Feb 15, 2011

HTC launches 1.5GHz, 7-inch Android 2.4 Flyer into the tablet wars

Boy oh boy, HTC is entering the tablet arena with quite a bang. The company has just taken the wraps off its brand new 7-inch Flyer Android tablet, which touts a 1.5GHz single-core CPU, 1GB of RAM plus 32GB of flash storage, an aluminum unibody construction, 1024 x 600 resolution, a tablet-optimized version of Sense, and... what's this, a pressure-sensitive capacitive stylus! The HTC Scribe trademark we saw floating around in legal waters turned out not to be the branding for a tablet, it's actually the name HTC gives to the technology enabling what it calls a "groundbreaking pen experience." Other details include a 5 megapixel camera on the back paired with a 1.3 megapixel imager up front, a 4000mAh battery rated to last for four hours of continuous video playback, and memory expandability via a microSD card. Hit read more for details.
The Flyer will ship in Q2 2011 with Android Gingerbread 2.4 on board. HTC says it'll be indistinguishable from 2.3 as far the end user is concerned, though we all know it won't be quite as good as the 3.0 stuff. We're told not to worry, however, since the new version of Sense being introduced with the Flyer will be the focal point of the company's software offering. As far as HTC is concerned, Sense matters more than the underlying platform, and the reason Honeycomb isn't the shipping OS here was explicitly stated as HTC not having enough time with the latest Google code to customize it to the full requirements of Sense. Guess that settles that.

There are a couple more software enhancements, both marking the introduction of the fruits of HTC's recent deals: OnLive cloud gaming will be coming with the Flyer in the form of an app you open up to access the web-connected bored-relieving service, while that Saffron Digital acquisition has turned into an HTC Watch app for movie streaming and downloading.

We spent a bit of quality time with a Flyer unit recently, although we weren't allowed to turn it on, and our early impressions are rather mixed. On the one hand, we do appreciate the ruggedness and durability that's afforded by the one-piece aluminum shell, but on the other, the Flyer is quite the chunky beast in your hands. We'd imagine strapping in such an extra-speedy processor is the main culprit for its extra girth, though the Flyer is, ironically enough, not terribly light either. We found it heavier and generally a lot less polished from a design perspective than Samsung's Galaxy Tab. Anyhow, HTC should have functional units for us immediately following its MWC presser this morning, and we'll be delving in deeper with this super-specced device. Hang tight!

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