A smooth, handy tablet computer – with a major flaw
Many of the tablet computers we've looked at have been disappointing, largely because the Android operating system is designed for phones, not larger-sized tablet screens.
But that's been rectified with the release of Android 3 ‘Honeycomb' and some excellent tablets that use it (see sidebar).
But the 7in Flyer from HTC uses the older Android 2.3 instead. HTC has added the Sense interface that it uses on its phones, which adds some visual flair and helps with usability, but it's hard to escape the feeling that the Flyer could have been a lot better.
Unlike many Android 2.3 tablets it's fast – true to its name it really flew along in our tests. Choosing and opening apps was a breeze, the sharp and clear screen was quick to respond to button-presses and even demanding apps worked smoothly.
That's mainly down to the fast 1.5GHz processor, 1GB of memory and other good components. It comes with a choice of 16GB or 32GB of long-term storage. A five-megapixel rear camera is complemented by a 1.3-megapixel one on the front for video chat.
It connects to wireless networks and Bluetooth devices, and the 32GB model we reviewed will connect to a mobile network if you insert a suitable Sim card.
It's small and thin and fitted into a pocket easily, and at 415g it's not light but not heavy either. It's well built, with nicely rounded edges and a pleasant white finish. As well as being able to type on the screen, users can also use the supplied stylus to tap icons and enter text.
The Flyer worked fine with most of the apps we tried, and although the browser crashed a couple of times, by and large it worked smoothly. However, new apps designed for Android 3 won't work.
HTC has been promising since it announced the Flyer that an upgrade to Honeycomb would be out ‘shortly after launch', but there's still nothing to be seen, and HTC's representative told us there was no news on the matter.
It seems a shame to make such a powerful tablet computer and limit it with an older operating system.
Still, at the time of writing there are no 7in Android 3 tablets on sale, so if the small size is important, the HTC Flyer will be a good choice, especially as it's on sale for £480 online.
Otherwise we'd plump for a larger-screen Android 3 model.
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An impressive tablet computer that's hampered by an older version of the operating system
Good size; great screen; fast and responsive
Uses Android 2.3; relatively expensive
Phone 0845 890 0079
£600 (32GB with wi-fi and 3G)
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