HTC Flyer- it plays Angry Birds, too!

Here is my first reveiw – The HTC Flyer Tablet.  The original version can be read here on The Eastern Echo’s website or Monday’s issue can be picked up on campus.

For those of you that love to drink the Apple Kool-Aid – as tasty as it is – there are other tablet products on the shelf. Where are these tablets, you ask? They are usually tucked away next to the broom closet and discounted tape players, forgotten amongst the iPad craze.

One manufacturer, HTC, a Taiwanese company, who has had long running success in the smartphone market with its large selection of Android, Windows Phone, Windows Mobile and Palm OS devices, is dipping its toes in the tablet market as well. One of their more interesting tablets is the HTC Flyer.

The HTC Flyer is an Android 2.3 based tablet with a 7-inch 1024×600 resolution capacitive touch screen, 1.5GHz dual core Snap Dragon processor and 16GB of internal storage space.

If you are looking for a tablet to use in class, don’t worry, the HTC Flyer plays Angry Birds and it’s free. The tablet itself, not so much. The HTC Flyer is selling for $499.99 (plus tax), exclusively at your local Best Buy. But, if you’re smart, you can dart over to Amazon.com and buy one new for $500.00 or used for $379.00, without the pressure of buying any add on merchandise.

There are two cameras on the Flyer; a rear-facing 5 megapixel one and a forward facing 1.3 megapixel one. I wasn’t impressed with the quality of either. Although, I was impressed by the battery life, which lasted 10 hours on normal usage.

What might be the most beneficial feature of the HTC Flyer is a preloaded app called HTC Notes. In order to use the Notes program you need to purchase the Scribe Digital Pen for $79.99 from Best Buy, or $52.99 new on Amazon.com.

If a stylus feels so 1998, well, honestly, it kind of is. Tapping away on a modern tablet with a stylus may feel outdated, but the functions it allows you to do are strictly 21st century.

Notes allows you to literally write on the tablet within the HTC Notes app. But it just doesn’t let you jot down a few scribbles of tic-tac-toe in a varying array of pens, pencils, and makers.

It has also unique function that will allow you to record sound while taking notes.This allows one to not only go back and review the notes, but also listen to a lecture as well. People whose handwriting is comparable to early Egyptian hieroglyphics will find this function useful. The features are reminiscent of the popular, with college students, LiveScribe pen.

The notes feature gets better; with the 5 megapixel camera you can take a photo and embed itself within the notes. Is there an interesting or useful graph you may need later? Just snap a photo and it is in your notes for later referencing.

If your organization skills topped out at a sixth grade level, HTC Notes will even help you keep them organized. Instead of searching though files and files of notes, the program will let you sync your notes to your Google Calendar.

Say you had class last Tuesday at noon and you have that scheduled. The notes you took that day in class can be saved to the specific date and time in your calendar so you can go back and access them.

The final upside to HTC Notes is its Evernote connectivity. Evernote is a program for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, WebOS and web that allows you to save and synchronize your notes from one device and instantly access them from any other device with an Evernote app or web access. The Flyer comes with Evernote pre-installed.

Evernote has cataloguing capabilities and text-in-photo scanning abilities so any image with text can be categorized and made searchable.

HTC notes and Evernote aren’t the only apps you can get. The HTC Flyer has access to Google’s ever growing Android Market, which has a very high percentage of free apps. . Popular free apps include Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Google Maps, Pandora internet radio, and of course the ever popular Angry Birds.

The Flyer is only connectable via 802.11n Wi-Fi, and there is no 3G version available.

If you want to enable the Evernote synching you will need to be connected to the internet via WiFi. Although, some might see this as a drawback, not having a 3G connection also means you don’t have to purchase any expensive data plans, or pay the standard $70 3G upcharge for the hardware.

Even though the HTC Flyer tablet may not have the shine and polish of the coveted Apple tablet, but for those you who think the Apple Kool-Aid is a little to bitter, the HTC Flyer can be a viable, and smaller, alternative.

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