HTC has a well deserved reputation for building quality hardware, so when it was announced that a tablet was on the horizon from the Taiwanese firm ears pricked up and people (rightfully) took notice.
Skip forward a few months and here we sit awaiting the general release of HTC’s inaugural tablet, the Flyer, so while we’re waiting we thought we’d celebrate the release in the only way we know how, by setting up a nice, evenly matched head-to-head so that the new device can fight for its very reputation! It’s opponent in this contest?
None other than Motorola’s big-hitting Xoom, a device that has earned more than a few admiring glances since its unveiling back at CES in January.
So, if you’re sitting comfortably, let’s get it on!
The HTC Flyer runs on version 2.4 of Google’s Android operating system, a tried and tested platform that offers speed, security and stability.
The software is further enhanced by a tablet-centric version of HTC’s own Sense UI custom overlay, which brings custom widgets, software and other augmentations to the device, making it a pleasure to use. Motorola’s Xoom however, comes with version 3.0 of Google’s Android OS, which is a drastically overhauled version of the software aimed specifically at tablets.
Version 3.0 (Honeycomb) brings with it a new, pseudo-3D user-interface, improved keyboard, refined, tablet-friendly apps and other new features, making it great fun to use and very user friendly. We aren’t sure whether the Flyer will be getting an upgrade to Android 3.0 but it’s omission, while easy to get over, is certainly puzzling.
Winner – Motorola Xoom
Measuring just 195.4 x 122 x 13.2 mm and weighing a paltry 420.8 g, the HTC Flyer is a small but perfectly formed little tablet that feels every bit the premium HTC device.
There are no creaks, squeaks or groans and the Flyer sits comfortably in the hand thanks to its neat construction and good balance. The Xoom is an altogether different animal, measuring a fairly capacious 249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9 mm and tipping the scales at 730 g.
While you definitely notice the extra size and weight when you’re using the device you don’t feel overly encumbered by it and the Xoom remains a pleasing tablet to use and feels well crafted and robust.
Winner – HTC Flyer
If you’re after a fine screen you could do far worse than the Motorola Xoom, which packs a 10.1-inch capacitive TFT featuring multi-touch, plus a gyroscope, accelerometer and barometer, so you’re well and truly covered for gaming and/or starting your own weather station.
The Flyer’s display is, as you’d no doubt guessed when taking in the measurements last paragraph, a good deal smaller than the Xoom but at 7-inches it’s far from tiddly and feels perfectly comfortable on the eyes when viewing content and, as with the Xoom, you get multi-touch support but you’re also treated to handwriting recognition (and, if eye-candy is your thing, rotating icons when you turn the device!).
Winner – Draw
With a dual-core Tegra 2 chipset and 1GB RAM, the Xoom chips along at a good rate of knots. There’s no lag or delay when opening and closing apps and rendering web-pages is done at a suitably speedy pace. Gaming is handled equally as impressively and we can’t help but feel that the new iteration of Android that’s in-play on the device has a hand in some of these virtues.
When building the Flyer HTC chose to shun dual-core technology in favour of an albeit powerful single core chip, clocked to 1.5GHz which doesn’t seem to struggle too much with whatever you throw at it.
Though it’s worth mentioning that dual-core chips aren’t exactly well catered for software wise at present, so when new software is released we might see the Flyer struggle to keep up, but for now it performs with the best of them, and its own 1GB RAM aids matters nicely.
Winner – Motorola Xoom
5-megapixel auto-focus snappers seem to be fast becoming the norm for Android powered tablets and neither of these contenders don’t buck the trend.
Motorola’s Xoom does, however, feature a dual-LED flash, which is something that isn’t shared by the HTC Flyer, though they do both capture video at 720P resolution. The Xoom also outguns the Flyer in terms of front facing optics too, offering a 2-megapixel video call camera, as opposed to the Flyer’s 1.3-megapixel.
Winner – Motorola Xoom
Motorola’s Xoom is the clear winner in this contest, despite the best efforts of HTC’s pocket battleship, though we were most definitely impressed by the snappy, user-friendly Flyer.
The lack of Android 3.0 and a few luxuries, such as a camera flash and a dual-core CPU set HTC’s creation apart and, unfortunately we were left with the impression that while it’s brilliant now (and it truly is!) it won’t be able to compete for the medium to long-term, which is a terrible shame.
On a positive note Motorola’s Xoom has soundly whipped nearly every contender we’ve faced it with, and with each victory we’re becoming more and more impressed by its quality and the implementation of the Google’s new tablet-centric OS.