Best Buy will begin selling its exclusive WiFi-only HTC Flyer this Sunday, May 22nd, for $499. The wad of cash will get buyers a portable device with a 7-inch WSVGA capacitive touchscreen running Android 2.3.3 enhanced with a tablet-optimized version of HTC Sense 2.1. What it won't get them is the digital pen that makes the Flyer unique; unfortunately, that's sold separately.
Fortunately, HTC sent me Best Buy's Flyer and the pen today for review. I've spent most of the day playing with the tablet and will be posting my thoughts and possibly a few videos about my experiences over the next few weeks. But before I get into all of that, let me show you what's inside the box.
In addition to the tablet, the simple box contains a charger, USB cable, and some paperwork.
I also got the pen (in non-retail packaging) but as I write this, hours after I took the Flyer out of the box, I still haven't put the battery in. Inking, annotating, and scribbling aren't of much interest to me in general, so trying out the pen wasn't my first priority, especially because I ran into some problems getting the unit connected to my WiFi network. It's working correctly now (no idea what the issue was) but the troubleshooting put a wrench in my plans so I haven't had a chance to check out the pen yet. I'll do that soon, though, and will put up a dedicated post about it.
Sprint's upcoming version of this device, the EVO View 4G, looks much sleeker and more sophisticated, so my first impression of the silver and white Flyer's appearance wasn't anything noteworthy. I just took it out, looked at it, thought "okay," and moved on.
The size is good, though it's a little too big for me to hold comfortably with one hand. It fits nicely in my husband's palm (he actually said it's the perfect size when he held it), so I guess most men won't have the same trouble cradling the device that I do.
The hardware may not have made a significant impression on me, but the software sure did. HTC Sense is actually my favorite custom UI available for Android (I use it daily on my EVO 4G and new ThunderBolt), so I was immediately at home and in love with the Flyer when I turned it on (and managed to get online).
I'm already familiar with most of the elements of Sense 2.1 for Tablet because of the various custom ROMs with Sense 2.x and 3.0 I've flashed on my EVO, so everything was instantly familiar and just feels right. The UI scales well and makes the device attractive and enjoyable to use.
Sadly, I noticed some sluggishness while launching apps and moving through the system, and scrolling is definitely not what could be described as buttery or silky smooth. Maybe I'm just spoiled by all the awesome ROMs I've tried on my other devices, but as soon as I detected some of the lag, I went in search of a way to root the Flyer. I still haven't found a way to do it yet but maybe that's for the best. This is just a loaner device from HTC, after all, so I probably shouldn't tinker with it too much. Then again, unrooting isn't impossible to do…
For the time being, however, I'll stick to a stock setup to get a feel for what mainstream consumers who think "root" is something that only concerns gardeners will experience with the Flyer. Sense is packed with a lot of eye candy that is sure to influence a lot of purchases and so far, I think we're looking at a very low return rate here.
And that's all I'll say about this lovely tablet for now.
Let me know if there's anything about the Flyer that you want to know more about, and I'll try to cover it in future posts.
Thanks to HTC for sending this along!