The HTC Flyer

We managed to get our hands on the HTC Flyer at Yappe Computer, Serusop, and it seems like a good 7" Android Tablet: an alternative to the older Galaxy Tab. It’s selling for B$859 (cash price) / B$886 (credit card price) for the 32GB model.


(YouTube link to video)

Specifications

  • 7" 1024×600 multi-touch capacitive screen
  • Stylus for use with the active digitizer screen
  • Android 2.3 with Sense 2.1
  • 1.5GHz CPU
  • 32GB storage (~7GB available for apps, ~20GB available as storage)
  • 1GB RAM
  • microSD card slot
  • 5MP rear camera with auto focus (no flash)
  • 1.3MP front facing camera
  • Standard micro-USB (no HDMI out)
  • Wifi: 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • Audio supported formats:
    • Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma (Windows Media Audio 9)
    • Recording: .amr, .aac
  • Video supported formats:
    • Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv (Windows Media Video 9), .avi (MP4 ASP and MP3), .xvid (MP4 ASP and MP3)
    • Recording: .3gp
  • Battery: 4000 mAh
  • Supports Adobe Flash

(Specifications from HTC Flyer Website, GSM Arena)

Notes on the Stylus

  • works in apps that support it otherwise touching the screen takes a screenshot that you can annotate
  • cannot be used to ‘touch’ all controls / buttons only digitizer palette brought up by touching the icon with the digitizer (not your finger)
  • requires a single AAAA (yes 4 As) battery which I have not seen in shops
  • has 2 buttons: 1 highlights text, other erases

Bundled HTC Apps

  • Notes application syncs to Evernote and allows infinite vertical scrolling. Allows text input, photo embedding, handwriting annotation as well as voice dictation
  • Reader application is a reading app linked with Kobo for in app purchasing
  • Watch application allows renting and buying of movies (but doesn’t seem available in Brunei, thus can only watch previews/trailers)

Other Notes
While it is a 7" Gingerbread (2.3) tablet instead of Honeycomb (3.x, which is the tablet optimized version of Android) it seems to be the better choice at the moment as apps will run on it with the only issue may be the way it looks. Currently is only one 7" Honeycomb tablet: the Acer Iconia Tab A100 and it was released yesterday. It is the first device to have Android 3.2 which is supposed to provide better support for 7" tablets compared to the regular bigger 10" Honeycomb tablets. However there seem to be some force close issues and app incompatibilities reported by This Is My Next and ZDnet (i.e. more work for the developer to fix problems).

On the entertainment side it supports 720p video playback, supports quite a few file formats and codecs but there is no HDMI output unless you get the dock to use with the extended microUSB connector on the flyer. The HTC Watch app is a nice feature but not being available here makes it of no use. For office use, there is support for Microsoft Office documents that allows editing with normal text entry and even the stylus (however, not all file formats are editable). Battery life seems a bit mixed with the Engadget review being impressed by it while TechRadar and CNET UK rated it has having bad battery life. BGR and Android Central give it decent battery life with typical use of 2 days per charge.

Summary
While I wished they didn’t remove the calling ability of the device, the usability of the pen to annotate and take notes is pretty appealing. A good alternative to the Galaxy Tab if you don’t plan to use it for calling. Smaller and more portable than an iPad it is made more for mobility. The main reason to get this device is the active digitizer and stylus combo or if you just wish for a tablet faster than the Galaxy Tab whose age is showing. Nice to see HTC innovate with the Flyer and hope to see more with the upcoming Puccini, their shot at the 10" tablet category.

Huawei Ideos S7 Overview

I managed to stumble upon the Huawei IDEOS S7 at Yappe IT Store in Serusop selling for B$399 (cash price) and when recording the video below I noticed that quite a few of them have already been bought. Check out the video giving an overview of the device

Specifications

  • CPU: 750 MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon (source: UMPCportal as we forgot to check the processor but it seemed decent enough)
  • GPU: Adreno 200
  • 7″ 800×480 (WVGA) Capactive Multi-Touch Screen
  • Android 2.2 with custom launcher
  • Front and Rear facing 2 megapixel cameras that record in CIF (352×288)
  • 8GB storage (7.51GB available but 116MB for apps)
  • 3G Enabled (standard SIM) with dialer (can make calls and text)
  • Can run Flash (installed from Market)
  • Upto 720p HD playback of mp4 (h264, aac), wmv files
  • Device seems rooted by default (Superuser was installed after factory reset)
  • Connectivity options: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, microSD card slot, docking port, 3.5mm headset
  • Other hardware details: Kickstand, Removable battery, Optical trackpad

Pros

  • Budget price B$399: great budget device for a 7″ tablet and phone with calling ability
  • Able to run Flash for a fuller web experience (put settings as ‘On-Demand’ for better performance)
  • Android 2.2 thus you can do mobile tethering (share 3G via Wi-Fi)
  • Rooted
  • Cold boot / Restarts in about 1 minute
  • Decent Performance: it did not seem sluggish or noticeable slow but there were times where it took multiple touches to get the device to respond (could be also due to the plastic film on the device screen)

Cons

  • Only 116MB free for apps
  • A few default apps are landscape oriented and don’t rotate if device is in portrait mode
  • No Office software to read Word/Excel/Powerpoint files (doc/docx/xls/xlsx/ppt/pptx)
  • Battery life may be bad (based on Telstra T-Touch Tab reviews it only has 3-4 hours of typical use: CNET Australia, PC World Australia, Sydney Morning Herald. The T-Touch Tab is a rebranded Huawei S7 but has slightly different hardware)

I doubt this will get any future upgrades because it is an older model and Huawei is releasing an S7 Slim and also the recently announced Media Pad. The main issue with the device will be the battery life: having a removable battery aids it but then you will have to buy another battery and external charger to keep it running. I was contemplating on the device and using it as a mobile hotspot with my b-mobile Zoom! SIM card and using it as a tablet for reading and on the go computing. However with the possible battery life issues, the best bet for my use case is still the Samsung Galaxy Tab which will cost about B$250 more but you get better hardware and a better overall experience. But having said that, I believe this is the cheapest 3G and Flash enabled Android tablet in Brunei. If you’re looking for a budget all-in-one phone and tablet device, and don’t mind the possible battery life issues, this is a good deal.

Want a computer to trade-in?

So Concepts Computer is having another trade-in offer at the moment: get an Acer Aspire One Happy for only B$398. I always love this trade-in offer as it gives people a chance to get rid of their old non-working computers and get discount in return. If you can’t get the trade-in offer, it is still going for B$468 under their Anniversary Special Deal.

I have some notebooks that meet this requirement and am willing to give them to anybody who wants to take advantage of this good offer. Anybody interested leave a comment / email me (tim _AT_ thewheatfield.org) / tweet me @thewheat and we’ll be in touch.

Bring any of your existing notebook or netbook (any brand, working or otherwise*) from now till 31 May 2011, you’re entitled to have Aspire One for $398 only.
*Terms & Conditions apply:-
Old Notebook or Netbook can be in working or non-working condition but all main components inlucding motherboard, HDD, processor, RAM, battery pack, power adapter etc… must be present. We reserver the right to reject any products deemed incomplete. Thank you

P.S. I also have desktops that can be used for the other trade-ins that don’t require laptops. Check Concepts website or visit their store to find out the latest trade-in deals

Concepts’ Computer Trade-in Promo

Have you got old/non-working computers? If you do and want a new computer, Concepts has a deal for you.

Trade in your old computer at get an Acer Aspire X3900 – 353X7 for B$798 (B$818 with card) which is a B$90 discount for your old computer. The monitor has a resolution of 1600×900 and a standalone cost of B$248 (or B$198 bundled price with a computer) and I believe this is a good deal and the computer is ideal for general / family use.

With only an Intel integrated graphics card, it will not be the perfect gaming machine but there is 1 PCI Express X1 slot and One PCI Express X16 slot (low-profile) for expansion. Note: I was told by the staff that there are no expansions slots, however on the specifications in the brochure and online there seems to be PCI Express slots, so I believe the staff was mistaken. However taking a look at the back of the machine, it is fulled with ports and there doesn’t seem to be any space for expansion cards to be placed. I asked to see inside the chassis but they declined my request. (Update 1: managed to get them to open the chassis for me as there are only 2 SATA connectors which are used for the DVD drive and hard drive and there are 2 expansion slots on the back of the case as shown below, I guess I wasn’t remembering things right)

Ports on the back of the system

Ports on the back of the system (including 2 slots of PCIe expansion)

Also note that this is a mini-tower and thus regular components may not fit in the expansion slots, thus the reason for "low-profile" mentioned in online specifications of this system. Another thing I noticed is that the configuration that Concepts is selling only has 2GB RAM where all the other bundles I’ve seen for the same model X3900-353X7 has 4GB RAM (Acer Malaysia’s product page | QQeStore | Google Search). I will try clarify with them on this (Update 1: seems that the 2GB is a Brunei deal, other computer shops selling Acer products have the same 2GB with monitor configuration as opposed to 4GB without monitor)

The base Acer Aspire X3900 – 353X7 bundle from QQeStore has 4GB RAM but no monitor. QQeStore sells OCZ 2GB DDR3 RAM for $258 which is more or less the price of the monitor (assuming existing 2GB in the system is a single stick). Personally I have enough monitors at home and would prefer 4GB RAM but I guess for the typical home looking to upgrade a computer system, the choice for a monitor is better. While 4GB would be great for any system, I feel 2GB should be sufficient for most and only enthusiast or people with higher requirements from a computer will complain. (Update 2: You can upgrade RAM to 4GB for B$98 – 2 sticks of 2GB)

Acer Aspire X3900 – 353X7 bundle by Concepts Computers, Brunei

  • Intel Core i3 530 Processor (2.93GHz) (4MB Cache /2.5 GT/Sec QPI)
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM (upgradable to 8GB)
  • 500GB SATA2 Hard Drive
  • DVD SuperMultiplus Writer
  • Acer Brand 20" Wide LCD Model: P205H (Resolution: 1600×900)
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD
  • 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet
  • High-Definition audio with 3rd Generation Dolby Home Theater & S/PDIF
  • 40-in-1 Card Reader
  • 10L Housing, 352(L) x 265 (H) x 100 (W) mm
  • 1 PCI Express X1 slot & 1 PCI Express x16 slot (low-profile as found on Acer Malaysia’s product page)
  • 9 x USB 2.0, IEEE 3994 port, eSata, HDMI, Dsub VGA, 5 audio jacks, S/PDIF jack & 2 x PS/2
  • Acer USB Speaker Keyboard & Optical Mouse
  • Genuine Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium

Update 1: Kudo’s to Concepts for allowing me to tickle my fancy of wanting to know how many SATA connectors there are. I asked if I could transplant the system in an existing chassis and they even offered to do it for free. So if you do transplant the system you can use normal sized components but the next issue that you could run into would insufficient power to the component. Stock power supply is only 220W, so if you put in a power hungry graphics card you will have to spend more on an extra power supply too. Possibly add another $200 – $300 for that.

Update 2: So you can upgrade the RAM to 4GB for B$98. (2 sticks of 2GB which is a added nice touch as it means you can max out the RAM without getting rid of any sticks, if they used 4 sticks of 1GB RAM). Also my brother seems to be having an issue with this brand new system. Monitor detected that the video signal was lost, then the power button kept blinking. Tried moving the mouse, pressing the keyboard, pressing the power button and none of that worked. Had to force shutdown and also during a restore, the restoration got stuck.