A follow-up to the HTC Flyer is in the works, HTC revealed today. There are no concrete details bar the fact it’ll “definitely” arrive in the UK, and that the company will wait until it has something unique to offer.
Well HTC, if you want to take on the Nexus 7, a good place to start would be with this checklist…
Android Jelly Bean
The latest version of Android is a must-have. Not only for the cool (and much more responsive) UI, but its amazing Google Voice Search that completely shames Siri. And of course Google Now, which knows what you’re up to and suggests information that might be of help. The Nexus 7 will have it from launch, and it’s now available as an over the air update for the Galaxy Nexus, so anything launching without it is going to look years out of date.
The first Flyer came with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. At a time when Android 3.0 Honeycomb was standard on most tablets, this undoubtedly contributed to the Flyer sinking without trace.
Let’s not forget the fact the Android update process has been far from slick, too. If you want a taste of Jelly Bean, and you don’t buy a device with the latest software version, you’re in for a wait.
Ditch the stylus
We thought the stylus on the original Flyer was a welcome addition in a sea of identikit Android efforts. It let you make notes anywhere on the user interface, for crying out loud. But it seems the great general public was turned off.
No matter how many cool uses the stylus had – doodling, highlighting key passages in text, making notes to remind you to buy milk – it did seem a bit of a throwback to pre-iPad tablets. We’re used to just using our fingers now HTC, and there’s nothing wrong with that. A stylus will just confuse non-techy types and turn them off.
The Nexus 7 will sell for a ridiculously low £160. Any 7-inch tablet is going to have its work cut out to justify charging more. Even the Amazon Kindle Fire looks expensive next to that. Hence the Flyer 2 will have to stay under £200 to have any real chance. The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 sells for £199, so even if HTC keeps the same 5-megapixel camera and stylus as the original, it’ll have a tough time if it prices it much over £200.
A 7-inch tablet isn’t much bigger than today’s big-screen phones, so unsurprisingly people aren’t keen to spend a lot of money on them.
Better battery life
The original Flyer struggled compared to rivals when it came to the battery department, managing not much more than a day’s light use before conking out. The Nexus 7 promises 300 hours of standby, with 9 hours of video playback, 10 of web browsing and 10 of reading ebooks, so the Flyer 2 will really have to go the distance if it wants to stay competitive.
While only 7-inches across, the Nexus 7′s screen has a resolution of 1,280×800-pixels. That’s pretty impressive given the size. The pixels per inch (ppi) is 216, so lower than the iPad’s 264, but anything over 200 is considered pretty great. The original Flyer, meanwhile, managed just 1,024×600-pixels, with a ppi of 170.
The Flyer came out well over a year ago, when the retina display was just a glint in Apple’s eye, so it wasn’t considered bad at the time. It’s just things move pretty fast, so HTC will need a sharper screen to tempt buyers’ eyes when next to other tablets on the shop shelf.
3G and Wi-Fi-only versions
The fact the Nexus 7 doesn’t pack 3G could be considered its main drawback, but with Wi-Fi hotspots almost everywhere nowadays (even on the tube), is it really a necessity? It would be something over the Nexus 7, but offering a non-3G version would help HTC to price it more competitively.
The original Flyer cost a whopping £600 for the 32GB version, and £480 for the 16GB. Those are crazy prices for a 7-inch tablet.
So HTC would do well to follow Samsung and Apple and offer both 3G and Wi-Fi-only versions. It’s just common sense.
The original Flyer packed a 5-megapixel camera on the back, and while most people don’t buy a tablet for the camera, it is handy to have, especially on a more portable 7-inch model. Then again, offering versions with and without could help keep the price down. But really, with the amount of interest the Nexus 7 has generated (as everyone cries “How much?!”) HTC needs to do everything it can to get one over on Google.
Some of HTC’s handsets like the Sensation XL and Sensation XE come with Beats Audio to give your tunes more bass. Seeing as most tablets’ speakers sound like a bee trapped in an envelope, integrating the tech to the Flyer 2 would give it a real advantage over others. And a 7-incher is small enough to stick in your pocket, so you could use it as a very large MP3 player.