By JENNIFER NG
HTC goes the extra mile to make the Flyer stand out from other Android Tablet computers.
THE HTC Flyer differs from the rest of the Tablet offerings with the fact that it comes in a handy 7in form factor and bundles in a pen-like stylus called the Magic Pen.
The Flyer also comes complete with a snug white leather case to keep your Tablet scratch-free and a place to hold the very important stylus.
There is so much you can do with the Flyer. You can do important work stuff like check your e-mail and reply to urgent messages immediately. You can also view PDF documents and add annotations or your digital signature to it using the Pen. It also lets you doodle and draw to your hearts content.
The Flyer is also an ideal size to surf the Internet and read e-books on the Kobo powered e-book reader with ease. Besides that, you can snap pictures, record videos and sound bites, play Angry Birds and all sorts of games available at the Android Market, and do social networking activities on the same device.
The Flyer does make all these wonderful functions available on a single device but I found it rather disappointing that the interface is not as intuitive and user-friendly as other Tablets.
Hardware and design
The Flyer comes in a tri-colour design. The front bezel is black and on the other side, HTC adds two odd-looking white plastic flaps on top and at the bottom of the device. That certainly makes your Tablet stand out from the rest, unfortunately making it look less sleek and sophisticated.
Push open the top flap to find the SD and SIM card slots. The plastic flaps do make the device easier to hold, providing better grip when in landscape orientation.
At the back, there is a 5-megapixel autofocus camera and stereo speakers. It also has a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video calls.
Despite the plastic feel to the device thanks to the two white flaps, the Flyer feels heavy for its size, weighing 420g. The weight is certainly noticeable when you have it in your handbag. I do hope HTC shaves off some of that weight in their next Tablet offering.
The Flyer's Pen is the definitive feature on the Tablet. The Pen works mostly with HTC's Notes Application.
Notes opens up a new page which looks like a physical notebook. You have the option to type or write with the Magic Pen. However, the note title needs to be typed.
Notes allow you to attach a picture, audio file or document (PDF) to your current page. The ability to attach an audio file to a page is excellent for reporters who need to record sound bites to accompany their notes.
You are allowed to choose different types of nibs to write or draw on pencil, mechanical pencil, paintbrush, fountain pen, felt-tip and highlighter. You can also choose different coloured ink.
You can share your notes on Facebook, Twitter or e-mail - it will be sent as a photo.
Serious note-taking on Notes would work well if not for the fact that while writing on the screen, your hand will most definitely accidentally brush against one of the buttons at the bottom.
The Back, Menu and Back to Desktop buttons will trigger unwanted functions such as automatically saving and closing your note, displaying the keyboard or even taking you back to the desktop or a previous application.
HTC should address this issue and allow for the buttons to be manually deactivated.
Writing on the fly(er)
What impressed me about the Flyer is that coupled with the Pen, you can add your digital signature to documents easily. This makes the device a great tool for businessmen on the move who need to sign documents and send it back to their offices immediately.
The Flyer can edit any PDF document from your e-mail seamlessly. You may add annotations to the document or simply sign the document. It will even ask if you want to save the file with the ink in a separate layer or if you want to flatten the file. The latter is recommended for digital signatures.
Playing Angry Birds on the 7in screen is so much more addictive than playing it on a mobile phone. The screen, which is similar in size to the Samsung Galaxy Tab or the Blackberry Playbook is a good size for games and viewing videos.
However, I would prefer surfing with a larger device.
As a person who likes to take pictures, I would not use the camera for anything more than to take pictures to attach it with my notes to illustrate a point.
I found that the image-stabiliser on the Flyer could be improved. Pictures taken with the 5-megapixel autofocus camera were blurry on most normal occasions. You would need to hold the camera very still to capture a good clear shot.
However, I have no complaints with recording video and it also comes with an autofocus function.
Moving on, the Flyer comes with the Kobo eReader and a couple of predownloaded free classics.
The Kobo Store offers over 2 million e-books with titles ranging from the New York Times bestseller list, new releases and, of course, classics. Apparently, thousands of new e-books are added every week.
The reader allows you to add bookmarks, annotations, change the text size and even background colour. The reader locks the screen orientation in portrait mode.
The HTC Flyer seems to get confused when there are too many WiFi networks in the vicinity, and refuses to connect. The device refuses to connect even when you select one of the networks in the detected list. However, it works well when there is a single WiFi network in the area.
The Flyer is a decent Tablet and stands out because it allows you to take notes and draw on it using the Pen. It is also an excellent communication tool. However, HTC needs to improve on the Notes App to be really taken seriously.
Pros: Great for watching videos and playing games on the 7in screen; write, draw, annotate and sign digital documents with the Magic Pen.
Cons: A tad heavy; poor WiFi detection; not user-friendly enough.
Android Tablet computer
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
NETWORK: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 900/1700/2100
PROCESSOR: 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
CAMERA: 5-megapixel rear camera with auto focus; 1.3-megapixel front camera
MEMORY: 1GB RAM
DISPLAY: 7in touchscreen (1,024 x 600-pixels)
PORTS/SLOTS: MicroSD slot
OTHER FEATURES: Accelerometer, digital compass, Adobe Flash 10.1 player, GPS, 3.5mm audio jack
STANDBY TIME: Up to 1,470 hours
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 195.4 x 122 x 13.2mm
RATING: 3 stars
Review unit courtesy of HTC Malaysia Sdn Bhd, (03) 6201-6433