HTC EVO View 4G Review

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Just a short year ago the tablet market was pretty barren. You had the iPad and…well that was about it. There were some no-name Windows CE ones out there and maybe even an Android tablet or two floating around in Chinese flea markets, but if you wanted one you were getting 9.7” with fruit on it. Samsung was the first to really put their hat into the Android tablet market with last year’s Galaxy Tab, but not until the announcement of Honeycomb and the Motorola XOOM has Android posed a serious threat in the tablet world. Now it seems everywhere you turn another sexy Honeycomb tablet is being released or announced.

Arguably the leader in Android smartphones, HTC found itself in a curious position being tablet-less. After months of speculation they finally announced the Flyer back in February, and while the 7” tablet would be running a new version of sense with HTC-worthy hardware it curiously was only running non-tablet optimized Android 2.3. We later found out that Honeycomb is not yet open source, and HTC had not been provided with the source code. To some extent they have countered with their own excellent Sense interface, and with the release of the EVO View 4G on Sprint they have added 4G data to the model, but will that be enough to compete against the Galaxy Tabs and Transformers of today? Read on to find out!

Design:

The HTC EVO View 4G shares the same design as the Flyer we reviewed last month, but in keeping with the EVO family, the color scheme has been changed to charcoal with red accents. We approve. We really approve. Not to say the Flyer isn’t good looking, but the EVO View 4G makes you take notice whereas the Flyer can blend in. Couple that with the aluminum unibody construction that HTC is so good at and you have a seriously good looking device. The EVO View 4G still has plastic accents on the top and bottom; the top one can be removed to access the microSD slot and we’d imagine that the bottom one houses the antennas for less interference. This bottom insert is raised significantly above the rest of the body which gives it a nice hand hold when held in landscape mode, but makes the EVO View 4G feel a bit awkward in portrait orientation.




The HTC EVO View 4G is noticeably heavy at 15oz, but that is due in large part to the metal casing and glass screen. The 7” display with 1024x600 resolution seems noticeably better than any of HTC’s smartphone panels, it is quite bright, vivid and can be viewed from just about any angle. There are four capacitive buttons below the display: Home, Menu and Back as well as a dedicated button for the HTC Scribe Pen (more on that later.) Rotate the display to the left and the same four buttons will light up below the display with the 1.3MP front-facing camera above it.


Along the top of the EVO View 4G is a power button and 3.5mm headphone jack, on the right is the volume rocker and a microUSB port is on the bottom. On the back the 5MP main camera is trimmed in red and two speaker cutouts are along the right side, also accented in EVO red.



The HTC EVO View 4G is more comfortable to hold in landscape mode than portrait, but is undeniably a well-built device. We do have to mention that it doesn’t resist fingerprints at all, it’s probably in your best interest to just get used to it rather than trying to keep it clean. Like any HTC device we have no worries that it will hold up longer than you’ll use the device.



Interface and Software:

The HTC EVO View 4G runs the new Sense 3.0 user interface, similar to what you’ll find on the new Sensation and EVO 3D. We took an in-depth look at it in our Flyer review, but if you’re looking for the short version it retains everything we love about Sense, then adds some slick new animations, ups the homescreen count to 8 (the Flyer “only” has 7), adds a more functional notification drop down and a handful of new widgets. With so much more display space the new widgets offer better functionality in portrait mode. For example, the full screen calendar widget shows your month view on the top two thirds or so, and the bottom third has an agenda view. The interface will rotate 90 degrees when you turn the EVO View 4G, but when in landscape mode this extra pane disappears in the widgets. Despite the larger display the menu still sticks to the 4x4 grid found on Android phones, so there is a lot of spacing between elements.



While Sense does a good job of masking the lack of Honeycomb, HTC wasn’t able to get around it completely. There are times, such as when browsing the Market, when you are reminded that Android 2.3 is not designed for tablets and you wish the font or pictures were larger. You’ll notice that spacing isn’t always right, or that all apps won’t run full screen either. Another big drawback is the lack of Google Talk video chat since the EVO View runs Android 2.3.3 and not 2.3.4 (the device later received an update to 2.3.4, but video chat remained absent).


Despite this HTC shows just how good it is at UI design with Sense 3.0 and it flies on the EVO View 4G. The interface has a number of 3D transition effects that don’t hurt system performance at all. This is thanks in part to the 1.5GHz single-core Snapdragon processor.

One of the really, really cool features is HTC Scribe pen. Sold separately on the Flyer ($80), if bought through Best Buy, the Scribe pen comes bundled with the EVO View 4G. It allows the user to scribble notes on the screen as well as interact with some specific items. A stylus is nothing new, in fact it is something manufacturers and operating systems have tried to eliminate over the past few years, but HTC brings it back with a bang. Simply tap the screen with the Scribe pen and the software captures a screenshot that you can scribble on. The pen icons on the bezel can only be activated with the pen itself, and it brings up the options such as different writing instruments, colors and sizes.


There are two buttons on the pen. Holding the top button changes the function from write to erase. In certain applications, such as the HTC Reader app (yep, another bookstore) if you hold the bottom button it will highlight selected text in the book you’re reading. To top it all off it syncs with Evernote for immediate cloud backup. Even though the pen is light and no bigger than your average pen, it is another item you need to carry around with you. If you can get past that there are a lot of cool applications for the Scribe technology, and it will no doubt be a solid business tool.



Internet and Connectivity:

One of the main advantages of the HTC EVO View 4G is that it has access to Sprint's WiMAX network. In comparison tests with our EVO 4G we got similar up and download speeds, so thankfully it does not suffer from any connectivity issues. The EVO View of course has Wi-Fi b/g/n on board and also boasts Bluetooth 3.0. GPS can be utilized for any number of apps, not the least of which is Google Maps which looks awesome on the big screen.

The web browser manages to load complex pages fairly quickly, even such with Flash content on them. Its general performance in terms of scrolling and zooming is also more than adequate.



Camera and Multimedia:

The camera interface is the same updated version found on the Flyer. There are several manual control options, such as exposure, contrast, saturation, sharpness as well as other niceties like face detection, geotagging and plenty of effects. The 5MP rear shooter wasn’t exactly up to today's standards however, even in strong, natural light images lacked detail and sharpness and just looked soft. The 720p video wasn't the best we've seen, but generally it performed well. We don't see too many users choosing to use a large tablet as a camera, so these aren't as major issues as they would be with a high-end phone. point.




HTC EVO View 4G Sample Video:



Another cool new feature is that, in landscape mode, the Gallery and Music apps are two paned, letting you browse on the left and play/view on the right. The HTC Music app is otherwise pretty much the same app we’ve seen for a while now. The EVO View 4G’s stereo speakers are loud but hollow. SRS audio enhancement is available to help out. Videos looked great on the 7” display and we had no issues playing a variety of file types and resolutions. We can’t help but think how incredibly awesome a kickstand would be on the EVO View 4G though.



Conclusion:

The HTC EVO View 4G is a very well built tablet with an amazing user interface. The 7” slap of glass and aluminum is more portable than the larger tablets on the market and the battery life was good enough to get us through two days of pretty heavy usage. Always innovating, HTC’s Scribe technology brings a unique and very useful element to the tablet market. When this is paired with Sprint’s 4G network it’s hard to deny the value and versatility of the EVO View 4G, however the tablet is at a disadvantage by not running Google’s tablet-optimized software like the rest of its competitors. This isn’t a deal-breaker for potential buyers, but until HTC can push out a Honeycomb update it will likely keep some away.

Software version of the reviewed unit:
Android: 2.3.4
S/W: 1.22.651

HTC EVO View 4G Video Review:

Pros

  • Great materials and design
  • High-quality display
  • Battery life is more than adequate
  • Sense 3.0 almost makes up for the lack of Android 3.0
  • HTC Scribe is a cool feature
  • WiMAX support

Cons

  • No Honeycomb yet
  • Lackluster camera performance
  • Scribe pen is yet another accessory to carry around

PhoneArena Rating:

8.5

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