HTC Flyer
Both devices sport a "Magic Pen" stylus

The reviews are in for yet another Android-based tablet, and -- like the Motorola Xoom and the LG G-Slate before it -- they aren't exactly glowing for the HTC Flyer.

We previewed the Flyer back in February. What stood out then -- the inclusion of a stylus -- is still the main differentiator on the 7-inch tablet, in addition to the fact that it eschews Android's tablet-optimized OS, the underwhelming "Honeycomb," for Gingerbread with HTC's Sense UI.

Compared to the similarly sized Samsung Galaxy Tab, SlashGear notes that the Flyer is heavier (14.82 oz.), but with good reason: The Flyer is "far sturdier" and "more expensive feeling" than the Tab.

Another interesting point: In addition to the lack of Honeycomb (which is said to be coming soon), the Flyer is powered by a single-core 1.5GHz processor (Qualcomm MSM8255). And the 3G radio on the device can only be used for data -- no phone calls.

On the topic of the stylus, SlashGear had this to say:

The Flyer’s pen is leagues away from the nasty plastic toothpicks of old-style resistive touchscreen devices. Its smooth nib glides nicely across the Gorilla Glass of the Flyer’s display, accurate and lag free. HTC took responsibility for adding digital pen functionality to Android, and they’ve done a solid job.

As for the stylus' integration, it's far from perfect:

While the Flyer uses a similar active digitizer to what you’d find in a Windows 7 tablet PC, it doesn’t feel as accurate. That usually means making your handwriting slightly larger, which is frustrating on a 7-inch display. Meanwhile, although HTC claim a couple hundred levels of pressure sensitivity, there’s little visible difference between the two extremes. There’s also no handwriting recognition, and you can’t handwrite emails or jot into text-entry boxes.


More frustrating, though, is the confusion between finger-touch and pen-touch. 99-percent of the interface is intended for finger control, but even if you’d prefer to use the Magic Pen, the Flyer won’t allow you – instead, it just takes a Scribble shot of the screen you’re looking at. When you’re actually in that screenshot, however, and you want to either paste it into Notes, share it or delete it, you can’t tap the buttons with the pen – instead you have to use your finger.

The battery life is "really, really impressive," according to Engadget, and the screen display is bright, vibrant, and sharp -- even when used outdoors.

Both reviews noted how bad the main 5-megapixel camera is, (the 1.3-megapixel front-facing one isn't any better), as well as the poor quality of the Flyer's stereo speakers.

Overall, "It is truly differentiated from the Android tablet pack with its robust aluminum construction, Magic Pen inclusion, and more responsive interface, and aside from a few imperfections and a general immaturity of tablet-specific software, it's as competently designed a tablet as we've yet seen," Engadget writes. 

SlashGear was a bit more critical: 

Yes, there are some frustrations: the camera is an embarrassment, the speakers underwhelming, and the single-core processor does give us a little pause for thought when we consider the sort of demanding apps likely to be coming down the pipeline for Android slates. 

Both reviews agree that price will be a key factor in the Flyer's success, and, as it stands (£600 in the UK for the 32GB, 3G-enabled iteration), is not working in the device's favor. Even the 16GB, WiFi-only version will run the same amount as the 32GB Apple iPad 2 (£480).

Still, there is a lot to like about the Flyer, and both reviews agree that there is a niche market for the device.

Meanwhile, for those looking for a a larger Android-based tablet from HTC, the wait may soon be over. The 10-inch HTC "Puccini" has leaked, and will support the Magic Pen functionality introduced on the Flyer, according to Android Community. It is also said to sport a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and LTE compatibility (for AT&T).

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