Sometimes style is about more than just our clothes. Sometimes it also includes our toys.   Tech toys can be practical, convenient and yes - stylish.

I recently came to be the owner of a lovely 7" android tablet. I would never have thought that I'd want or need a small tablet.  We had been considering replacing our netbook with a 10" tablet, with an attachable keyboard.  A 7" seemed too small to be any real use. Boy was I wrong!

I had better explain that I got my little tablet at the Blogher conference last summer. All the attendees were informed that HTC was going to be hosting some small research/focus type groups and were looking for participants. I signed up! It was great to see HTC taking advantage of the opportunity to speak to small groups of women and get their feedback on phones and ideas of future priorities for hardware. The marketer in me fully agreed with their strategy to maximize the opportunity. But I digress. For our time each of the attendees was provided with a phone. We had been asked in advance for our provider so we could be given an appropriate phone. I wasn't the only Canadian in the room, but apparently I was the only Rogers customer. And they weren't able to get a phone for my network. So instead of disappointing me they gave me something better - their new HTC Flyer, an Android powered 7" tablet. 

The Flyer has rarely been out of my sight since.

Why?  Well The Flyer does so much, in a great little package.   It can access the Internet by wi-fi, while being held in one hand.  The battery lasts a reasonable amount of time (all day with intermident surfing/tweeting or about 4 hours when on constantly, like when reading or taking notes at a meeting).  I can now surf, watch videos or tweet from the couch, in bed or standing in the kitchen.  This is especially useful for recipes as the tablet sits next to me on the counter while I cook.    It can have several web pages open at the same time and it is fast.  It also easily slides into my purse for transport.  

Up to 6 browser windows can be open at one time.

I have now removed my paper notebook from my purse. I am still a bit old school and have a little notebook in my purse for taking notes at events or meetings. Now I can take notes on my tablet. And with the optional pen it is like writing in my notebook.  Old school made new school.

When I use the Flyer's Evernote program I can access my notes from my computer or my tablet.  Or just keep them locally on the Flyer.  Plus I can take pictures or record part of the event, right in the note.  Especially useful when speakers flash graphs such as this one from Ipsos Reid (that tells us - yes we spend a lot of time online).

Now if the Flyer can just learn to read my writing for me.  

Speaking of the camera, is has a front and back facing camera.  The back camera is higher quality with 5.0MP, and the front with 1.3MP. Not great for low light situations, but it takes great shots in the sun and then I can upload them to FB, twitter, this blog or others right away.  It takes particularly lovely food shots for sharing on Facebook.

This one "What I Wore" photo was taken with the back camera.

And this one the front camera.

You can also edit your photos and/or apply fun treatments to them. I have a similar option on my Smart Phone, but it takes the photo with a specific treatment only. The Flyer allows you to have the original photo and then pick a treatment, and save both for future use.

It is also really handy to take quick photos of clothes I see at events, like these great local jewels by Oak One of a Kind Jewelry (which mixes vintage artifacts), shot at the Fashion Capsule open house.

And the video camera is also really handy. I've captured some fun videos of my son skating, kiting and riding his bike (often with just one hand). But it has also been handy at fashion events.  Below is my video of the opening of the fantastic Nicole Bridger Spring/Summer 2012 show at Eco Fashion Week Vancouver. 

I can update my blog from the Flyer.  I need to use HTML view to make the keyboard come up.  But otherwise it works great in drafting blog posts when I'm on the run, or just sitting on the couch.  I published this post about my new scarf directly from my Flyer.

The Flyer has an e-reader.  I have rarely left home without my Kobo since I got it last fall.  Now there is one less item in my purse, as the Flyer can easily download books from my Kobo account.  It is almost exactly the same size as my reader, if a bit heavier.

The Flyer has a great calendar function that can sync with my outlook, so I don't have multiple calendars.  It can also sync my contacts. Just like my old palm pilot, but sooo much better.

It is also a great diversion for my son. It has a Kid Mode by Zoodles, which allows him to surf games, videos and books - in his age range.  The videos and games include some of his favourite PBS and Sesame Street characters. And when in Kid Mode he can't access anything else on my phone. So no "accidental" tweets or deletion of photos.   The downside is that it doesn't download the games to the device. You need a wi-fi connection.

The Pen style options.

We also used the extra MicroSD card space to download some of his other videos.   The tablet comes with the ability to download movies online.  It is a rent or buy per download, not a netflix type monthly fee.  I have yet to use it for movies, but the media player in the device plays very high quality - even if you are just watching YouTube videos.

Other common uses:

  • Skype
  • Facebook
  • Hootsuite
  • LinkedIn
  • GPS google maps and a car panel

I am also waiting for the Flickr app to work on the Flyer. And for Pinterest to update their app so I can pin random photos when I surf. I can surf through pinterest and re-pin/like other people's photos, but I can't pin new photos - yet.  And Vimeo doesn't yet have an android app, but I can access their mobile site for now.

The Downsides

It has a bluetooth option, but I haven't yet figured that out.  Otherwise it is only Wi-fi.  Which isn't as convenient when out and about.  Although I can tether it to my husband's cell phone and use his data plan if necessary.

I need to get a case for it.  Most of the e-reader/tablet cases don't have space for the pen.  Although I saw a new one on The Source website today, that looks pretty and has a space for the pen.  Right now I'm using an IKEA catalogue to protect it in my purse - and that is sort of heavy.

I love the functionality of the pen.  I can write notes. I can highlight things on web pages. I can make notes on photos.  But it does not come with the Flyer in Canada (Best Buy in the US just started - finally - selling them together).  It is an additional $80 in Canada.  The Flyer is available at The Source, but the pen is only available online. 

The price is a bit steep.  When I got this back in August the price was $500 (plus the $80 pen) in both US and Canada. The US has since seen the price decrease to $300.   It is a great device, with lots of very helpful features. But there are also other tablets on the market for lower prices. Those other tablets have less functionality, but I didn't come to appreciate the value of the Flyer functions until I had used it for a few days.  

The worst thing about the device is its auto correct.  It is slowly learning.  But really it is AWFUL - the worst auto correct I've ever used.   Snore became snow. Hartman became Martian.  The strangest thing is it tries to find proper words even when you press @ or # before the word.  I would expect it to already know that those are likely weird twitter words and not auto-correct them.  It is amazing how such a small thing can be so annoying.

Recap

The Flyer has replaced the following items in my purse: e-reader, notebook, camera, address book and calendar.   Frankly the only reason I carry my smart phone anymore is for phone calls.  I can leave the house for the day with a wallet, cell, Flyer and lip gloss all stashed in a smallish purse.    It is also a great conversation piece when I pull it out to use it. 

What tech toys do you have in your purse? 

Disclosure - The HTC Flyer tablet was provided to me by HTC in exchange for participating in their research group at Blogher, and was declared at Canadian customs upon my return home. The pen has been loaned to me by Paradigm PR. And yes, I may cry just a bit when I put it in the mail back to them.

The list of features, according to Best Buy US site.

  • HTC Flyer Tablet with 16GB Internal Memory
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • Micro USB cable, power adapter, power cable
  • Product Features:

    • Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system
      With HTC Sense allows you to stay connected and productive.
    • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n network
      For Internet capability on the go (additional fees may apply). HTC Watch allows you to rent or buy movies and watch them instantly.
    • 16GB internal memory
      Along with a microSDHC card slot allows you to store or transfer media (card not included).
    • 7" color touch-screen display
      With 1024 x 600 resolution for easy navigation of features.
    • Front-facing 1.3MP autofocus camera
      Along with a 5.0MP high-definition autofocus camera for capturing video.
    • Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP capability
      For wireless communication with a Bluetooth-enabled stereo headset.
    • Media player
      For viewing photos, listening to your favorite tunes or watching videos. Supported formats include AAC, AMR, OGG, M4A, MP3, WMA, WAV, 3GP, 3G2, MP4, WMV, AVI and XVID.
    • Snapbooth
      Allows you to capture, stylize and share photos.
    • HTC Notes
      With Time Mark and synching audio, photo and notes capability adds more useful functionality to your mobile phone.
    • Kid Mode by Zoodles
      Provides a safe and secure experience for kids.