By June 3, 2011

HTC Flyer Review

HTC FlyerHTC have excitedly produced their first venture into the tablet market with the HTC Flyer. A 7" Android tablet running version 2.3.3 Gingerbread on a newly designed 1.5ghz processor. No dual-core and no Honeycomb might not sound like a tablet to get too excited about however the Flyer has a few tricks up it’s sleeve to make it stand out from what looks to be becoming a rather crowded market.


The 10 second review:

  • Device: HTC Flyer
  • Price £479.99 – WiFi 16GB, £599.99 3G 32GB
  • Summary: A 7" Android tablet with a smart pen input and popular overlay
  • Best of: Scribe technology, crisp screen, pocketable, thin
  • Worst of: Dubious plastic ends, Android phone OS,  Expensive


What is in the box?

  • Mains Charger
  • USB cable
  • Headphones with in-line mic
  • Extra ear-buds
  • HTC Scribe – (This might not be included with WiFi version)



  • Processor: 1.5GHz 
  • Platform: Android  with HTC Sense
  • Memory  Internal storage: 32 GB  RAM: 1 GB  Micro SD memory card extension (SD 2.0 compatible)  Dimensions (LxWxT)  195.4 x 122 x 13.2 mm
  • Weight: Around 415 grams with battery  
  • Display:  7 inch touch-sensitive TFT screen with 1024 X 600 resolution
  • Network: HSPA/WCDMA: 900/AWS/2100 MHz  Upload speed of up to 5.76 Mbps and download speed of up to 14.4 Mbps 
  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • GPS: Internal GPS antenna Sensors
  • Ambient light sensor 
  • G-Sensor 
  • Digital compass
  • Bluetooth: 3.0 with A2DP for wireless stereo headsets 
  • Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n  3.5 mm stereo audio jack  Micro-USB (12-pin micro-USB 2.0)
  • Camera:  5 megapixel colour camera with auto focus, 1.3 megapixel front camera"
  • Audio supported formats: Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav,  .wma (Windows Media Audio 9)  Recording: .amr, .aac 
  • Video supported formats  Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv (Windows Media Video 9), .avi (MP4 ASP and MP3), .xvid (MP4 ASP and MP3)
  • Rechargeable battery  Capacity: 4000 mAh 
  • Standby time: Up to 820 ~1470 hours  
  • Video Playback: Up to 4 hours
  • AC adapter: Voltage range/frequency: 100 ~ 240V AC, 50/60 Hz  DC output: 9V and 1.67A



The Flyer has a gorgeous 7" 1024×600 TFT screen that, combined with the HTC Sense overlay, makes for a crisp and attractive experience. On the bottom are some touch sensitive buttons that work with the accelerometer to appear on the left side as the tablet is turned. Note that this only happens on the one side as you cannot rotate the device upside down or to the right. The touch sensitive buttons comprise of a trio of Home, Menu and Back buttons. The fourth button is for the pen menu to appear and can only be activated by the pen, not your finger.

In the middle of the right side is a 1.3 megapxiel Webcam for use with Google Voice and other such VOIP software.

Flyer_FrontL20110209 Flyer_FrontP20110209


The pen is a simple addition with two buttons on the shaft. One button actives the eraser and the other re-engages the writing function. The nib of the pen will move in and out of the tubing slightly to prevent possible damage to the screen. A big gripe I had was that the Pen was not attachable to the Flyer. Over the years HTC has been manufacturing phones with all manner of embedded styluses, has it been so long since they last did it that they have forgotten how to? Instead the Flyer is equipment with a fairly un-stylish pouch with a ring at the side to slip the Pen into. Not the most handy.


On the back is the 5 megapixel camera protruding slightly from a white plastic hatch. On the top of the hatch is the 3.5mm headphone socket and a power button. The bottom of the device has the power connector. The build quality is good, but not stellar. The aluminium back is marred by a less than quality feel from the plastic ends. Initially I was trying to open the top of the Flyer to slip in my SIM card and MicroSD, As I pulled it a little I noticed a circuit board was showing, I really didn’t put much effort into it. I then realised I was trying to unclip the wrong end. I’m still wondering if I had have continued would I have gotten it off?
There are two small speaker grills on the right side of the back that a nice for watching a movie however, during day to day use the tend to be covered by your hand, if you are holding it in your left hand. In comparison to the iPad Classic the Flyer is very light, will not hurt your wrist after prolonged usage. It’s noticeably heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Tab however this might be down to the build materials used.




  • Nippy processor
  • Light
  • Scribe doodling
  • Attractive screen


  • No flash
  • Build issues
  • A phones operating system



The Samsung Galaxy Tab was released in the latter half of last year and proved to be a successful venture into putting the mobile operating system onto a bigger screen. Many were shocked that the high price didn’t put people off. So it seems only right that another company would have a go. HTC have produced some of the best Android phones in the last year. Their attention to detail and devotion to quality materials in construction has been refreshing over the last two generations. Applying these factors could result in a pleasant tablet experience.

The HTC Flyer rocks an all new Qualcomm 1.5Ghz processor. Initially this might seem a little paltry when compared to other tablets on the market, for example the Motorola Xoom, however the device never feels like it is stumbling. Android has been running well on a 1Ghz for the last year and the additional 500mhz certainly only makes things smoother. One must also remember that despite the HTC Sense overlay there is also some extra software resident, in the background, ready to pounce once you unleash the Pen.

The biggest warning about this tablet is that is does not run the tablet friendly version of the operating system. What does this mean? If you buy an HTC phone the software on-board will be largely the same as what appears on this tablet. Other Tablets on the market run a different version of the Android software, not necessarily newer but designed with a tablet experience in mind.

Of course to help ease the situation of running an operating system that wasn’t built with a large screen as a priority HTC has their HTC Sense interface running on the top. This interface helps give Android a unique feel and is deeply embedded into the operating system. A lot of changes have been made to vanilla Android you would experience directly from Google.


HTC Sense is a very popular Android overlay. This version has been adapted to incorporate the note and paint brush tools alongside the ability to clip the screen. The most notable addition to the typical HTC Sense setup is the shortcut bar across the bottom. Starting on the left is a familiar grid icon for the Application Drawer. Next to this is a shortcut to the notepad, we will investigate this later. Next is the Reader and finally HTC’s much spoken of Watch service.


One of the handiest features Sense has is the ability to quickly swipe to any of the eight home screens. This a handy shortcut I was using to get to the Notepad screen. However, then I remembered that the navigation bar on the bottom of all the home screens had a shortcut already there.


There a number of handy widgets to add to your home screen. Friends Stream is one example of a useful aggregator for your Facebook and Twitter streams.


The Notepad is a fair simple lined page affair. You can add multiple mediums to this. For example above I have used a traditional cover of the Jane Eyre novel available from the HTC eBook store, give her some much needed facial hair and radical background colouring. I have combined this with and image taken directly from the camera using the notepad camera button and noted exactly what I am doing at the time of the picture. It all seemed too easy, and it stayed that way. With one click I was able to send it back to my computer and view my marvel on the desktop.

As an art tool it’s fiddly. My better half is a tad creative and knows her pastels from her water colours. I gave her the Flyer to doodle me up a little image with an Android flavour. She managed to cobble something together however I don’t think she is terribly proud of it. Some of her complaints related to a menu popping up as she doodled as her the edge of her hand touched the screen whilst using the Scribe. However, I was using the desktop at the time and the image below appeared on my Evernote desktop client shortly after she finished and hit the save button.


So, not brilliant for art. As a notepad this worked a lot better however as everything is backed up to Evernote it does feel a little like this is an expensive front end for Evernote.
You wont be writing notes fluidly on the screen for some time. The scribe and scribbling takes a lot of getting used to. Again touching the screen with your hand as you scribble towards the top of the screen can result in a menu popping up and distracting your flow.

The great art of the Scribe technology is being able to capture the screen with a single touch and work on it. You can highlight text, underline and draw bubbles around text. Once the screenshot is saved to the notebook you can draw indicators to the screenshot on the page surrounding it. You can grab a shot of a website, add your thoughts on a product or article and send this note in a variety of ways to a contact or as a reminded to look into on the desktop once you get home.

Another handy feature was the record function on the notepad. This will play through the note you have taken as a essentially movie at a later date. You can listen back to the sound in the background and see your note taking as the scene progresses. It covers each step of the note you have made, so if you erased something during the note taking session you will be able to see it again. Pretty swish addition and handy to boot, provided you remember to hit that record button.

I managed to get a little confused when using the notepad. It would sync automatically with Evernote and I found my main Evernote notebook becoming quite crowded and untidy. I, being a tidy freak, was becoming a little irritated by the clutter and disorganisation of my notebook. It wasn’t glaringly obvious how to short things into specific notebooks and I eventually had to spend some time on the Desktop filing away notes into the appropriate  notebooks. I’m not saying the Flyer can’t do this, I just didn’t find an obvious way.


The Drop down status bar has a bunch of handy shortcuts that simplify the handy of click it would normally take to access some of the more commonly used settings and applications.


Some attention has be paid to the Application drawer. This time around there has been some dividers brought in to help you find your apps more quickly.
Having a favourites section is notable as you can add apps to this menu to avoid having to dredge through pages of icons to find something over and over again. It helps the continual build up of shortcuts on the home screen, feeling like HTC wants you to use their widgets.


The Flyer comes loaded with apps already. The collection here seems to cover most aspects the average user will be requiring. You can simply uninstall those that you wish to replace with your preferred app. HTC has pretty good taste as a lot of what is here is better than most.


Like most tablets the Flyer has GPS navigation potential. HTC also provide some mapping software to assist the operation. Unlike some on board navigation this one actually downloads a map set for you to use. The prices are a competitive when compared to Co Pilot or nDrive. The mapping break down might be more accessible, as are not required to purchase a full continental map as some providers require.


Alongside the maps, you can also receive traffic information and speed cameras. Its nice to see HTC going the extra mile (boom boom) to add this in also.


In comparison to vanilla Android there are a great many options, some standard to Android but a few additional one apply to HTC Sense. Whilst it initially seems overwhelming there isn’t much that can be done with most of the personalisation.


I had hoped there would be a decent amount of options for the Pen, maybe to switch off some of the intrusive menus when working with the Scribe but there was very little. The tutorial is pretty handy and covers a lot of handy features.

It was nice to see a mains charger and USB cable in the box. Recently companies have been cheekily expecting you to share the USB data cable with the power cable. I guess this is due to MicroUSB becoming standard and people have a few lying around, so why should the manufacturer go to the extra cost of adding one you might not need?
That said, the MicroUSB connection on each of the cables is a little odd looking but worry not your current MicroUSB cables will work on the Flyer. However, the ones you get with the Flyer will work on nothing but.

Battery life on the Flyer is not an issue. I gave this one good charge and used it as my primary tablet for 3days and the battery was then exhausted. I wasn’t watching movies as i would frequently do on a tablet however i was playing the odd game and general correspondence. I would say you will happily see 8 hours of use.

HTC Watch is a movie marketplace for the Flyer user. Initially I had hoped that movies you have already would show in HTC Watch’s library however none of the differently formatted movies showed up in the library. A shame.
The Watch experience is expensive. There is a rather limited selection, roughly 70 movies and a couple of full season of popular TV shows, and I feel that HTC have cobbled together a basic collection without wanting to push too hard in case I doesn’t take off. Every title in HTC Watch’s catalogue can be gotten on DVD for cheaper than being asked here. Even Rental prices are a little more than you would expect to pay for a flick in your local library. Not all films can be purchased, some are only available for rental and vice verse with some for sale only.

The camera was a feature I had fairly high hopes for. Recent HTC phones have seen some particularly impressive images. With no LED flash, that you would probably have expected, the camera is functional if a little flat in it’s results. There is an obvious compression issue with the 5 mega-pixels the device has to play with.




You can also monkey around with some predefined specifications to alter your image and have a little fun.



The Flyer is pretty good. I can’t imagine it ever being a sensation, or even terribly popular. There are some who are waiting for it and will overlook some of the problems but for those who are looking to pick up a tablet you will find better elsewhere. HTC have spent a lot of time thinking of new ideas to make the Flyer stand out and they haven’t gone unnoticed. The Scribe technology might feel like a glorified Evernote add-on but it’s remarkably handy and will make a big difference to the productivity of the user. HTC Sense is evolving into a full blown Operating System and given the polished nature it’s easily the finest example of an Android overlay.

The HTC Flyer performs the job it sets out to do well. There is a feel of quality in the device and heads will turn as you whip it out to note something important. There is a market now for peripherals, whoever buys a Flyer will find themselves on the internet searching for a a better solution to attach pen pretty quickly. Or possibly buying a few pens as they will inevitably be lost, left at home or in a different jacket pocket.

The direct competitor is the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and with the recent price reduction to £250 makes the Tab the choice for an Android Gingerbread tablet. The HTC Flyer is £600 and for that you get a faster processor, the Scribe technology and HTC Sense. As lovely as the HTC Flyer is I don’t think that justifies the £350 difference.


Review by: Gareth

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
Loading Facebook Comments ...

Post a Comment

No Trackbacks.