I Almost Bought an HTC Flyer Yesterday. Here’s Why I Didn’t

HTC FlyerI had a couple of hours or so to kill yesterday so I thought I’d hop over to the local Best Buy and go hands on with the HTC Flyer. I’ve been intrigued with Sumocat’s live coverage as he uses a review unit while on a road trip for business. You know how these sorts of things go. You say you’re just going to look, but before you go you make sure you check your credit card balance just in case.

Well, I got to Best Buy found the device and (surprise) a very friendly sales person who quickly responded to my request to hand over a stylus to check out the Flyer. They left me a lone to play research for some time. Of course I was most interested in checking out the Inking features and I have to say I was more than pleasantly surprised at how well it works for note taking. The integration with Evernote is well done and there is no problem with the digitizer and stray marks from your palm or hand resting on the screen.

I had to take a breath as I was feeling a purchase coming on, so I hiked around the store a bit and came back to the device. After working with it for about another 20 minutes I decided not to make the purchase. Here’s why.

  • While it is easy to lay down Ink there are some problems for me. First, I don’t like the click clack sound of the stylus on the screen. I find it annoying after using Tablet PCs that didn’t give me that issue or an iPad that doesn’t either. Second, I like to Ink in portrait mode. It works on the Flyer but I felt more cramped than I wanted to.
  • While you can get the pen cheaper elsewhere, the $80 bucks that Best Buy is charging is just wrong. That is just a poor marketing decision on both HTC and Best Buy’s part. If you’re going to create a device that uses Inking as its differentiator, include the damn stylus for no extra cost. It’s like calling yourself a baseball player and not having a bat.
  • The device feels cheap to me. Between the feel of the device’s material in my hand and the color scheme it increasingly felt like a toy the more I worked with it.
  • Why spend money (besides gadget lust) on a device that will theoretically have the Honeycomb update in the future (not a sure thing) or be surpassed by a Honeycomb version either before or after the update may or may not be available?
  • I looked at some eBooks and did not like how it felt reading. That’s crazy I know given the size of the screen compared to a Kindle (yeah, I still use one of those in addition to an iPad) but something just did not feel right in the experience. I can’t pin it down but it was a visceral dislike.
  • Three flash videos I tried to play responded well. Seven others crashed. I want my tablet to hit better than .300 if I’m going to take advantage of FLASH. Actually, I want it to work all the time. The sales person’s reasoning why the crashing occurred blamed it on everything but FlASH, and some of that could be true. But when she said that FLASH also crashed on the iPad (it can’t crash if it isn’t a capability) and every other device, well…. yeah, that’s a winning sales pitch.

So, in the end I decided against the purchase. I think I’m glad I did. Keep in mind that you may find my objections to the HTC Flyer not objectionable at all. But these kind of purchases are very personal ones. At least you can go try the device out for yourself and see how it feels for you.

 

 

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    One note. The clicking pen is a problem common to all n-Trig next generation pens. They’ve put a battery and transmitter in the pen to reduce the power needed for the screen’s grid. This would be a good thing except that the mechanics are apparently more complex and noisier than a Wacom pen.

    • shellcourt says

      Best Buy charges an additional $80 for the stylus?  That’s so weird???  I got mine the other day, and the stylus and a leather pouch are included in the box, sold as a package!!!

  2. Sumocat says

    About the eBooks: I think the eReading experience is diminished by the quality of the sample books included on the Flyer. The Art of War, for example, is taken straight from The Gutenberg Project with editor notes included and words broken by accents that fall next to letters instead of over them. HTC did themselves no favors by using these raw ebooks as their samples.

  3. Kenrick says

    There’s still some clacking, but I have a Zagg screen protector on mine and I like the feel of writing much better than on the glass.

  4. Stylii says

    I made the purchase and am really enjoying my Flyer, using it as my primary note-taking device for meetings and phone messages. The syncing of ink notes between it, my tablet PC and Windows Mobile phone is great. The clacking is there, but not too bad, especially if you write as I do using cursive. I also added a screen protector ( the stock Sprint 3.5″ x 6″ version for the Galaxy Tab) which makes the inking even smoother.  The color scheme is easy to change to something less “toy-like” and I added the Targus Truss Case (for the Playbook) which opens like a book and also serves as a stand so it looks more business-like (although it currently is my  favorite toy, er productivity tool…).

  5. dstrauss says

    If only we could find a vendor to custom design tablets to OUR SPECS (ha ha). I’ve owned iPad, Slate 500, Xoom, Nook Color (CM7), and Flyer. Without a doubt, I found the Flyer to be the best “compromise” device because they are all compromises in one form or fashion. Even so, I returned it to Best Buy because it won’t recognize an ad hoc wireless network, so connecting to my phone is not an option, and it is just lacking as a WiFi only device (here’s hoping for root access). I decided to wait and check out the Sprint HTC View version with double the storage (32gb) and included pen for $399 (I know, $20/month for 1gb 3g data as well).

    All of that said, the Flyer is truly an amazing little device. Inking is FAR SUPERIOR to any combination of stylus and note taking app on the iPad 1 or 2, and N-Trig is better than on the Slate 500 (still not comparable to Wacom). At first I thought their design decision was weird (pen is only for writing/drawing – not system controls) but it is genius – I get less interference with my inking than evn on my Wacom HP 2740p.

    Software responsiveness is as snappy as the iPad, and I actually prefer its browser to Safari (faster, and best of all text always reformats to fit the space you create – so when you zoom in on a text box, the text gets larger and reflows into the available space). 

    The Sense UI is far better than any other Android launcher, including Android 3.x. This is truly a value added feature and I hope they do not update to Honeycomb unless/until they customize Sense to fit it AND doesn’t rely on Honeycomb only apps.

  6. Yethan56 says

    You made the right decision. I bought one 2weeks ago and is totally piss off with the performance(slow, laggy, heavy rom usage,etc..) and is waiting for honeycomb upgrade. If it still cannot perform within my expectation that is simply “must be able to use normally(very humble request)”, then it will definately be in the trash!!!

  7. Yethan56 says

    Other irritating problems i have is the battery that when fully charged and left unuse overnight for one day, it drops about 30 pct and lastly, try using on landscape mode and the keyboard goes wild and responses becomes crazy! Surely it must go into the trash if it cannot work as normal after the honeycomb upgrade which i hope is very soon as I am losing patience. Intend to buy a viliv X70 or motion CL 900 that will cost me $1900(win 7 ultimatly previals for work users and full web surfing)

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