Flyer offers a great Android experience with its snappy performance. It handles multimedia with ease, and its display is also impressive. On the flipside, the camera is lacklustre and the design could have been better (especially that damn top cover). Having said that, at Rs 24,000, the Flyer is a great deal for tablet lovers. Moreover, its stylus makes the deal even sweeter. If you like tablets, you'll just love the Flyer!
Design And Build Quality: 3/5
Value For money: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
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