HTC Evo View 4G (Sprint) review: HTC Evo View 4G (Sprint)

Features
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 G-Slate (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.

As far as hardware features are concerned, the EVO View 4G's most impressive spec is its 4G network compatibility. Assuming you have Sprint's 4G coverage in your area, the Evo View 4G offers an incredible range of ways to stay connected and pull down content quickly. Other specs, such as a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 1GB of RAM, Bluetooth 3.0, and 802.11n Wi-Fi, are par for the course these days.

The Evo View 4G uses a 1.3-megapixel front camera (same as the Galaxy Tab) and a 5-megapixel camera on the back. By comparison, the Tab's rear camera is limited by a 3-megapixel sensor, but has the advantage of an integrated flash. If you ask us, cameras on tablets always feel a bit awkward, and tend to only come in handy for video chat. The Evo View 4G does come with Qik's two-way video chat software preinstalled, but doesn't include the video-enabled version of Google Talk found in Honeycomb.

Aside from HTC's unique take on the Android interface and Sprint's 4G network speeds, the Evo View further differentiates itself with its Magic Pen or HTC Scribe technology (provided by N-trig). Using a combination of screen sensors and digital pen technology, the HTC Evo View 4G can be used to scribble detailed notes, highlight text, make annotations, sign digital documents, and create intricate, multicolored drawings. For a limited time, Sprint is including the digital pen with the Evo View 4G. If you lose it, though, a replacement will set you back $80.

There's a lot to be said about the pen's usefulness, but it also introduces an extra layer of complexity that not everyone will appreciate. For example, you can't actually operate the tablet with the pen. When you tap the pen on the screen, it inexplicably snaps a screenshot of whatever you're viewing and allows you to mark it up with virtual ink. Any navigation, page scrolling, or app launching still requires your fingers, which leads to a back-and-forth dance between fingers and pen. Put the pen down, and it rolls right off the table. Put the pen in your pocket, and its clipless design is likely to tumble to the floor if you reach down to pick something up. If this were a $2 pen, we wouldn't complain so much--but again, these pens are $80 each.


HTC's Scribe pen has the feel of a Sharpie marker, but not the price of one.

Performance
The HTC Evo View 4G is undeniably fun to use. The interface is fast and responsive. HTC Sense puts an emphasis on connecting with your friends and social networks. Google's excellent core apps are included, such as Gmail, Calendar, Gallery, Maps, Latitude, Navigation, Places, Talk, and, of course, Marketplace. The onscreen multitouch keyboard is excellent and easy to type on using your thumbs in both landscape and portrait orientation. Apps (including the camera) launch within seconds. The Web browser is lean and powerful, with an impressive selection of advanced settings that can be adjusted. All in all, it's everything you'd hope for from a first-class HTC smartphone.

Unfortunately, we can't help but feel that the tablet-as-giant-smartphone concept already wore out its welcome in 2010, with the launch of products like the Dell Streak and Samsung Galaxy Tab. It's a given now that consumers already own a smartphone and expect a tablet to offer something different beyond a bigger screen. The closest the HTC Evo View 4G comes to achieving this is the inclusion of the Scribe technology, but we're not convinced that's a feature most people are looking for, and as a selling point it's hampered by the confusion over the pen's limited-time-only inclusion and prohibitively expensive replacement price.

That said, as the rich man's Galaxy Tab, the HTC Evo View 4G has plenty to brag about. The 1,024x600-pixel-resolution LCD panel quality is beautiful and offers excellent viewing angles and brightness. Image and video capture quality are adequate, though not exceptional. And if you've been looking for a tablet with sophisticated tools for note taking and document annotation, the Evo View 4G's Scribe technology is the best game in town.

Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.

Video battery life (in hours) Maximum brightness (in cd/m2) Default brightness (in cd/m2) Maximum black level (in cd/m2) Default black level (in cd/m2) Default contrast ratio Contrast ratio (max brightness)
HTC Evo View 6.9 454 161 0.51 0.18 894:1 890:1

Final thoughts
The HTC Evo View 4G is a beautiful little tablet that resembles HTC's celebrated line of Android smartphones. Unfortunately, the Evo View 4G is still a 7-inch Gingerbread tablet living in an increasingly 10-inch, Honeycomb world. HTC may eventually be able to carve out a niche for the 7-inch pen-enabled tablet, but Sprint's choice to go with two-year contracts and pricey data plans isn't going to help matters.

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HTC Evo View 4G (Sprint)

Part Number: ATP515CKIT Released: Jun 24, 2011
MSRP: $399.99 Low Price: $350.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jun 24, 2011
  • Wireless Connectivity Bluetooth
  • Type Android
  • Storage 32 GB
  • Service Provider Sprint