HTC flyer

The part of the HTC Flyer that looks as though it could make or break it is the tablet pen. As we mentioned before, there's a small green touch-sensitive button below the screen, and tapping this with the pen brings up a small quarter-circle in the bottom-right corner.

If you're in an app that doesn't natively support the pen, this will bring up options to launch the Notes app or take a screengrab. In a supported app, it gives you access to the different pen types, colours and thicknesses, with your recently used pen types appearing around the edges.

HTC flyer

It's not hugely intuitive when you first start using it, but follow the tutorial carefully and you'll get the hang of how to go back and forth between the options.

Actually using the pen is impressively responsive, and we've no complaints about the accuracy of writing or drawing. The pressure sensitivity is something of a let-down, though. It basically seems to be two settings: light and hard. We couldn't really get any nuance from it, which slightly spoils the whole point of having a fancy powered accessory.

The pen can be very sensitive, registering inputs from half a centimetre or so above the screen, so you'll have to get used to using it quite carefully.

Beyond the pen, the HTC Flyer is an able performer, but not one that we're blown away by. That said, browsing the web is generally smooth enough. Flash video plays back without a hitch, but having Flash elements on a page does hamper the smoothness of the general browsing experience. This is true of many tablets available now, however.

HTC flyer

Navigating around is slick enough, and apps like the new 3D maps run smoothly, but it's nowhere near as fast as the dual-core iPad 2 or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1V, and often doesn't seem as fast as the LG Optimus 2X, which is also dual-core, but runs a phone version of Android, like the Flyer.

Like the decision to use Android 2.3, we think use of the 1.5GHz single-core processor was a bit of a mistake. It's not slow, but it means that the Flyer can't playback 1080p or perform HDMI mirroring (it doesn't even have a video-out port), where many other tablets can.

HTC flyer

What's most confusing, though, is why HTC would use this processor when it has access to the 1.2GHz dual-core CPU going in to the HTC Sensation. It's a bizarre choice, and really seems to be holding the Flyer back from matching its rivals when it comes to media features.

Battery life

The other major disappointment from the Flyer is battery life. From our time with it, it looks like you'll get at least a third less battery life than the iPad 2, or about a quarter less than some of its Android 3.0 rivals. In some use cases, we'd think you'd get as little as half the life of bigger, better tablets.

We wonder if the choice of the high-speed single-core processor isn't the problem here again. In any case, it's a huge black mark for the Flyer when compared to other options.

Our final major gripe is the keyboard. The inclusion of arrows for navigation are actually quite welcome, but the reduction in key size is too much, as far as we're concerned. There's little space on a seven-inch screen anyway, and chipping away at the size of the keys just makes them too fiddly.

You can write something of a decent length on a good 10-inch tablet's keyboard (and we do, regularly), but we've never write anything longer than a short email on the Flyer.

Of course, you might be think that the pen is the key to fixing this, with some sort of handwriting recognition. But you'd be wrong, because there's isn't any.

We're a little surprised to see it missing, and though we wouldn't have considered it a major oversight if the keyboard were better, the fact that it isn't means we're ruing its exclusion.