HTC Flyer Android tablet (preview)

HTC Flyer preview: HTC's first Android tablet -- the 7in Flyer -- has a brushed steel body, and a 'Scribe' pen to take notes and drawings

HTC has announced the launch of its first Android tablet, the Android-powered HTC Flyer.

Read our guide the best best upcoming tablets in 2011, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Motorola Xoom and the BlackBerry PlayBook.

The main differentiating point of Android tablets is the size of the display. The HTC Flyer has a 7in screen with a resolution of 1024x600, which makes it much smaller than the Apple iPad and the rumoured, upcoming iPad 2. The Flyer's 7in capacitive touchscreen means it's a similar size to the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but HTC has equipped the flyer with a brushed steel body, rather than the glossy plastic used on the Galaxy Tab.

A feature not seen on any other Android tablet is HTC's 'Scribe' pen, which is basically a fancy stylus. Thankfully, you don't need the Scribe pen to operate the HTC Flyer; it is mainly for HTC's notes application. Here users can draw notes on the screen and record audio simultaneously, while you can also make comments on web pages and books. The recording and note taking function built into the Scribe, called 'Timemark' then allows you to press on your notes to hear what was recorded at that particular point in time.

Other distinguishing features of the HTC Flyer Android tablet include an optimised version of HTC Sense specifically designed for tablets, a video-on-demand service called 'HTC Watch' and a cloud gaming service called 'OnLive'. Strangely, the HTC Flyer runs the 2.4 Gingerbread version of Google's Android platform, rather than the 3.0 Honeycomb version that was designed specifically for tablet devices. Instead, HTC has chosen to optimise the Sense UI to suit the larger tablet screen with a 3D carousel-style home screen and optimised gallery, books, mail and weather apps.

The HTC Flyer Android tablet is powered by a 1.5GHz processor, and 1GB of RAM. It comes with 32GB of internal memory, along with a microSD card slot for extra storage. The Flyer also has a 5-megapixel camera that doubles as a 720p HD video recorder, a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video calls, GPS, Wi-Fi, and a 4000mAh rated battery that is claimed to be good for four hours of continuous video playback.

HTC has not announced whether the Flyer Android tablet will be launched in Australia, and no pricing details have been revealed. The tablet will be available in the second quarter of this year in other markets.

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