Taiwanese handset maker HTC Corporation made a name for itself with an array of handsets driven by Google’s Android software. Like other phone makers these days, HTC too has to jump on the tablet bandwagon if it’s to remain relevant. On Tuesday, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, they unveiled their first-ever slate dubbed the Flyer.
At the first glance, the Flyer is a regular seven-inch tablet with a 1024 by 600 pixel resolution display. You’ll immediately notice its attractive unibody aluminum enclosure that’s just 7.7 millimeter thick, or nearly 50 percent slimmer than the iPad. It weighs in at 420 grams versus 680 grams for WiFi iPad (730 grams for the WiFi+3G iPad model).
The device runs a tablet-optimized HTC Sense user interface on top of Android 2.4 Gingerbread. It also includes HTC’s new Watch movie streaming and downloading app and Scribe technology (more on that later), as well as OnLive cloud gaming service that makes its tablet debut on the Flyer.
On a closer inspection, though, the Flyer is anything but your regular slate. Looking to differentiate the Flyer from the crop of Android tablets that all look the same and boast similar specifications, HTC’s engineers have combined best of both worlds by augmenting modern touch-based interaction with a versatile form of input we usually associate with Microsoft’s Tablet PC project. We’re talking about a pen-based input, which is a nicer word for a stylus.
This feature is powered by HTC Scribe technology that lets you take notes, sign contracts, draw pictures, write on a web page or photo, etc. It’s intelligent, too. For example, you can jot notes while you capture the audio of a meeting and later tap a word to go to that exact place in time in the audio recording of the meeting. Or, how about built-in synchronization with Evernote, a popular note-taking service.
The Flyer doesn’t disappoint in the hardware arena. Internals include a speedy 1.5GHz processor with 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, three sensors (digital compass, ambient light and G-sensor) and two cameras (five-megapixel with auto focus on the back and 1.3-megapixel on the front). You also get a microSD port for external storage, 3.5mm audio jack and standard micro-USB connectors.
The Flyer connects to wireless and GSM 3G HPSA+ cellular networks and supports the latest Bluetooth 3.0 specification with A2DP for wireless stereo headsets. You will also appreciate built-in GPS antenna for accurate geopositioning in location-based applications. Expect to squeeze about four hours of video playback from the Flyer’s battery. Standby time is rated at impressive 820-1470 hours. HTC plans to ship the device during second quarter of this year. Price wasn’t determined at the time of this writing.