The second iPad has been launched and we are still searching for the tablet that will provide competition to the iPad. The Motorola Xoom, for all that it had been promising, has not exactly delivered on everything that was talked about it. One gadget that has however not been as much talked about but has pleasantly surprised us is HTC’s seven inch tablet, the Flyer. I had a chance to use it for a few hours and I think that if could do what other planned Android tablets cannot – give the iPad a good challenge. These are the reasons for my thinking so:
You know, we love the unibody aluminum looks of the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air. HTC, I think, has actually managed to bring that to the Flyer, making it look very different from the mainly-plastic builds of other tablets in the market. I don’t know about you, and this is a personal preference, but I would feel very comfortable showing off this tablet.
I have had the occasion to use the Motorola Xoom tablet and please believe me, even though I have been handling Android for almost three years, it took me some time to get used to it. Android Honeycomb is VERY different from previous versions of Android. However, the Android I saw on the Flyer did not seem too different from Android 2.2 or 2.3 that I have been seeing on cellphones. Some people might not like this, but I think it will make the device easier to use – so many of us prefer to see a familiar interface than a new one.
Any one who has been using an HTC device – and there are many such people – will find the Sense interface very ease to use. Of all the skins of Android, this is, I think, the easiest and most intuition-friendly, and would also look very good on a tablet (not like Samsung’s Touch Wiz, which looks a bit ordinary on the bigger screen). On the Flyer, it works very nicely.
I have been saying since a long time that what makes the iPad a good (maybe even great) device. One of the issues with the first Galaxy Tab was that not all Android apps ran properly on it – which also happened with the Xoom. However, this does not seem to be the case in the Flyer – most of the apps I tried worked just fine on it. If this is what can happen on the final unit too, the Flyer will be the most “app-rich” since the iPad.
In terms of specifications, the Flyer comes with everything – a good processor, good cameras, and a very nice display. The unit I used behaved very well indeed. The HTC person who was with it said that it would be able to support more updates to Android.
I think that one of the big problems with the iPad is its size, which does not let you put it in your coat and in some sense, makes it like a netbook that has to be carried in a bag. The Flyer’s form factor makes it perfect to be easily carried – a factor that could be crucial.
So that is why I think the Flyer could be the challenger to the iPad – it has the looks, the apps, the specs, and is also better in the portability sense. Now, a lot will depend on the price. But if HTC can get that right, the Flyer could take off.