Rumors that smartphone maker HTC is planning an Android-running tablet called the Flyer received a bit more backing Jan. 26, though the device still has yet to be officially confirmed.
Norwegian site Amobil, citing an "insider who is familiar with the company's plans," has offered specifications for the tablet and reported in a Jan. 25 blog post that the Flyer will launch with Android 2.3, as "HTC is eager to launch the product quickly, and has no time to wait for Android 3.0 Honeycomb."
The "Honeycomb" version of Google's Android is optimized for the tablet form factor and is planned for competing devices such as the Motorola Xoom. To accommodate the Flyer's speedy launch with 2.3, says Amobil, "HTC has made several changes to the menu systems on the Flyer, incorporating HTC Sense. These adjustments aim to create a smooth transition to a bigger screen than HTC's mobile phones."
The device's specs, per the site, include a 7-inch capacitive touch-screen with a resolution of 1,025 x 600 pixels, a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 4GB of ROM and 1GM of RAM memory. It also reportedly has a 1.3-megapixel secondary camera and a 5-megapixel primary camera, as well as the Skype application pre-installed, for putting that lower-resolution camera to video-chatting use. Also on board is an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port for watching content on an HDTV.
Connectivity reportedly includes HPA, with speeds up to 14.4/5.76M bps. And less expected, there's said to be a stylus included-which presumably can be used in addition to finger input.
Per Amobil's sources, HTC has also rigged out the Flyer so that it's "very lightweight" and will additionally boast a "powerful battery."
The Taipei-based DigiTimes reported earlier in January that the Flyer will begin shipping to the United States in March, followed by European markets in April, which may explain the decision to launch without waiting for Honeycomb.
A little oddly, Amobil added that Apple's iPad has so far had "a limited number of competitors." At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in January, nearly 100 tablets were on display. In addition, at the upcoming Mobile World Congress event, beginning Feb. 14 in Barcelona, there's likely to be a good deal more-including, perhaps, a formally introduced HTC Flyer.
Should an HTC-made tablet indeed arrive in the spring, it will find itself in the company of tablets from several HTC smartphone competitors. In addition to the Motorola Xoom, the Research In Motion BlackBerry PlayBook is slated for arrival, as are HP's WebOS-running tablets, rumored to be named "Topaz" and "Opal."
Research firm IDC expects the tablet market to finish 2011 with shipments of nearly 45 million units and grow to just shy of 71 million units in 2012. While media tablets have been counted apart from quarterly shipments of PCs, the devices have had an impact on PC sales, aggressively competing with them for consumer dollars.
Analyst firm Canalys, in a Jan. 26 report, suggested that leaving tablets out of PC tallies was "out of sync" and an old-fashioned approach to a new industry. By grouping tablets with desktops, netbooks, notebooks and industry-standard server PCs, Canalys reported that during the fourth quarter of 2010 the PC market grew 19.2 percent from a year earlier. The inclusion of the tablets, which were of course led by the iPad, had the additional effect of making Apple the second-highest-ranking PC vendor worldwide.