HTC Flyer vs Motorola Xoom

HTC has finally stepped into the tablet arena with arrival of the HTC Flyer onto our shopping shelves but how does it measure up to its competitors? We've already put it head to head with Apple's iPad, but how does it fare against another Android tablet and a bigger one, indeed, in the shape of the impressive Motorola Xoom? Keep reading to find out.

Form Factor

1st: HTC Flyer
195.4 x 122 x 13.2mm, 415g
2nd: Motorola Xoom
249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9mm, 730g

The dimensions of all the tablets on the market vary hugely, mainly dictated by screen size. It's no suprise that the Motorola's 10.1-inch display means that it has a substantial 249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9mm to house it in. By contrast, the HTC Flyer with its 7-inch screen is much smaller at 195.4 x 122 x 13.2mm, albeit very slightly thicker. At just 415g, it's also much lighter than the hefty 730g Xoom.

Obviously, in this case we're not comparing two tablets with identical screen sizes, so one is inevitably going to be bigger than the other and it really comes down to a trade-off between the size of the product and how big you want the screen to be. Looking purely at specs, we have to award HTC the win in this round, because it's far more portable and a lot lighter. What's more, it's also ergonomically and aesthetically better with that familiar HTC machined metal designed that makes it just that bit more solid and pleasing to have in your hand.

 

Display

1st: Motorola Xoom
10.1-inch, 1280x800px, LCD, 149ppi
2nd: HTC Flyer
7-inch, 1024x600px, LCD, 170ppi


Display is what it's all about for tablets. If it doesn't look any good then people simply aren't going to buy it. The Motorola's 10.1-inch LCD screen has already impressed the critics with its 1280x800-pixel resolution. However, despite its smaller 7-inch screen size, HTC's Flyer isn't too shabby either. Sporting 1024x600 pixels, it in fact has a marginally better pixel density although whether you can really detect the difference with your eyes is another matter. Both displays are near enough 16:9 aspect for decent widescreen viewing but, with little else to call it, you'd really have to go for the tablet with more display real estate to enjoy. Round 2 to the Xoom.

 

Engine Room

1st: Motorola Xoom
NVIDIA Tegra 2, 1GHz dual-core CPU, 1GB RAM
2nd: HTC Flyer
Qualcomm MSM8255 1.5GHz CPU, 1GB RAM



While most of the latest top-tier tablets feature dual-core processors, HTC has stuck to a single-core chipset for its Flyer, albeit one with an impressive clock speed of 1.5GHz. The CPU is a Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 with the Adreno 205 graphics chip, which more than doubles the performance of the Adreno 200. Based on the ARM Cortex-A9, the Xoom's NVIDIA Tegra 2 chipset puts Motorola's tablet firmly in the dual-core camp. The 1Gz processor is joined by a ULP GeForce GPU, designed for ultra-low power consumption. Both tablets offer the same 1GB RAM count. Although the Flyer puts up a good fight, the lack of a dual-core processor means that Motorola has the edge.

 

Storage

Tie: HTC Flyer
32GB + microSD
Tie: Motorola Xoom
32GB + microSD



Storage is pretty important when it comes to tablets, as you'll need space for your apps, tracks and videos. There isn't that much between most models on the market (except of course for the iPad, which doesn't offer any expandable storage). The Motorola Xoom and HTC Flyer are pretty much identical in this respect as they both come with 32GB of on-board memory, along with the option to updrade (by another 32GB) using a memory card. Obviously the fact that you can swap cards in and out means that you can effectively have more than 32GB worth of content stored on card - you just won't be able to have it all available at the same time. The SD card slot on the Xoom won't work until a software update arrives soon, but as soon as it lands, it'll be fully operational, putting it neck and neck with the Flyer.

 

Battery

1st: Motorola Xoom
Up to 10 hrs video playback
2nd: HTC Flyer
4 hrs video playback



The quoted four hours of video playback on the Flyer isn't a very compelling reason to buy it. Apart from web browsing, the most likely uses for tablets are gaming and watching videos. If you're intending to take your tablet on a plane for some in-flight movie entertainment, then you won't get more than two sub-two hour films out of HTC's device. Meanwhile, the Xoom's quoted 10 hours of video playback will be more than enough for a transatlantic travel's worth of films and you should be able to take it out for the day without having to worry that the battery will conk out before the day is out, which, if you're using the Flyer a fair bit, is a distinct possibility.

 

Software

1st: motorola xoom
Android 3.0
Tie: htc flyer
Android 2.3.3 + HTC Sense (3.0 update due)



A lot of people get very upset when we compare one OS against another, but thankfully these two tablets are both packing Android (albeit different versions), so there shouldn't be too many tears or angry comments. Motorola's Xoom runs on Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) which is Google's first OS that's been designed specifically with tablets in mind. There are several benefits including the fact that it offers a full browsing experience, along with more responsive operation and redesigned apps such as Gmail - more on that here.

Meanwhile, HTC's Flyer will only be packing Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) at launch with the manufacturer's Sense UI running over the top. While a Honeycomb update has been promised, there's no telling how long it might take with Google still holding on to those minimum hardware specs for Android 3.0. While the Gingerbread and Sense experience is still quite reasonable, at the end of the day, it's a mobile phone OS and you're in the business of choosing a tablet.

 

Apps & Extras

Tie: HTC Flyer
HTC Sense apps + Magic Pen

Tie: Motorola Xoom
Honeycomb apps

Both of these Androids, of course, benefit from the 200,000+ apps available on the Market but the situation isn’t quite as cut and dry as all that. While the Xoom brings you a burgeoning number of specially tablet redesigned applications, HTC has had the good, yes, sense to offer some proprietary ones out of the box to help users on their way. These include the video streaming HTC Watch app; Polaris Office, for all your docs work; Snapbooth, for your images and Kid Mode which will stop your child accidentally destroying your device - unless they’re very young, of course. All of that plus the usual Sense goodies bunged in.

The other intriguing extra from HTC is that stylus known as the Magic Pen which you can use to write on the screen freehand instead of your finger. Now, it’s not for everyone and it’s not for all the time but it’s certainly going to be of interest to some users, and, all in all, we reckon that those bonuses just about make up for the lack of Honeycomb in the apps department. Expect that balance of power to shift if and when HTC manages to get the Android upgrade.

 

Imaging

1st: Motorola Xoom
5MP rear, 2MP front, 720p video
2nd: HTC Flyer
5MP rear, 1.3MP front, 720p video

Whether your tablet has a built-in camera or not may be completely irrelevant to you as it's not really what they're made for. However, most self-respecting tablet devices now come equipped with a camera or two (even the iPad). The Xoom and the Flyer are fairly evenly matched in this respect with Motorola's tablet packing a 5MP rear camera and a 2MP front-facing cam, along with 720p video capture, while HTC's device has a similar 5MP rear cam, along with 720p and a front-facing cam with a very slightly lower pixel count of 1.3MP. The Xoom wins on specs thanks to the marginally higher pixel count which might not sounds like much but actually makes quite a bit of difference down the other end of a video chat call.

 

Connectivity

1st: motorola xoom
3G, Wi-Fi, BT 2.1, USB, HDMI-out
2nd: htc flyer
3G, Wi-Fi, BT 3.0, USB, DLNA



When it comes to connectivity, the very least that we expect from a tablet is to have Wi-Fi and 3G capability. Naturally, both the Xoom and the Flyer have these, along with USB and Bluetooth - the Xoom with version 2.1 and the Flyer with 3.0. The other things we seem to be looking for in from tablets in this day and age are DLNA and HDMI-out.

While only the Flyer offers something akin to DLNA with its HTC Watch wireless steaming app, it doesn't have the HDMI hard connection to back it up, and the situation is reversed for the Xoom. One might, therefore, expect a dead heat for this round but the situation is that you can achieve wireless streaming using third party apps. The missing HDMI port, you simply can't replace.

 

Price

1st: Motorola Xoom
£479.99 (32GB, Wi-Fi)
2nd: HTC Flyer
£479.99 (16GB, Wi-Fi)



We can debate the specs until we're blue in the face but for many people, the decision between tablets will come down largely to the price tag. Despite an initial price of £499, the Motorola Xoom is now selling for £479.99. That will get you the Wi-Fi version with 32GB of built-in memory. HTC is selling its Flyer for exactly the same price. However, considering that only gets you 16GB of memory (on a similarly specced Wi-Fi-only basis), along with a smaller screen size and a single-core processor, it seems like a very steep price indeed.

 

Conclusions

Going strictly by specs, the Motorola is the undisputed winner in this particular bout. It clearly outshines the HTC Flyer in several areas such as the inclusion of a dual-core processor, a bigger screen, better OS and better battery life as well as that HDMI support. The Flyer also has its charms, particularly if you're looking for a smaller, more portable and even better looking device, and there's always that Magic Pen as well.

Going by the HTC's smaller chassis and screen size and the fact that it's powered by single-core CPU, you might have been forgiven for thinking that it would be cheaper to buy. Unfortunately, that's not the case at present. Motorola's tablet offers dual-core processing, double the built-in storage and a larger screen all for the same price, so it's probably a no-brainer for many shoppers. Apart from die-hard HTC fans and those who specifically want a tablet of a more pocketable size, many potential Flyer buyers could well be put off by what seems like an unreasonably high price tag for an arguably inferior device.

For the full reports on each check out the reviews in the links below.