General performance of the Flyer is excellent. HTC forewent a dual-core 1GHz CPU and instead opted for a high-speed 1.5GHz single core chip, backed by 1GB of RAM. The result is that while dual-core may well be taken advantage of by apps of the future, right now the Flyer easily keeps pace with the fastest out there. Whether flitting through its ever-so-fancy homepage animations, flipping between multiple apps, or careering through the latest game, it doesn’t miss a beat.
As for that interface, HTC has employed its Sense stylings, heavily overhauling the look and functionality of the Android 2.3 operating system on which it sits. Yes, rather than Google’s tablet specific version of its mobile OS, HTC has modified the phone version – this explains the need for physical buttons on the bezel, while Android 3.0 devices use onscreen buttons.
What these changes entail, then, are manifold. Take the lock screen. To unlock it you simply slide a circle to the edge of the screen. However, you can also drag one of four icons – Mail, Calendar, Internet, Camera – onto the circle to jump straight to that app. Though this sounds gimmicky, it’s actually very useful, saving you a few crucial seconds here and there, and you can change the apps to those of your choice.
Get to the desktop and other changes are also immediately obvious. Instead of icons for Contacts, Email, Web and Phone running along the bottom we have Notes, Reader and Watch. These provide access to three of this tablet’s features the company most wants to celebrate. However, again you can customise these to be whatever you want.
Flanking these three shortcuts are the App launcher on the left and a further menu for customising the interface on the right.
Further changes include the funky spinning homescreens. Flick across from left to right fast enough and rather than just swiping from one homescreen to the next, the view zooms out to a spinning carousel of homescreens. This really is just eye candy but it’s very pretty eye candy. What’s particularly impressive is that HTC has made all its widgets compatible with the rotating animation, giving the impression that they’re physical objects rotating in front of you.
Jump into the App launcher and, as is common now, HTC has paginated it rather having one long list. We’ve never seen the point of this and still don’t on this device. More useful is the Favourites and Downloads tabs, though even here we wonder whether it just adds more complication for little benefit. After all, if I’ve just downloaded an app, I’m fairly likely to know what it’s called to then be able to find it on the main menu.
Drag down the notifications bar from the top and you’ll find a host of useful tools. At the top are recent apps and a permanent link to the task manager, while below are notifications. Tap the quick settings tab and you can quickly turn on/off auto brightness, auto rotation, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi hotspot, mobile network (3G) and Bluetooth or jump straight to the full settings.
Overall it feels like an intuitive, easy to use, and slick interface. Yes, it lacks the simplicity of iOS and doesn’t have some of the tablet oriented niceties of Android 3.0 but, given the device’s size these are far less noticeable than you might expect.