HTC Flyer review: day two
Available from Clove for £562.80
My second day with the Flyer has been all about entertainment. Despite the business leanings built in to the stylus and some of the apps included, HTC has made efforts to ensure that entertainment is high on the agenda. In the case of the Flyer, HTC seems to have worked a magic not seen on many of their smartphones and come up trumps in specific areas.
Audio quality is excellent, it truly is, and music pumps out of a decent set of headphones in a manner that will please all, but the most obsessive audiophile. The music software is pleasing to use and makes scrolling through tracks as easy as can be, and overall the audio side impressed me much more than I expected. Even the external speaker is quite good and loud enough to share your media with others. It lacks some depth, but would suffice for watching a film without headphones if need be.
There are some sound settings built in to the music player and these are, as usual, hit and miss. They work well enough, but do make you fiddle around when you don’t need to. This is a problem with all devices that attempt to offer specific sound environments for different types of music and you are better off finding one you like and using it for all types of music. Irrespective of the above, the audio quality is very, very good.
I transferred a couple of films over and started watching one with headphones attached. It looked good and everything was in sync, and then I discovered a little icon bottom left of the video menu. I tapped it and the sound burst into life, I tapped it again and surround sound arrived. There are multiple options available here, but for someone like me who still owns an old standard definition television, the inclusion of surround sound makes the entire experience much more immersive than I have seen on other tablets. I loved it and don’t like the thought of watching films and TV episodes on my smartphone again.
I tested many mediums including YouTube and I found the experience to be crisp and clear thanks to the 1024 x 600 screen and it worked much better than I had initially expected. I could live with the Flyer as an entertainment device and the sound capabilities push it up even further in my estimation.
The inclusion of Watch is most welcome and offers the ability to download and rent movies directly on the Flyer. The catalogue is not big at the moment and the pricing is on the high side, but the option to do this is a step forward. With Google Movies on the horizon, we are likely to see greater competition in this space and thus the pricing should be driven downwards.
Watch offers movies at roughly the same price as iTunes to purchase and rent, but there are some strange omissions within the current set up. For example, a browse through the TV episodes brought up no pricing at all and I had to set up an account to even see the prices. On this occasion I didn’t want to go that far.
The 5 Megapixel camera on the back is OK, but doesn’t feel like a 5 Megapixel camera at all to me. It’s not too bad and can take some good snaps, but doesn’t even rival the cameras HTC puts in its smartphones so don’t expect too much. There is also a 1.3 Megapixel on the front for video calling and that’s your lot.
The software available for video calling currently is limited and using a tablet for taking photos and video is never going to be high on the list of priorities so the actual quality of the camera is never going to have a huge impact. It is ironic that the camera here is way better than most tablets so that says a lot about cameras on tablets and how seriously manufacturers are taking them.
Looks like I had the Flyer the wrong way around, but as you can see you won't be using it as your main video camera.
Gaming and apps
I haven’t had much time to play with games on the Flyer so far, but Angry Birds works so what more do I need in life? Joking aside, the use of Gingerbread does throw up some inconsistencies when it comes to apps. For example, engadget will only run in a small window as does a checkers game I tried, but every other app and game I have installed so far works full screen and if high resolution.
There has been a lot of discussion about the use of Gingerbread and app compatibility (Honeycomb coming soon), but for most users the number of apps available from the Android Market will be more than enough. The lack of any warning that an app is not fully compatible doesn’t help the experience though and it would be nice to see this sorted.
I have been fairly happy with what is available so far, however, and will continue to explore before making a final judgement on Flyer apps and games.
That’s it for today. Tomorrow will look at my first day using the Flyer at work. For some unknown reason, I feel like the Flyer will fit my working day better than other tablets I have used. I may be wrong though.