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HTC is off to a flyer at phonefest MWC, announcing its first tablet. The HTC Flyer is a 7-inch slate running Android, taking on the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Apple iPad.

In the Flyer's aluminium unibody casing, there's a 1.4GHz single-core processor. It connects to the Web with Wi-Fi and HSPA+, although the 3G connection doesn't support voice calls.

At launch, it will run version 2.4 of Android, known as Gingerbread like 2.3. An update to version 3.0 Honeycomb will follow. Honeycomb is a version of Google's operating system specifically designed for the larger screens of tablets, giving apps, videos and Web browsing the chance to stretch its legs. It's making its debut on the Motorola Xoom.

HTC has redesigned its apps to take advantage of the larger screen, so you get a roomier version of the email, calendar and other core apps. When the tablet updates to Honeycomb, it'll also be able to take advantage of roomier apps developed by third parties.

The Flyer's 7-inch screen boasts a 1,024x768-pixel resolution. It's a capacitative touchscreen so you can use multitouch gestures, swiping a finger to move through photos, tapping on links and menus, and using two fingers to make things bigger or smaller. But on top of that, you can use a stylus too. It recognises the stylus and your fingers at the same time, for full two-handed fiddling about.

The stylus is included. It's similar to the pen that comes with a Wacom graphics tablet: powered by its own battery, the stylus has a pressure-sensitive tip. There are two buttons on the side, to erase or select your scribblings. You can make notes in books and sign PDFs.

There's a new Notes app, similar to the note-taking app on the iPad. Cleverly, it syncs with Evernote.

The Flyer comes with a case and stylus, with dock, stand and keyboard also on sale. The Flyer will be sold through the phone networks when it arrives in early Q2. A cheaper Wi-Fi version will follow later. The price is yet to be confirmed, but we suspect it won't be cheap.

We've tried out the tablet already, so wing your way to our hands-on preview of the HTC Flyer.

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