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HTC Jetstream review: HTC Jetstream

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MSRP: $699.00

The Good The HTC Jetstream has good build quality and thoughtful design. Also, HTC's Sense interface is integrated into Honeycomb with great success.

The Bad The HTC Jetstream is way overpriced for what it offers, either with a contract or without, and the 4G LTE speeds will be experienced by only a few in the U.S. Also, although button placement is sound, the tablet is thicker and heavier than we prefer.

The Bottom Line The HTC Jetstream brings Sense to Honeycomb successfully, but it prices itself out of most consumers' budgets, while offering little to compensate.

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6.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 5
  • Performance 7

Price matters to everyone to some extent. If you're a vendor planning to sell a tablet that, at its cheapest, is $700, you'd better offer something uniquely compelling. Too many tablets are out there vying for consumer attention and, with limited funds, we need a compelling reason to bite. Keep reading to find out if the HTC Jetstream offers one.

Design
Although not as light as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G, the HTC Jetstream is still easily portable at 1.54 pounds; however, the Jetstream is noticeably thicker than the Tab 10.1 4G. Still, the Jetstream's smooth, rounded corners make it very comfortable to hold and it never felt awkward in our hands. We'd much prefer something lighter and thinner, but the minimalist design and thoughtful button layout here are welcome.

HTC Jetstream Acer Iconia Tab A501 4G AT&T Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G Verizon T-Mobile G-Slate
Weight in pounds 1.54 1.70 1.24 1.38
Width in inches (landscape) 9.9 10.2 10.1 9.6
Height in inches 7 6.9 6.8 5.8
Depth in inches 0.5 0.49 0.3 0.5
Side bezel width in inches (landscape) 0.64 0.77 0.76 0.8

On the front, the Jetstream's rather narrow bezel curves up at the ends, giving it a slightly concave look. In the top bezel are the 1.3-megapixel, front-facing camera and an ambient light sensor.

On the tablet's left edge, toward the top, is a long, 1.5-inch volume rocker. On the top right edge is a small, LED-lit power/lock button; to its right is a headphone jack. The bottom edge houses a microphone pinhole and USB input, which can be used to connect the tablet to external power or a PC for file transfers. The tablet's aluminum back extends down toward a plastic plate that covers the USB input. Where the metal and plastic meet, we could feel small, jagged edges of metal sticking out on the far edges of each side of the plate. Not sharp enough to slice our fingers off, but uncomfortable when our fingers passed over them.


The metal-stained back showcases the Jetstream's high-quality build and sensible design, with a pretty intelligent feature layout. The panel covering the camera opens to reveal a SIM card slot and microSD card slot.

On the back in the upper right corner is a double LED flash-enabled 8-megapixel camera. Toward the bottom are two speakers on either side of the tablet and an engraved HTC logo in the middle of the tablet. Also, there's a removable panel that covers the back camera and houses the SIM card port and microSD card port.


Pictures taken with the Jetstream's 8-megapixel camera didn't look orders of magnitude better than pictures from other tablets; the Jetstream was about on par with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in terms of photo quality.

As with any decent tablet, the centerpiece of the Jetstream's design is the screen. Measuring 10.1 inches and boasting an LED-backlit 1,280x800-pixel resolution, the tablet's screen does the Android experience justice for the most part. However, it isn't powered by an IPS panel or the even-more-powerful PLS screen panel technology. The Jetstream's viewing angles aren't quite as wide as screens using better tech, like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G or Asus Eee Pad Transformer. As a result, the contrast on the Jetstream's screen and the overall screen quality both dip more quickly if viewed from an off angle.

Tested spec HTC Jetstream Acer Iconia Tab A501 4G (AT&T) Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G (Verizon) T-Mobile G-Slate
Maximum brightness 293 cd/m2 322 cd/m2 336 cd/m2 424 cd/m2
Default brightness 187 cd/m2 62.7 cd/m2 336 cd/m2 143 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.2 cd/m2 0.2 cd/m2 0.3 cd/m2 0.52 cd/m2
Default black level 0.12 0.04 cd/m2 0.3 cd/m2 0.18 cd/m2
Default contrast ratio 1,558:1 1,568:1 1,120:1 794:1
Contrast ratio (max brightness) 1,465:1 1,610:1 1,120:1 815:1

Although it has good build quality and thoughtful button placement, the Jetstream's design still feels like it's from a bygone era. It's thicker and heavier than the light tablets out there, but with nothing--other than the microSD and SIM card slots--to show for it. If a tablet is as thick and heavy as the Jetstream, it should offer more in the way of physical features.

Hardware features
The HTC Jetstream is a near spec-for-spec clone of most other Honeycomb tablets. Inside, it takes advantage of a dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm MSM8260 Snapdragon processor and 1GB of RAM, and boasts 802.11n Wi-Fi, support for Bluetooth 2.1, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, GPS, a digital compass, a SIM card slot, and memory expansion via microSD.

The Jetstream is available in 16GB and 32GB capacities, with the only input port being located in the middle of the bottom edge. The Micro-USB port connects the tablet to a power adapter or to a PC for file transfers. The Jetstream is also compatible with HTC's $80 digital pen called the Scribe, sold separately.

Software features
The Jetstream comes with Android 3.1 installed; disappointing, since most Honeycomb users are currently enjoying version 3.2. While Android 3.1 offers refinements over 3.0, some of the additions made to 3.2, like launching files from the microSD card, make it an even more appealing OS.

The Jetstream adds the HTC Sense aesthetic to the Honeycomb experience for the first time and the results are...well, it feels very much like an HTC phone, from the cartoonish look of the icons to the white background of the menus.

HTC preloaded a number of applications on the Jetstream, including HTC Hub, which allows you to download skins, wallpapers, and sound sets. Also included are a number of free games and AT&T tools.

The most useful of these is the AT&T Communication Manager app, which tracks your current data usage and your international roaming data usage, and informs you of your next billing cycle date. The app sits on the home screen by default and updates in real time.

Performance
In terms of general system performance, the HTC Jetstream reacted to our commands about as snappily as most other fast-performing Honeycomb tablets. Apps launched quickly and the Sense-based Honeycomb interface felt responsive.

In terms of photo and video quality, the Jetstream matches most Honeycomb tablets in contrast, clarity, and video frame rate. The 8-megapixel rear camera performed about as ably as the Galaxy Tab 10.1's camera but with less color saturation. However, for picture clarity, the Jetstream's camera can't hold a candle to the Sony Tablet S' capable camera.

The Jetstream uses AT&T's 4G LTE network, that is, if you live in one of the very few cities in the U.S. that supports that network. San Francisco, where we reviewed the tablet, isn't one of those cities.

We downloaded Angry Bird Rio, a 17MB file, on the Jetstream and on the Acer Iconia Tab A501 using AT&T's HSPA+ network and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G using Verizon's 4G LTE network. Here are the results we gathered.

HTC Jetstream Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G Acer Iconia Tab A501
Angry Birds Rio download speed (in seconds) 134 17 191

While the Jetstream wasn't nearly as fast as the Tab 10.1, it was quicker than the Acer by nearly a minute.

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

Video battery life (in hours)
HTC Jetstream 7.7

Conclusion
Whether at its $850 no-contract price or the discounted $700 two-year contract price, the HTC Jetstream is simply not worth the money. It's a capable tablet with good design and good performance, but offers nothing compelling enough to warrant such an exorbitant cost.

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