Editors' note: Thanks to the release of recent, high-quality tablets, the overall score of the Evo View 4G has been adjusted down from 7.3 to 6.
While the rest of the industry is rushing to produce 10-inch tablets that compete directly against the Apple iPad 2, HTC and Sprint are throwing out a curveball called the HTC Evo View 4G. Using a 7-inch screen and running Android 2.3, the HTC Evo View 4G is nearly identical to the HTC Flyer we reviewed in May, only with Sprint's 3G/4G cellular data under the hood, along with some extra services.
At first blush the pricing seems reasonable, with a 32GB model going for $399. But don't forget to factor in a two-year commitment to Sprint's 4G data plans, which start at $34.99 per month for 3GB of 3G data and unlimited 4G data use (where available). Also, if you want to use GPS navigation, that's another $2.99 per day or $10 per month. Activating the Evo View 4G's Mobile Hot Spot feature (allowing up to eight connected devices) will stick another $29.99 per month on your bill. In other words, this is not a cheap device. If the 4G wireless connection isn't a big deal to you, you may be better off with the Wi-Fi-only HTC Flyer, or any number of excellent tablets currently on the market.
Does the Evo View 4G have its head in the sand, or is this portable 7-inch tablet worth every penny? Let's take a look.
The Evo View 4G looks and feels like a high-end take on the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The 7-inch screen size and surrounding bezel are identical, but HTC wraps its tablet in black aluminum with two strips of rubber padding on the back. With a little brute force, the topmost rubber fitting can be removed to reveal a microSD memory expansion slot, which is a convenient design trick adopted from the world of smartphones.
Across the bottom of the screen you'll find the typical trio of Android smartphone navigation buttons (Home, Menu, and Back) along with an illuminated button that responds only to HTC's Scribe pen accessory (included from Sprint for a limited time), which we'll explain in the next section. One impressive feature of the navigation controls is that they'll reorient to the bottom of the screen regardless of whether you're holding the tablet in portrait or landscape. It's a neat and practical trick, and one we haven't seen before. That said, it's a trick that today's Android 3.0 tablets don't need to employ, since all navigation is moved to the screen.
On the top edge of the Evo View 4G you'll find a headphone jack and a power button/screen lock. The right edge offers an amply sized volume rocker along with two pinhole microphones. The back holds a pair of small speaker grilles and a 5-megapixel camera lens capable of HD video recording (though lacking an integrated flash).
On the bottom edge of the Evo View 4G is a unique 12-pin Micro-USB port, compatible with the included USB sync cable and charging adapter. At first, we found it annoying that HTC would use a specialized connector for syncing and charging, but it turns out that our old trusty 5-pin Micro-USB (type B) cable works just fine, too. All those extra pins are just there for HTC's line of audio/video output accessories. In the end, it's a model example of how manufacturers can maintain basic connection standards, while still incorporating specialized accessories.
Overall, the HTC Evo View 4G is a solidly built little tablet with a lot of attention paid to details. But in comparison with Apple's highly successful iPad 2, the HTC Evo View 4G is relatively thick and its screen area is approximately half that of the iPad. There's an argument to be made for tablets with the Evo View 4G's smaller, more portable screen size, but for us, the experience often overlaps too much with using a smartphone and still feels constricted for Web browsing.
As a 7-inch tablet running Android 2.3, the Evo View 4G doesn't show us much we haven't seen on the Samsung Galaxy Tab running Android 2.2. Granted, we do appreciate HTC's Sense UI customizations for social network feeds and commonly used applications (Mail, Internet, Stocks, Weather, Reader), but that doesn't quite make up for the fact that T-Mobile's excellent (also 4G, but running Honeycomb) is selling for the same $399 price (after a mail-in rebate).
There are a few little things that made us smile. For example, Adobe Flash 10.1 is preinstalled, and the browser's default setting loads full sites instead of their mobile-optimized versions. HTC's refinements to the stock Android Mail and Calendar apps add split-pane views similar to on the iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab. Android's text messaging app is also included, as well as Qik video chat, Polaris Office, and Sprint's own suite of apps, such as Sprint Radio, Sprint Zone, and Sprint Mobile Wallet.