One Week With My HTC Flyer

I’d been nibbling around the edges of the tablet world since late last year, trying to figure out when to get one, what to get, whether it’d be good to buy now or if I should wait…all of that.

While I have an iPhone and it works great, I’ve been less and less happy about Apple’s behavior with regards to their mobile devices and app store.  They’ve engaged in a fair bit of censorship, are trying to restrict third party’s ability to conduct commerce inside of apps used on their devices, and are very very protectionist of their devices, with crazy EULAs and such things.  They’re protecting their very valuable IPs, and trying make money, which is fine.  But I decided that if I could get a tablet and have it not be an iPad, while still doing the things I wanted it to, I’d be happy.

Here’s what I wanted out of a tablet:

  • Something that can play audio and video, with good playlist and sorting
  • Access to the burgeoning tablet/touchscreen video game market (as a player)
  • eBook reading capability (with a bigger screen than my little iPhone).
  • A larger storage capacity, so I could shift much of the mobile music burden from my phone (which burns down its battery very fast).
  • Something sturdy — since I travel a lot and can be rough on my tech.
  • A device that would work with a stylus, especially as handwriting recognition tech increases.
  • It must look cool and have an intuitive GUI, while still leaving me with a lot of control over the device.
I did a fair amount of scouting, looking at the iPad 2, the Motorola Xoom, as well as previews of the HP TouchPad and this thing called the HTC Flyer.  HTC’s reputation is mostly as a smartphone company, but their proprietary GUI (Graphic User Interfase) is very cool, and I saw that a WiFi 7″ tablet with stylus add-on was coming from Best Buy.
I picked mine up in NYC a little over a week ago, and am only now getting it into fighting shape, since I’ve been on the road since the 20th and hadn’t been able to spend serious time getting a handle on how best to use the Flyer.
First Impressions:
  • The real price of the Flyer is $580, because the stylus was broken out into an accessory.  This let Best Buy advertise the device at $500, when it really needs the stylus to do all of what it can do.  Kind of annoying, but that’s something to blame on Best Buy, not HTC.
  • The Flyer has a good heft to it, and feels fairly sturdy.
  • I’m still getting used to the HTC Sense version of Android, but it makes a bit more sense every day.  I have a lot more control and fiddly power with this than I would with an iPad.  And I like to fiddle.
  • AirSync and DoubleTwist are brilliant.
  • The crucial feature that makes the Flyer a great work asset is the fact that I can use the stylus to ‘write’ in my publishers’ catalog pdfs or order sheets, and save them/send them to myself.  This should be huge, and save a lot of paper.
  • I screwed up applying the ZAGG shield, and now I have to figure out if there’s a way to salvage it (there is dirt on the sticky side, so all sorts of flecks show on the screen) or if I just need to buy another one and get it professionally installed (which would be annoying, and waste the $$ I spent on the first shield).
  • My hope is that having the Flyer will let me drain my phone battery much less frequently when on the road, so I don’t have to re-charge while driving or risk shutdown.
  • More to come as I learn the ropes of this nifty, vote-my-politics-with-my-money device.

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