Rumours of an HTC tablet have been swirling around for quite some time now and this morning it has finally unveiled its first tentative steps into the crazy world that is Android tablet PCs.
The HTC Flyer is a 7in device with an aluminum unibody industrial design and features a brand new version of Sense, designed specifically for tablet devices. Sense will be running over Android 2.4 or Gingerbread, out of the box. HTC tells us that 2.4 (which is the version of Gingerbread running on all the HTC devices announced today) is basically 2.3 with a couple of bug fixes and users will notice nothing different. HTC told us the Flyer will be updated to Honeycomb over the air “soon after” release. The new Sense UI will include 3D widgets on the home screen and we will be seeing multi-pane browsing in all apps.
Along with Sense, HTC are touting a number of features ,which it hopes will set this apart from the avalanche of tablets we’ve seen in the past couple of days. The first of these is the inclusion of an active stylus, which will allow for precision input to enable creativity, taking notes or signing PDF documents via the new HTC Scribe Technology. Indeed there will be a new app called Notes specifically for this purpose. The stylus will be held in the accompanying case rather than somewhere on the tablet itself.
The next feature that will set it apart from its Android rivals is the HTC Watch app, its new video download service. The service, which comes about following the $40 million investment by HTC in Saffron Digital, enables low-cost on-demand downloading of hundreds of HD movies from major studios. The final part of the Flyer jigsaw is completed by its access to OnLive’s cloud-based gaming service. Gamers will be eventually able to get access to games like Assassin’s Creed, NBA 2K11 and Lego Batman and play the games either on the tablet itself or piped to a DNLA compatible television.
Other than that, the Flyer does't really distinguish itself that much though it will be powered by a Qualcomm 1.5GHz processor, will come initially as a 3G Wi-Fi model with a Wi-Fi only model coming down the line, comes with 1GB of RAM, 32Gb of flash storage, a 5 megapixel rear camera and 1 megapixel front-facing camera as well as a microSD card slot. The 7in screen has a resolution of 1024 x 600 and charging for the device will be by way of a micro USB port.
We managed to grab a pre-MWC look at this device in London last week and the first thing we noticed was how heavy it was for its size. It certainly was a good-looking device with the aluminum casing and white accents on the back. The device we were looking at didn’t have the software working so we will have to wait and see what the new Sense looks like in Barcelona. HTC told us the Flyer would be available in early Q2 and when pushed on a price for the product they told us it would be aimed at the premium end of the market and would carry a premium price as a result. Not such good news then.