Our HTC Flyer Android 7" tablet arrived today, courtesy of HTC, and it will hit Best Buy stores on May 22 for $499. This tablet is for you HTC fans who love their Sense software that includes very useful widgets, social networking integration, strong MS Exchange support and more. In fact the Flyer has a customized experience for eBook reading, note-taking and HTC's own movie and TV download and rental service. It's also the first Android tablet to support both capacitive multi-touch and an active (battery powered pen). The pen isn't included, so you'll have to shell out $80 to buy it. That said, it could be your idea of heaven if you like to draw digitally (yes, it supports pressure sensitivity), draw diagrams or take notes.
HTC went with Android OS 2.3.3 Gingerbread rather than the tablet-centric Honeycomb so they could customize the experience and software to the max. They did a lovely job at that, but we're still not sure if we're willing to give up the newer and more tablet optimized Honeycomb 3.0 OS found on several 10" tablets like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer and Motorola Xoom.
The tablet is WiFi only, and that means no 3G or 4G, and no contracts. If you've got a smartphone with the mobile hotspot feature or a MiFi soft of device, then you're good for an Internet connection away from WiFi. If you don't have these, then your connectivity extends only as far as the nearest WiFi 802.11b/g/n access point.
The Flyer has 16 gigs of internal storage and a microSD card slot. It has a front 1.2MP camera and a pretty decent 5 megapixel rear camera that can shoot 720p video. Bluetooth with A2DP stereo is on board as is a GPS. The display resolution is 1024 x 600; the same as the 7" Galaxy Tab.
The HTC Flyer is an attractive tablet with an elegant curved aluminum back and white plastic end caps. It weight just under a pound (15 ounces) and it has good balance and is comfy to hold. The look is a little more upscale than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7", the granddaddy of widely marketed 7" Android 2.x tablets.
Here's our HTC Flyer video review. We spend 18 minutes covering HTC's custom software, the eBook reader app (powered by Kobo), video playback, HDMI output via an MHL adapter (not included, so we used our Samsung Infuse 4G adapter), the pen and related apps, and compare it to the Galaxy Tab and BlackBerry PlayBook.
Stay tuned for our full written review in the coming days.
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview