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HTC Flyer, new Desire, Facebook phones: first look

HTC has officially taken the wraps off six new devices for the first half of 2011, including a 7-inch Android tablet called Flyer.

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Joseph Hanlon
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Introducing the HTC Flyer

HTC today unveiled six new Android-powered devices, the largest number of devices announced by the company at a single event. These new devices included a 7-inch tablet, called the Flyer, updated versions of the Desire, Wildfire and Droid Incredible, plus two new devices with dedicated Facebook integration.

HTC saved the best 'till last at its press event at Barcelona today, unveiling the Flyer 7-inch tablet as its grand finale. Click through for our hands-on experience.

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A Sense for tablets

Unlike Samsung, LG and Motorola, HTC has opted not to use Google's new Honeycomb OS for the Flyer, choosing to optimise Gingerbread instead. This may sound like a recipe for disaster, but as you can see for the next half-dozen images in this gallery, HTC does seem to have created a fitting and unique tablet experience, starting with this 3D carousel-style home screen.

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HTC Scribe

There had been rumours that HTC's tablet would be called the Scribe, but today the company revealed it had saved that title for its central tablet accessory — a pen to annotate documents and web pages on the tablet.

Scribe works a lot like the Livescribe technology, with the ability to record ambient audio while you take notes in a feature that HTC has dubbed Timemark. When you return to your notes later you can press on any section of your scribbling to hear exactly what was being said when you took that specific note.

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HTC Watch

Luckily, HTC Watch doesn't refer to a phone you wear on your wrist. HTC Watch is a new video-on-demand service for the HTC Flyer, offering users the option to buy and download feature-length movies to watch on their tablet.

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Apps for Tabs

HTC proves Google isn't the only company with the skills to design a tablet-sized user experience, with apps like the gallery optimised to take advantage of the extra screen real estate.

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OnLive = OMG

As we predicted, HTC's recent investment in cloud gaming service OnLive has produced a partnership that has the potential to make a huge change in the way we think about mobile gaming. The Flyer can connect to the OnLive servers and stream console games to play with customised on-screen controls.

The only downside is that OnLive doesn't currently have any servers in Australia, so it's unlikely we'll have the thrill of testing this service when the Flyer launches down under.

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HTC ChaCha and Salsa

It may not be a Facebook-branded phone, but it may be as close as we'll ever really see of one. The ChaCha and Salsa both feature a dedicated, context-aware Facebook hotkey to quickly share a variety of content with your friends online.

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Share bear

The Facebook button supports a variety of functions depending on which application you are in. From the home screen it launches a quick update box in the browser, which automatically shares the page on your Wall. You can also share photos or the title of the song you are listening to in the gallery and music player.

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HTC Incredible S

Last year, Desire was the name on everyone's lips, this year it could well be Incredible. The Incredible S is the big daddy of the straight-up smartphones announced by HTC at MWC 2011. A 4-inch Super LCD display and a 1GHz Qualcomm processor with integrated graphics processing lead the specs on a nice if somewhat unremarkable update to the HTC Android family.

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Exposed mechanics

According to HTC, one of the key selling points of the new Incredible is the shape of the battery cover, which follows the shape of the internal components. This design is, of course, consistent with the Droid Incredible, released in the US in 2010.

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That old feeling

In our MWC predictions we anticipated a notable update to the HTC Sense UI, but from what we could tell in our hands-on time, Sense is pretty much the same as it was in the Desire HD.

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HTC Desire S

For starters, what in the world does S stand for? Does the S in Desire S mean the same thing as it did in Galaxy S and iPhone 3GS?

Those expecting a big, bold new Desire will be puzzled to learn that it's "second verse, same as the first" in the land of Desire. The Desire S features the same 3.7-inch Super LCD display and receives modest bumps in its processor, RAM and internal storage, which is now up to 1GB for users to store apps and media.

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A one-piece cossie

Fans of HTC's unibody handsets will be pleased to find the new Desire carved from a single block of aluminium.

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Small things

One simple addition to Sense we discovered on the Desire was the addition of a Quick Settings tab on the drop-down notifications panel. This should help users manage battery life better with a quick way to switch 3G and Wi-Fi data on and off.

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HTC Wildfire S

Last but not least, the Wildfire S is an entry-level HTC handset. Like last year's model, the Wildfire S packs all the goodies from the bigger, more expensive models into a cheaper, more compact smartphone.

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