The HTC Flyer, HTC's answer to the Apple iPad, became available for preorder in the United Kingdom and Germany this week, and is expected to make its U.S. debut shortly. To further build interest in the device-and hopefully help it stand out in a jam-packed market-HTC has released a 6-minute video highlighting not only the tablet's expected perks but its most defining feature: a stylus.
Or so one would think. As one viewer commented on the YouTube page, "Apple and HTC are gods on making every product look amazing. I came here to see how useless this tablet would be. ... Now I want one so bad!"
While a stylus will strike many as so-10-years-ago-an accessory from the pre-media tablet age established by the iPad-the video, some might find, is rather convincing. (Judge for yourself.)
"There are certain things that are natural about the way we write and collect information. Not everyone knows how to type, but the second you pick up a pencil, you start scribbling," HTC Chief Innovation Officer Horace Luke told The New York Times in February, after HTC introduced the Flyer at the Mobile World Congress event.
Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi told eWEEK at the time that she doubted consumers would buy into the stylus conceit. "There are many iPad users that use apps like Penultimate with capacitive pens, so there is certainly a market for it, but I would not necessarily make it the selling point," she said.
But HTC certainly is. Called HTC Scribe Technology, the HTC video offers the tag line "If you see it ... you can write on it," and shows how a user might write a note on an article before emailing it to a friend, add squiggles or drawings to a photograph, take notes in a lecture or business meeting, or even pursue more artistic endeavors.
If drawing a tiara on your little princess isn't motivation enough to look away from the iPad 2, however, there are also more real-world uses.
"This innovation also helps you notate in books, comment on documents and even sign contracts," says the voiceover.
"Meeting and lectures bombard you with info in various forms," it continues, showing how the tablet's various capabilities can work together. A user could, for example, type notes on the virtual keyboard, underline or highlight a section with the stylus, and attach a photo or add audio or video of the presentation, which is then stored in the user's calendar.
"With a simple way to start notes from within the calendar, your schedule is no longer a placeholder of past or future events; it's now a complete archive of the meetings or presentations you attended," says the video.
And if you can't remember what a note was referring to, and presumably had the Flyer's recorder running, you can tap the confusing section of your notes, and it will play back "the audio recording of that moment last week, in that meeting, exactly at that time when you wrote those words." Neat, huh?
The Flyer, which will find competition from Research In Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook, Motorola's Xoom and Hewlett-Packard's TouchPad-in addition to the iPad 2 and myriad Android-running tablets that have sprung up-also competes in the more expected ways. It features a 7-inch touch display, a 1.5GHz processor, front and back cameras, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, and support for Adobe Flash 10.1.
Showing off the Flyer at the CTIA trade show March 22, HTC officials announced that it will be available at all Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores "this spring." No word was mentioned about pricing, but an Illinois-based site called Popular Electronics currently has it priced at $900 and available in "3 to 5 business days."