Finger-friendly tablets running the stock version of Android Honeycomb are everywhere at Mobile World Congress, but not at the HTC booth, where the company has taken a completely fresh approach with the 7-inch Flyer slate. Due in Q2 of this year, the Flyer combines an active stylus with a unique tablet-friendly version of HTC's attractive sense UI running on top of Android Gingerbread OS. The integration of an active stylus with Android is a bold move that could open up the tablet market to students, mobile workers, or anyone that likes to write or draw.
Under the 7-inch, 1024 x 600 screen of the HTC Flyer, you'll find a 1.5-GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and support for HSPA+ networks. Front and back cameras (1.3 and 5-MP) allow for video chat. Users will be able to charge the device via the tablet's microUSB port (though it's unclear if a computer's USB port will offer enough juice to charge it). However, these specs are really nothing unique or special. It's the pen that makes the Flyer really intriguing.
HTC is uses an active pen based on N-Trig's DuoSense 3.5 capacitive pen technology. We've seen a demo of DuoSense 3.5 running on a windows-based netbook and were impressed with the pressure-sensitive pen's ability to draw fine lines. The Flyer is the first Android device ever to use DuoSense.
More important than the hardware that powers the pen is the software HTC has built into the tablet. As you'll see in the video below, the device not only has some pen-friendly apps, but also has pen-support deeply integrated into many of its apps. A pen button sits next to the capacitive menu buttons on the bottom of the bezel and, if you tap it, the Flyer immediately takes a screen shot of your current activity and lets you draw on top of that shot and print, share, or save it. Applications such as the eReader allow you to draw annotations or even highlight text. Of course, you have a standard drawing app that lets you scrawl on top of your photos too.
Next-Gen Note Taking
The most compelling application of all, however, is the note-taking app which integrates with Evernote, syncs with your calendar, and even records audio. If you record audio while taking notes, the playback of the audio is synced with each word you've written so you can just tap on that word and hear the audio from the moment you wrote it. Just imagine sitting in a meeting taking notes and then being able to go back and hear what was being said when you wrote a note!
On top of the pen support, the HTC Flyer has attractive music and video stores and also supports OnLive for cloud-based gaming. Check out the hands-on video below for a closer look at this unique slate.