What's hot: Portable, pen for notes, data anywhere.
What's not: Runs phone OS rather than Honeycomb.
Less than a month after HTC released the HTC Flyer 7" Android tablet, Sprint released their version as the HTC EVO View 4G. These two tablets are the same beast with a few key differences: the EVO View 4G adds 3G/4G on Sprint's network, it has a metallic gray back and internal storage capacity is increased from 16 gigs to 32 gigs. We won't rehash here; for the detailed review, check out our HTC Flyer review.
The EVO View 4G is a 7" Android tablet with a 1024 x 600 capacitive multi-touch display. It sets itself apart from other tablets because you can use it with HTC's optional $80 Scribe pen to take notes and draw. At release, Sprint was offering the pen for free with the HTC EVO View 4G with contract, but we don't know how long that offer will run. The EVO View runs on a 1.5GHz single core Snapdragon CPU with 32 gigs of storage, WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth with a full set of profiles and GPS. It has both front and rear cameras and can do video chat using Qik software included with the tablet.
The View 4G has 3G EV-DO Rev. A and 4G WiMAX for data but not cellular voice. Reception was solid on both 3G and 4G in our tests, and download speeds on 4G hit 6Mbps outdoors (WiMAX 4G is high spectrum so building penetration is an issue). This data connection makes the tablet more useful for tasks like Google Maps and navigation on the go where WiFi isn't an option.
The HTC EVO View 4G runs Android OS 2.3.3 Gingerbread, which is both its strength and weakness. Gingerbread is a phone OS that's not as well optimized for tablet use unlike Android Honeycomb 3.x. The View 4G thus feels and acts like an oversized Android smartphone. The good news is that HTC had free reign to customize the OS (Google isn't yet allowing manufacturers to heavily customize Honeycomb tablets), and HTC Sense 2.1 for tablets that corresponds to HTC Sense 3.0 for Android phones, makes the tablet more friendly and easy to use. HTC was also able to add the pen support; a unique though not far-reaching enough feature. The pen works in the notes app (Evernote) and in the ebook reader (Kobo), but nowhere else.
Is it an oversized phone (minus voice) or a really cool tablet? The HTC Flyer is both. It runs the phone version of Android OS and honestly looks like some of HTC's higher end Android smartphones, just bigger. But HTC's software turns this tablet into a compelling offering, especially for less technical types who don't want to hunt for apps that meet their needs. Out of the box you get video rentals, ebooks, detailed weather information, kid mode and note-taking on steroids thanks to HTC's partnership with Evernote. It's fun and easy to use. Whether you're a techophobe or a geek, the digital pen might just push you over the edge to the Flyer if note-taking, diagraming and drawing are your thing. But we're torn: if the EVO View 4G gets the Honeycomb update, it will likely lose some of its charm in terms of ease of use and the customized UI. But without Honeycomb, we're stuck feeling like it's a fresh coat of paint on last year's technology.