May 21 AT 8:35 PM Nick Gray 46 Comments

Initial hands-on impressions of the HTC Flyer

The HTC Flyer has landed.  Best Buy announced that the Flyer would be available on May 22, but an internal memo was released which gave stores permission to start selling the tablet as soon as they got it on stock.  I have not made my trip over to Best Buy to pick up the HTC Flyer yet, but since HTC was kind enough to send me a demo unit, I’ll probably hold off until I have to send it back.

As you already know, the HTC Flyer is the first Android tablet from HTC.  Unlike the most recent Android tablets on the market, the HTC Flyer is running on android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) rather than 3.1 (Honeycomb). HTC made this decision so that they could get the Flyer to market in a timely manner with a tablet optimized version of HTC Sense.  A Honeycomb update for the Flyer is already in the works and should roll out this summer.

Now that you have a bit of the background, I’m sure you guys are wondering what the HTC Flyer is like.  If you’re expecting an experience like the Motorola XOOM, you’ll be a bit disappointed. Though it pains me to say it, the HTC Flyer’s closest competitor is last year’s Samsung Galaxy Tab. The Flyer and the Tab both run on Android 2.3 with a 7-inch display, but the Flyer has a few key features which makes it a much more appealing choice over the Tab. HTC has put a lot of work into customizing HTC Sense for a better tablet experience. The Flyer comes with new 3D widgets, a redesigned launcher, and updated apps which feature panel layouts when the Flyer is rotated into landscape mode. It may not sound like much, but I’m still finding subtle enhancements throughout the UI that make the tablet experience with Sense very enjoyable.

While the new UI enhancements are a nice touch, the key selling point for the HTC Flyer is the Digital Pen integration with HTC Scribe.  The Digital Pen is pure magic.  Simply tap the screen and the Flyer captures a screen shot and allows you to draw or add notes with the pen.  You can save your notes or share them with your contacts via Facebook, Twitter or email (or any other communication app you have installed).  HTC Scribe also let’s you annotate in the pre-installed HTC Reader app by adding notes or highlighting passages.  All your digital markings are then bookmarked so you can easily find them at a later time.

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I have heard disappointment from quite a few people in regards to the HTC Flyer’s processor.  HTC has chosen to power the Flyer with a single-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, but so far I have no complaints.  Quadrant scores for the HTC Flyer hover between 1800 and 1900 which is on par with Honeycomb tablets running NVIDIA Tegra 2 processors.

Overall, I’m thoroughly enjoying my time with the HTC Flyer.  The 1.5 GHz Qualcomm processor has enough oomph for you to enjoy hours of 3D gaming (spent an hour playing Gorilla Bob) and the battery should have more than enough juice to get you through an intensive day of tweeting, web browsing, and video watching.

I’ll be doing a lot more testing with the HTC Flyer over the next few weeks, so feel free to leave a comment to let us know what you want to know about the HTC Flyer.

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. He started (the first HTC blog) back in 2007 and later joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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