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The New HTC Flyer's Fatal Flaw

The HTC Flyer would be a powerful new iPad competitor except for one big Achilles heel: It uses an old Google (GOOG) Android platform. The relatively clunky user interface and limited functionality puts it behind the Motorola (M) Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The HTC Flyer is a stop gap for HTC, and we can expect the company's next tablet with the latest software to be announced shortly -- the HTC Flyer will be dated as soon as it is released later this year.

Impressive power
The HTC Flyer sounds really nice on paper:

  • 1.5 GHz CPU
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 32 GB memory, expandable
  • 1024 x 600 7-inch touchscreen
  • Two cameras (5 megapixel on back, 1.3 megapixel on front)
  • Stylus and touchscreen controls
The CPU would make it faster than the buzzworthy Motorola Xoom and the back camera is more powerful than nearly all known tablets.

Uses old Google operating system
Despite the stunning specs, the HTC Flyer uses a modified version of Gingerbread, the older Android operating system, instead of Honeycomb, the latest operating system. Devices are released with older operating systems all the time, but the rub is that Google designed Honeycomb specifically for tablet devices.

Google is looking at Honeycomb to differentiate its relatively lackluster history of tablets using Gingerbread. As my BNET colleague Erik Sherman noted earlier this month, Honeycomb does actually have some serious upgrades, including:

  • Greatly improved user interface, which has been a major complaint on Google devices
  • In-app purchasing, a boon for app developers like Rovio of Angry Birds fame
  • Native support of video chat, which would be beneficial for camera-ready devices like the HTC Flyer
The HTC Flyer will have none of these strengths that its competitors, like the Xoom and Galaxy Tab 10.1, will have on launch. HTC got caught in the development cycle and, perhaps because of Google's communication, was too far along in the Flyer's production to update to the latest operating system.

The result is that the Flyer was too early to use Honeycomb, but too late to change course. We can expect it to be a non-competitor when it gets released later this year, though the inevitable HTC Flyer 2 will be one to watch.

Photo courtesy of HTC

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