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 HTCsource.com (the first HTC blog) back in 2007 and later joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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  • http://Website curious

    Is Netflix supported on the HTC Flyer out of the box or do you have to root to get it to work?

    • http://Website Rob

      You don’t need root access anymore good buddy!

      http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1076150

      • http://Website Hanna

        iPad 2 smokes this…

    • http://Website nick

      Ive installed the Netflix app with no issues, but video playback doesn’t work properly. I get audio with a white screen. This issue affects other android phones as well.

      • http://Website curious

        Darn it. On my Galaxy Tab I used the APKs from XDA but I get to where I would play the movie and it says it cannot connect to the server. This is a selling point for me since my Nexus One screen is pretty small to watch movies on.

  • http://Website Rob

    Hey guys! Look at me!!!

    I came here to let you all know you should just go out and buy iProducts!! Android is the suxxors and Steve Jobs is mah homie!!!

    In case you didn’t know already, iPad might as well be called the jesus pad, it came here to save us from our sins (that is android)!

    /sarcasm

    Seriously though, I’m looking at the Asus Transformer and am debating on why I shouldn’t buy it other than I don’t really have $400 to drop on it.

  • http://Website KENTUCKY

    already obsolete!
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    buy this and you support fragmentation!!!!

    • http://Website nick

      How so?

  • http://twitter.com/vitriolix vitriolix

    the project manager on this within HTC should be fired. The decision to delay it to put their crapware skin on top of the amazing stock Android UI is the death of this thing. When they started the project 3.0 wasn’t out yet, so I understand their motivation, but still, bad call. They had to know 3.0 was coming soon, and the fact that HTC’s biggest competitors (Moto, Samsung) already have nice stock tablets on the market… Too bad, their hardware is consistently amazing.

    • http://Website Raveesh

      The reason they needed to put their on skin on it was to take full advantage of the Magic Pen. The entire Flyer experience revolves around the stylus, and it makes sense. Guess what, the Flyer is the only tablet to really stand out right now and say to the others “You know what, I can do everything you can and more”

      If anything, the project manager deserves applause for thinking differently than the entire Tegra 2 brigade.

      • http://Website Nick

        While I’m glad that the Flyer has HTC Scribe, I wish it was integrated with more apps. Right now you can only really use it with the Notes and Reader apps with full interaction. I’m hoping developers will integrate support for the digital pen in the future since HTC will most likely be shipping all their Android Tablets with HTC Scribe technology.

  • http://Website A. Schwarzenegger

    It looks like a poor man’s iPad….dunno just saying…….

    • http://Website miku hatsune

      they’re the same price, god damn you’re a tool

  • http://muddypa.ws/blog Nick

    Is the pen really separate? What are they thinking? I think 7in is a good size. Not too big or too small. As it stands, without a pen it is nothing other than a phone…like an ipad. How does the note taking app hold up? Can you really take good notes with it? I was really looking forward to this tablet, but I’m just not sure it is worth it. Is the pen any better than using a capacitive stylus?

    • http://Website nick

      The pen is pure magic. The note taking app works great. You can choose between a half dozen different pen strokes and have a good selection of colors. The note takikg app works great with typing, attachments, pen input, and auto recording. I’ll be taking the Flyer to work to see how it holds up as a note pad replacement during meetings next week and will do an in-depth article on the flyers pen capabilities.

      • http://www.photonlight.com Bryan

        Thanks. Looking forward to hearing about this bit specifically. The pen and note-taking features sound great, but can’t wait to read a detailed report of how well the system really works in practice.

  • mrjlwilliams

    Until you’ve used it, ya shouldn’t go by what these websites post. I buy losts of devices, and this one is really impressive for the price. I got this earlier today, and the fact that it has a single core doesn’t matter. It really performs well. I have the xoom, the g-slate, and the playbook. They all pretty much perform the same, as far as the speed. But since I have all of them, the playbook beats the xoom, and the g-slate. Hands down. Xoom crashes a lot, and so does the g-slate. The playbook has the best screen, and performed the best. I will be testing this one to see how well it works under pressure.

    Go buy the products, and use it for a week or more. Then come back here and talk about it. Or post your thoughts in a video on YouTube.

  • mrjlwilliams

    Oh and for all the apple people, the iPad 2 is ok, not great. Just like the iPhone. Open your minds, and close your wallet to Apple. You will be amazed at what you find.

  • http://Website u @zzhole

    LETS GO MAVS!

  • http://Website Niteowl360

    I have been using the Galaxy Tab 7″ since Jan.
    I have now loaded GB 2.3.3 and it is now everything it should have been.
    I have tried the HTC Flyer in my hands for an hour directly comparing to the GT.
    Here are my thoughts.
    Speed
    The stock 2.2 on the GT cannot compare.
    The GB 2.3.3 can compare.
    Result both equal.

    Looks
    Outright winner Flyer mainly due to tapering at top of device, thereby appearing much thinner.
    The lit buttons that move from portrait to landscape is enough to make a decision on.
    Simply striking. Buy that man a beer!
    Outright winner Flyer.

    Software
    Sense 3 kills what Samsung brings to the party.
    However I use for eg LPP which removes much if the Sense offerings.
    Flyer Scribe and Notes experience does the trick.
    The separate pen will prob account for as much revenue as the device, esp on re-orders for lost pens :)
    Outright winner Flyer

    Screen
    Very important to me.
    Tie, both spectacular.

    Buying new, has to he HTC Flyer unless like me, you update to the GB 2.3.3 software in the tab.
    Trust me as Nike says, ‘Just do it’

  • http://Website Mohammed Omer

    STF up You iPad (Apple) Slut.

  • http://Website Christopher Harding

    Hi, I’d be interested to know how long the battery lasts just using WiFi and 3g for browsing, email, Facebook, etc., and separately on video playback. I’m looking for a tablet and thinking either the Flyer or waiting for the new tab 8.9.

    • mrjlwilliams

      After 22 hour of up time, and nearly 8 hours of use, the HTC Flyer is still at 22% left on the battery. I believe this out last will out many other tablets on the market, its still going as I type this message with.

      Music, videos, emails, lots of web surfing….this thing really gets the job done. You will not have an issues with the battery.

    • http://Website NIck

      Since I’m only on day two, it’s hard to say what real world battery performance will be like. I’ve been using this thing non-stop since I’ve gotten it and I’ve only had to charge it twice. I’ll run some batter tests this week and post my findings.

  • http://Website Evo 3d rules android

    Ipad and iphone is USELESS as I have always said. Htc rules period smartphones and tablets. Iproducts are for losers..

  • http://Website evo 3d man

    Honestly, Htc and there tablets will get stronger and better as time moves foward. It’s no secret that in the smartphone market HTC makes Appkle look like GARBAGE…Anyone with iproducts are just senseless people with no desire for learning…Android rules period….

  • http://Website evo 3d man

    This is a nice entry into the tablet market for HTC they will do better as the days move forward. It’s no secret that HTC simply makes APPLE look like GARBAGE in the smartphone market and as time moves forward tablets will be ruled by HTC as well. Anyone with anything iproduct is just SENSELESS and need to learn technology…Iproducts STINK

    • http://Website haha

      Shut up Richard, we know its you. Seriously, do you have nothing better to do than troll every android blog and preach about HTC and the evo. Get a job, or a hobby , or at least start posting relevant content.

  • Nick Gray

    Just so everyone knows, I wrote this entire article on the Flyer. Thumb typing in portrait mode is extremely comfortable and HTC’s keyboard is as good as ever. Can’t wait until i get to test the Flyer out at work during meetings for note taking.

    Kinda wish I had this when I was in college.

  • http://Website Hanna

    iPad 2 smokes this..

  • http://Website Tom

    While I don’t think this tablet is very good, the Apple fanboys need to STOP.

    All of the iPad comments are making it boring to read the comments.

    About this tablet: I would never buy this tablet, because an 7 inch tablet is too much like a phone. I’m just going to wait until December, when we have Ice Cream, before I even consider buying a tablet.

    • mrjlwilliams

      Just because the screen size is not what you prefer, does not make this a bad tablet. That makes no sense.

      • http://Website Huh?

        Of course if the tab is too small for his taste then it makes sense for him not to buy it. Everyone has make-or-break features and specs in a device they plan to procure. I too am waiting until the perfect combination of size, feature, form-factor, and price come to the market to get my tablet. It’s not easy, either! I work with an iPad fanboy and he drives me nuts with “you really need to get an iPad” BS.

        • mrjlwilliams

          That’s just my point. Calling a device bad just because you prefer something else is silly. Especially if you have not used it. Huh? LOL wow.

    • http://Website CC

      It is so funny to read people complaining about the size of this device or any 7″ size tablet. Like come on, how can you even mistake it as a phone or nearly the size of a phone? I have the EVO 4G and I never once picked my Flyer to answer calls (with my eyes closed).

      I have been playing with the Flyer for 2 days now and i love it. My 1st gen iPad is now being used as a Slacker Radio player in my bathroom. And to think I spent almost $400.00 in apps on that thing.

      I have been connecting my Flyer to my Sprint Hotspot on EVO 4G and i am just about 15% battery life left. This little tablet is not only ideal for browsing web pages (not watered down versions) but it is handy and fits right in my bag. I couldnt do that with the 10″ tablet such as the iPad.

      I originally thought I would be returning this to Best Buy in a few days of playing, as i originally thought that an i7 processor for a laptop is better for my reasons/purpose (show clients their website design or on going website design projects). But with the HTC pen, this is perfect for that design acribbling!

      If you can afford it, get it. I know it is pricey after adding the pen and tax. But if you have the Silver Reward membership, you can return it within 45 days without restocking fee. Heaven knows I changed my iPad 3x before keeping the 64 3G+WiFi version.

      Love my HTC!

  • http://Website Sam Martinez

    OK I have spent several years working with Mobile Tech both as phones, computers and now the smartphones and tablets of today. I think the whole Apple vs Android fight is a bit childish.

    Each products has pros and cons that fit different customers in different ways. It’s no different that the car fights you hear growing up, Me I am all about my Audi, but my brother is a dire hard BMW guy. In the end we both getr waht we want because both products exist.

    Personaly I will admit the look and feel of IOS is very very smooth and nice. But I am all about control and customization. Guess what? My brother is giving up on his Evo and going right back to Apple. Why because it gives him what he wants and needs how he wants and needs. Me I am dire hard Android. Have been since the G1, the true first droid!

    I haven’t seen the Flyer yet and we haven’t gotten any instock at my location but you can bet your tail I will the moment I hear we do!

    So theres my take. Like or not both Android and Apple are here to stay. So guys give it a rest and enjoy your new toys :-)

  • http://Website Rey

    Looks nice i never thought the Pen was a good idea. But if i didn’t graduate college in six months this would of been a great buy for me.

  • http://Website DROID Sam

    Note sure if anyone noticed this, but I tested out the Flyer at BB and discovered that the bottom of the Pen works as a capacitive stylus. I wish they would have given is a softer covering, but it’s nice that you can simply flip it over rather than needing to put it away when you want to navigate the UI.

  • Andy_jr

    Hi Nick,

    I am curious about the pressure and/or angle sensors of the pen. Does it detect pressure well? Can you use pressure to change line thickness, for example? And does it detect pen angle?

    Thanks!

    • Nick Gray

      Yes, the pen does sense pressure pretty well. A light pen strike produces a thinner line and you can really tell the difference while using the highlighter. I’ve used the pen at various angles and have not noticed much of a difference.

  • http://Website a

    &” is fail

  • http://Website a

    7″ is fail

    • Nick Gray

      7 inch tablets are not for everyone, but after using the xoom for a while, I’m enjoying the seven inch flyer much more, especially since I’m taking it with me a lot more.

  • http://Website Amy

    I picked up my Flyer last night and I’m loving it so far! The size is just right for me since my iPad was always too cumbersome to carry around.

    Does anyone know a good video calling app to use with the front facing camera? Also, are there any apps on the market that work with the digital pen? I like the notes app, but I wish SpringPad has pen support.

  • http://Website Hammy

    Does anyone know what the camera is like. I’ve heard reports that the cameras are complete crap, but no one seems to post images of what it can produce.

  • http://Website James

    Feeling lucky