updated 10:25 pm EDT, Tue March 22, 2011
Best Buy to carry HTC Flyer Wi-Fi in spring
Best Buy on Tuesday night said it would carry a Wi-Fi version of the HTC Flyer, now better known in the US as the template for the Evo View 4G. The big-box chain's online and retail stores will both have the lower cost version when it ships in the spring. Prices weren't given out but should be inexpensive for the seven-inch, 16GB tablet.
Apart from the lack of 3G or 4G, it should otherwise be similar to the reference version and run on a 1.5GHz Snapdragon. Although small, the Flyer gets a rear five-megapixel camera, a front 1.3-megapixel camera, and its distinctive pen that works for drawing without forsaking finger multi-touch. Android 2.3 is onboard with HTC's newest version of Sense optimized for the tablet experience.
We tried both the Flyer and Evo View 4G at CTIA and found both to be surprisingly polished as tablets, even despite the seven-inch screen. We question the utility of drawing or handwritten notes for anyone outside of certain schools or workplaces, but it's a way to stand out on what's otherwise a fairly fast and polished device.
The decision to offer a Wi-Fi version virtually in sync with 4G may be an attempt by HTC to avoid repeating the mistakes of both Motorola and Samsung in launching their own tablets into the US. Both the Xoom and the Galaxy Tab were sold as 3G versions first and cost much more than they would as Wi-Fi versions, often close to or above the price of the more popular iPad. Without any sign of a Wi-Fi version due for the US, users either had to pay the 3G premium or consider a better bargain from Apple.
For HTC, the Flyer represents a rare if not first move to sell a carrier-independent device on US shelves and a test of how it can sell a non-phone in the US. It's now an established name for phones but is new to tablets for most people. Apple had the advantage of brand recognition across many disciplines before launching the iPad last year.