HTC Flyer Review: Wrap-up + Shortcut Video
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HTC Flyer Review: Wrap-up + Shortcut Video

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My time with the HTC Flyer has come to an end, and my extended live and un-live review goes with it. It’s not a perfect device by any means, but overall I found it quite good, and I see many ways it could be truly great.


A Quick Look at the Interface

Before I get into the wrap-up, here’s a quick look at the Flyer’s interface without the pen.

Click here for the iPhone/iPad friendly m4v videos in SD and HD 720 formats.

[For all the parts of this ongoing review of the HTC Flyer, click here.]

Actual vs. Potential

Going into my review, I was looking at the Flyer in two ways. First, as a mobile device being used as is, in the moment. I had one day to get familiar with it then literally put it to work, on-the-job in San Antonio, as seen in my live review. I also looked at it as the test model of HTC’s plan for pen input on Android tablets. Their next, called the Puccini, should already be in production. They intend to release an SDK for developers to build their own pen-based apps. There’s no way I could look at the Flyer and not think about the line of pen tablets to follow.

With that in mind, while I can imagine what the future holds, I can only review the device in hand. From that angle, from that direction, I have to say the Flyer is a tablet with definite appeal, but primarily for folks already shopping for this form factor and/or interested in pen input. If you want a tablet to break the gravity of the black hole in the room, this isn’t it.

Where It Flies

I don’t have much to add about the performance that I haven’t already said or shown. I was impressed with the speed and mobility of the Flyer. It smoothly recorded and reviewed 720p HD video, while a desktop with Intel Core 2 Duo processor chugged through displaying some of those same clips. While the ink was a bit choppy, touch control was very snappy and responsive. I also enjoyed being able to pocket the device (in my gadget satchel) and carry it comfortably all day, for which the battery was more than adequate.

Operating the Flyer was a snap too. There’s a brief tutorial on how to use the pen. After that, you’re ready to go. The pen does what it’s supposed to do. The Sense interface just works. HTC did an excellent job of making this thing user-friendly.

Where It Glides

I think I covered the drawbacks of the Flyer pretty thoroughly throughout my review, and especially in my look at the “rough edges”. On top of that, there is the fact that Android 2.3 runs apps that are designed for phones, not tablets, resulting in an ill fit for the apps I installed, particularly in landscape mode.

The Flyer has a microSD card slot for expanding storage, but popping off the top panel to access it makes it more of an upgradeable system than a swappable one. Far easier to access the card data via the micro-USB port. Powering down or switching to airplane mode can be done by holding down the power button, but only after the device is unlocked.

Where It Crashes

While nothing about the Flyer struck me as horrible, if it has any concrete problems, it’s the price. It matches the entry-level iPad at under $500, but at roughly half the footprint, it looks like you’re getting half as much device. I know it’s not a fair comparison, but perception isn’t always fair, and I found myself trying to justify the price to people more often than I would have liked. And that doesn’t count the sometimes $80 pen. I’m hardly unbiased on this subject, but I believe the pen is the top selling point of the Flyer experience. Without it, it just doesn’t stand out from the Android tablet pack.

Aside from that, the Flyer feels as if it’s incomplete at this point. Being limited to Wi-Fi is a problem if you don’t employ a mobile hotspot solution, but that’s due to it being so mobile that it’s easy to take anywhere. The lack of a place to hold the pen is also an issue, as is the pen’s general existence as an add-on. I found myself saying “I need to add this” or “I really hope they update that” a lot. Most solutions are easy to implement, but when I’m always seeing points for improvement, that means there’s much that needs improving.

Closing

Again, it comes down to actual vs. potential. The Flyer’s pen features are easy to use because they are focused on a few tasks. The paneled interface is a snap, but I found it less useful than I’d expected. The potential for improvement and expansion is there, and I can see where it can go. Until it gets there, the Flyer sort of stands in the shadow of its future self.

What’s promising is that, aside from connectivity and pen integration, the drawbacks I encountered are primarily on the software side. The hardware is solid. The processor is single core, but it trucks. The display, while hard to see in daylight, is vivid and has active pen input. The device as a whole feels sturdy and able to survive a few years of use. I am confident the hardware can keep up with future software improvements and the promised upgrade to Android 3.x.

It’s up to the buyer to decide if they want to settle with the current limitations and wait for those updates to trickle in, or hold off until the software is further along (and perhaps get a model with updated hardware too). While some people will be more than happy with the Flyer as is, that’s the overall purchase proposition I see with this device. The Flyer is a good tablet that may yet be great, emphasis on “yet”.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Dxhunter

    06/21/2011 at 3:46 pm

    One of the reasons the Flyer is more expensive is probably the hardware under the glass that makes the pen work. Think about taking the cost of the Galaxy Tab and adding the cost of a Wacom tablet and you get closer to the price that HTC is asking. But why they would sell the Flyer without the pen or why someone would buy it without one at that price is beyond me. 

  2. Willem Evenhuis

    06/21/2011 at 6:46 pm

    I’ll wait for a better upgrade

  3. Willem Evenhuis

    06/21/2011 at 6:55 pm

    Great reviews by the way. Keep up the good work. Inking is back on GBM!

  4. JJ

    06/22/2011 at 4:45 am

    Nice job man. Great review series.

  5. Kyith

    06/24/2011 at 11:39 pm

    I personally tried out my colleague’s flyer. My take: Really sturdy device! solid feel. The speed is good as well with Launcher pro. The price of SGD 788 is ok i feel.

    the bad: the stylus is shit. you can only use it to write ink, you can’t use it to select on capacitative! lol.

    • Sumocat

      06/25/2011 at 1:24 am

      Try the other end. :)

      • Kyith

        06/25/2011 at 1:35 am

        oh shit! that is so stupid of me!

  6. Kyith

    06/24/2011 at 11:40 pm

    on this note, what do you guys think of the just announced Archos Gen9 80 and 101 at a very attractive price of USD 249 and 349?

    https://www.productiveorganizer.com/android/cheap-and-good-android-tablets-archos-gen-9-80-and-101-looks-promising/

  7. Tyler

    06/26/2011 at 9:19 pm

    The Flyer is nothing more than a slightly larger HTC Sensation, but it can’t make calls. These 7 inch tablets, especially ones that are nothing more than larger screen phones, aren’t going anywhere.

    • shizuyue

      06/29/2011 at 6:37 pm

      Have you actually tried one?

  8. Anonymous

    06/28/2011 at 12:19 am

    When I was looking around for my flyer every place I looked it came with the pen in the box along with a white leather case that has a slot for the pen to go in.
    Also it has a slot for my sim card so I needed to I can just POP it in and surf anywhere although i don’t bother doing that I use the WiFi hot spot on my HTC desire HD witch serves my needs

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Nexus Android 5.0 Lollipop Release Date: What Not to Expect

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With a Nexus Android 5.0 Lollipop release date all but confirmed for early November, we want to take a look at what we do not expect from the Nexus 10, Nexus 4, Nexus 10, and Nexus 7 Android 5.0 Lollipop release date from Google.

Google’s Android L update was first announced as Android 4.4 KitKat’s successor back in June at Google I/O. At the event, Google did not confirm an Android L release date or name though it did outline many of its features and release a pre-release version to Nexus 7 2013 and Nexus 5 users. In the weeks after that early release, we’ve seen features teased and release dates rumored and earlier this week, Google finally spilled the beans on Android L.

Google’s Android L update, as expected, is called Android 5.0 Lollipop. The update will be accompanied by two new Nexus devices including a Nexus 9 from HTC and a Nexus 6 from Motorola. Both devices will help usher in a new era for Google and its Android operating system. Problem is, Google still hasn’t confirmed a specific Android 5.0 Lollipop release date.

The company confirmed several Android 5.0 Lollipop updates for arrival including updates for the Nexus 5, Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 7 2012, and Nexus 10. Earlier this month, we learned that the Android 5.0 deployment could start in early November for Nexus users. Google still hasn’t confirmed the timing outright and may not.

With that in mind, we want to help paint a release picture for Nexus 5, Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 7 2012, and Nexus 10 users. This will outline what we know so far about the Android 5.0 Lollipop update for Nexus devices and delve into our own expectations. These expectations are based on Google’s history and our own gut feelings about Google’s upcoming release.

Here are 10 things you should not expect from Google’s upcoming Android 5.0 release for Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10.

Nexus Lollipop Release Outside November

At this point, do not expect any Nexus Android 5.0 Lollipop release dates to fall outside the month of November. Google’s official line is “coming weeks” but we fully expect the company to deliver the Android 5.0 Lollipop update next month around the time it delivers the Nexus 9 and Nexus 6 to consumers around the world.

Android Police recently released a document that not only points to an Android 5.0 release in early November but also points to specific release dates for two Nexus devices. The site is very reliable and the information, while not official, should be treated as credible. The document suggests that the Nexus 10 and Nexus 7 Wi-Fi only Android 5.0 updates will arrive on November 3rd. This is the same day that Google plans to release the Nexus 9 on shelves.

iPhone-5s-Nexus-5

The document suggests that the Nexus 5, Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 LTE will all get their updates after the initial Android 5.0 push. No specific dates are mentioned but we simply cannot see them getting released in December. That’s too close to the holidays. Keep in mind, the Nexus 5 is still on shelves as a budget Nexus smartphone option and Google’s not going to want to head into Black Friday with the Nexus 5 missing a key component like Android 5.0.

Look for all of these updates to start pushing in November not December. Similar to what Google did with last year’s Android 4.4 KitKat update that emerged in mid-November. There should not be a wide gap between all of its Android 5.0 release dates. We don’t expect anything other than a three week release window for this upgrade.

Predictable Android 5.0 Lollipop Release Time

While Apple releases its iOS updates in an around 10AM PST, Google’s Android update release times are unpredictable. That is to say, it doesn’t stick to a schedule. In the past, we’ve seen updates released in the morning and we’ve seen Android updates for Nexus devices released in the late in the afternoon following an announcement.

Nexus5-Android5-3

This is an element of the release that Google probably won’t confirm ahead of time which means that users are simply going to have to sit by the device, waiting for the upgrade to pop up. This applies to post-release as well.

Google’s staggered OTA roll outs typically arrive at random, unpredictable times. We’ve seen Nexus updates pop up late at night, we’ve seen them pop up early in the morning. It’s a random process and one that you shouldn’t lose sleep over.

Widespread Installation Problems

Unlike Apple, we typically don’t see major day one installation errors for Nexus Android updates. This is probably a product of Google’s staggered roll outs as opposed to Apple’s immediate push for all compatible devices. Apple’s servers typically crumble under the load of iPhone and iPad users trying to install. Google’s servers typically hold up well because it uses an OTA approach.

We might see some updates get stuck or fail but we should see a majority of updates go off without a hitch. Google’s servers are typically very strong not just on release day but during the entire Android update roll out. Don’t expect to encounter much difficulty here. You should be able to install it right off the bat without any headaches.

Android 5.0 Lollipop Leaks

Do not expect the Android 5.0 Lollipop update to leak for Nexus devices in the build up to the official release. Android updates have a habit of arriving ahead of their release date, often in the form of test builds, but Google and its partners have managed to clamp down on leaks over the years. And with just a few short days to go before a release, we’re not expecting anyone to come up with a surprise Android 5.0 Lollipop leak for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, or the Nexus 5.

Nexus5-Android5

You should expect to have to wait until Google issues the update to the public. Sure, there will be ways around the OTA upgrade but Google’s official manual update option should be the only way to get your hands on Android 5.0 Lollipop before it’s pushed from Google’s servers.

Every App to Match New Look

Finally, do not expect every single Android application to match Google’s new Material Design that’s coming with Android 5.0 Lollipop. We should see some of the bigger applications provide updates that mirror the look and feel of Google’s new Android release but there will be many apps that simply miss the initial boat.

It’s similar to what we’ve seen with Apple’s iOS 7 (a major design overhaul) and iOS 8. Developers took weeks to release apps that mimicked the look of iOS 7’s new design and developers are still pushing out updates to match the look and feel of the iOS 8 upgrade and Apple’s new big screen iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

For more information about Google’s upcoming Android 5.0 Lollipop update, have a look at what we expect from it. This will outline many more key Android 5.0 Lollipop details for Nexus devices.

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GBM Shortcut: HP Elitebook 2760p Bluetooth Audio Streaming from iPhone

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Every time I think I’m done with the HP Elitebook 2760p, something new pops up. It’s like a Swiss Army knife or the Martian Manhunter packed with abilities. This time, it’s Bluetooth pairing with an iPhone or iPad for audio streaming and control.

This post is one in a multi-post review of the HP Elitebook 2760p. Please click here for more.


For iOS-friendly downloads, click here for SD or here for 720p HD.

While pairing my iPhone to the 2760p to test face + Bluetooth login, I accidentally discovered that I could stream audio to the PC through via Bluetooth and control it on the PC side via on-screen control.

By now some of you are questioning why this is even noteworthy. Couldn’t I just hack an Android device to do the same? Maybe, but the key element here is not on the phone side but the PC side. Of my three PCs with Bluetooth, not one is able to stream and control audio from my iPhone, and that includes my HP media PC. They all returned the “drivers could not be found” error. By contrast, the 2760p made the connection without me even trying.

I’ve got Bluetooth on two Tablet PCs. Neither of them are capable of streaming and controlling audio from my iPhone or using Bluetooth for security authentication. The 2760p can do these out of the box. That’s how wireless connections should work.

BTW, if anybody can tell me how to enable this on other PCs, please let us know in the comments. I’ve got three Windows 7 PCs begging to get this functionality.

The Last Word on the 2760p

As you can probably tell by the breadth of my coverage, the 2760p gave me a lot of features to evaluate. There were the usual asked-about features like outdoor visibility and battery life, but I also spent time on seemingly common features like the webcam and Bluetooth connectivity, things that are standard on most notebooks and tablets. So what made these stand out to me? The fact that HP made them useful out of the box.

Yes, you can get Bluetooth on any notebook, but how many are pre-loaded with the necessary software to stream and control audio from a connected device or use that device for login authentication? This machine is not only packed with hardware features but also the software to make them useful out of the box. Assessing this machine was not a matter of asking what hardware it has, but what its hardware can do. This, to me, is what separates the 2760p from the pack. I hope the focus segments of my review were able to get that across to you.

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HP Elitebook 2760p Review: Weight, Stamina, & Toughness

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Like Wolverine from the comic books, the HP Elitebook 2760p convertible tablet packs a lot of power and weight in a relatively small package. Its weight, toughness, and stamina form a triangle of intertwined traits that work with and against each other.

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GBM Shortcut: HP Elitebook 2760p Webcam Challenge

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Camera specs like resolution and fps are good to know but don’t necessarily tell you how good the video and photo quality is. Thus, I thought it would be helpful to share some actual photo and video recorded from the HD webcam of the HP Elitebook 2760p. And I spiced it up a notch by comparing it literally side-by-side with the iPad 2. Here is the result.

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GBM Shortcut: A Day in the Sun with the HP Elitebook 2760p

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It’s the question that gets asked of any tablet: “How’s the outdoor visibility?” So I decided to answer it first with my review of the HP Elitebook 2760p, the latest version in this series of rugged business-class convertibles.

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