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BW Businessworld

Flight Of Fancy

Photo Credit :

With the sudden downpour of tablets these past few months, you may as well forget the monsoons and call it tablet season instead! Close on the heels of the iPad 2, the Playbook and the Iconia A500 comes the Flyer, HTC's entry into the Android tablet space. The HTC Flyer, though, is nothing if not unique. Which way does the Flyer swing - anomaly or path breaker? Let's find out.

Straight out of the box, the Flyer is a pretty sweet looking device, with a brushed aluminum chassis, tough white plastic ends and a high quality finish that could easily let the Flyer be mistaken for an Apple product. The design is minimalist a la Apple, and you have to struggle a fair bit (a lot, really!) to prise the back open to access the SIM or microSD card slots. HTC gets the presentation spot on though – there's a micro-fiber-cloth lined leather case to carry the 7-incher in your bag or purse. Now while the Flyer is one of the heavier and wider 7-inchers out there, it is easy to grasp in one hand and hold up for longer periods of times.

Switch it on, and the 1024 x 600-resolution 7-inch display delights with great viewing angles and colour reproduction, though I do wish the resolution had been higher. Under the hood beats a single-core 1.5Ghz processor assisted by 1GB memory and 32GB of storage — the processor in particular may seem a little 2010-ish in its single-core nature, but as I've maintained, tablet operating systems and software have not been optimized to fully use a dual-core processor. So the Flyer's performance is as snappy as they come, and the extra Ghz (over the 1Ghz dual-core processors I've seen of late) doesn't hurt one bit. There is one caveat though – the Flyer runs a non-tablet-optimised Android version (Gingerbread 2.3) but with HTC's Sense 3.0 user interface, which adds a tremendous amount of polish to the experience. Everything from the lock screen to the homescreen carousel and the new launch bar and widgets makes the Flyer a pleasure to use, plus by being on Gingerbread, you get compatibility with a wholeside more apps than you get on a Honeycomb tablet like the A500. Even so, Honeycomb should come to this device… pronto!

Then there's the ‘magic' pen. The Flyer's secret weapon is a stylus – yes, you read that right. The moment you put the pen to the tablet, the screen (irrrepsctive of what app you have open), becomes a screenshot, allowing you to make notes or draw figures on the image and save/send it off to someone by email. With the Notes app, you can take notes in your own handwriting, and if you're a big Evernote user like me, these notes sync to your Evernote account and to all your other devices as well. It works great as a doodling or annotation tool, but with limited app support, it is little else and the novelty soon wears off.

If anything, it's the price that is the biggest letdown. With a strong feature set, you really end up wishing HTC had taken the lead with pricing and made this much more affordable. Right now, it's just a pricey bitter pill to swallow.

Rating: 7/10
Price: Rs 39,890

Anti-hero Reloaded
If you grew up in the mid-90s like I did, there's a very high chance you'll remember a game character called Duke Nukem. This vest-wearing, inappropriately-behaving and enemy-slaughtering character was, to many of us, our first window into big bad ‘adult' world. Well, Duke is back in Duke Nukem Forever, a game which took literally 'forever' to make –it's been 15 years in the making, for crying out loud!
So what do you get for 15 years of patience? Precious little. The character's still a misogynist pig loaded to the brim with assorted macho-male clichés, which in itself isn't the problem. It's the rest of the game – poorly paced and badly designed levels, downright stupid enemy AI, grainy visuals and a lack of story development. Everything that worked in the original game is now just so… for lack of a better word… sad. Almost down to the point where you could call 2011 Duke somewhat boring - something 1996 Duke would rather perish than hear. Sigh…fond memories can only take you so far.


Squared Vision
There's a new dual-screen monster in town, and it's called the GScreen SpaceBook. Wrap your mind around this: the SpaceBook offers two (yes, two!) 17.3-inch displays that each boast of a 1920 x 1080 screen resolution. Each panel slides out horizontally like a wing – you wanted screen estate to do your creative thing, you got it! Colour me shocked, to be honest.
Price: $2395 to $2795

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