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Should HTC have waited for a Honeycomb Flyer?

Would the Taiwanese manufacturer have been better served by releasing the 7-inch tablet with Android 3.0? Not necessarily.

HTC's tablet-optimized version of Sense should appeal to prospective buyers. HTC

As you probably know by now, HTC has officially unveiled its first Android tablet, the 7-inch Flyer. With all the major players recently announcing new tablets, it was only a matter of time before the Taiwanese manufacturer threw its hat into the ring.

In terms of hardware, it has pretty much everything we were expecting. Thanks to its 1.5GHz processor, 1GB RAM, and 5-megapixel camera, the Flyer can stand proudly next to Samsung's Galaxy Tab. Holding one's own against a 6-month-old tablet is one thing, but how does the Flyer stack up against the new crop of tablets from Samsung, Motorola, and LG?

Looking through comments across a few Android blogs today, much is already being made of the Flyer's lack of the tablet-friendly Honeycomb. For all the potential that comes with high-end hardware, software is the first thing most people notice. As we're starting to see, apps written with Honeycomb in mind look considerably different than those that are not. So, was HTC too hasty in releasing its first Android tablet with "just" Gingerbread? Would it have been better off waiting until it was ready to release it with 3.0 under the hood?

I don't think so. In fact, I might argue that HTC was better off with its proprietary, tablet-optimized Sense UI.

One thing I've learned from watching Sense change over the last few years is that it's approachable to new smartphone users. While Android junkies and savvier buyers may prefer a "pure" Google experience, the Sense UI never feels as cluttered or intrusive as say, Motoblur. HTC has evolved its custom interface over time, adding new widgets and features such as cloud-based backups. Along the same lines, the company has created new features like Timemark and HTC Watch that will ensure users get more than just a phone experience on a larger screen. The integration of a stylus and HTC Scribe also adds a unique twist not found on other tablets.

I would anticipate that this latest version of Sense will be attractive to folks looking at their first tablet purchase. Still, this is not to say that Honeycomb wouldn't make things just that much better.

Regardless of how unique the Sense interface is, there will still be people who want to have the latest and greatest in Android.

HTC understands this and is already fielding inquiries on the matter. A tweet from the company earlier today tells us to expect Honeycomb on the Flyer at some point in the second quarter of this year. We've previously heard rumors that HTC has two other tablets on the horizon, both expected to launch with Android 3.0 in the first half of the year.

Considering we don't have an exact time frame for the Flyer's debut, it may be possible to squeeze some Honeycomb on it before it comes Stateside. Either way, I feel pretty good about HTC's chances in the Android tablet space.