BlackBerry PlayBook v HTC Flyer v Asus Transformer

Apple iPad 2 rivals: Are they up to the task?

Helping you decide which tablet you need in your life

Knocking the iPad 2 off from its lofty perch is proving a tall task for rival tablet-makers, but in 2011 the competition has certainly improved.

MORE BlackBerry PlayBook review I HTC Flyer review I Asus Eee Transformer review

Step forward the BlackBerry PlayBook, HTC Flyer, and the 10.1-inch Asus Eee Pad Transformer. All three claim to offer a unique tablet experience, but which one is the best?

We pit the three tablets against each other to find out which slate is a genuine iPad 2 challenger.

Design and build

HTC Flyer
Brushed metal with white accents, the Flyer is certainly eye-catching, although the latter feels a bit little wobbly. Weighing in at 420g, you can easily hold it with one hand. (Winner)

BlackBerry PlayBook
The smooth rubberised back makes it comfortable to hold and feels very durable though. At 425g you can hold this with one hand, although it lacks the wow factor of the HTC Flyer.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer
At 680g this substantial tablet needs to be held with two hands and the bezel makes it feel a bit wide. Build quality is good, although the design is too safe in a crowded market.

Screen

HTC Flyer
The 7-inch 1024x600 screen is bright and sharp, but whites seem dull compared to the PlayBook and when taking photographs in particular, it’s incredibly soft.

BlackBerry PlayBook
Despite having the same resolution of 1024x600, here whites are brighter and text seems a bit sharper than the Flyer.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer
IPS tech on the the 10.1-inch 1280x80 screen is fantastic: Sharp, detailed and handles motion well, with excellent off-angle viewing. (Winner)

Performance

HTC Flyer
Although we didn’t find the Flyer slow, the 1.5Ghz processor is no match for the rivals. For everyday it’s fine though, but it just isn’t as powerful as rivals for HD gaming and media streaming.

BlackBerry PlayBook
Powered by a 1Ghz dual-core processor with 1GB RAM, the PlayBook is exceptionally quick. With multitasking you can effortlessly swap between applications, keeping them running and it doesn’t slow down. (Joint winner)

Asus Eee Pad Transformer
There’s a dual core 1Ghz Tegra chip and 1GB RAM, the Transformer is fast, and it’s powerful for streaming HD video, playing games or browsing the internet. (Joint winner)

UI

HTC Flyer
Android 2.3 with HTC Sense, it’s very intuitive and simple to use, while new widgets mean it never feels like a big smartphone. We would have preferred Honeycomb though.

BlackBerry PlayBook
Open applications run along the top, it’s very easy to use and slightly quicker then HTC, with more information accessible from the homescreen. Controls such as swiping up to return to homescreen are intuitive. (Winner)

Asus Eee Pad Transformer
Honeycomb has a slick interface with some great features, such as the Gmail client and YouTube app. It takes time to become familiar with it and can be quirky, but it’s enjoyable to use.


Connectivity

HTC Flyer
No HDMI or DLNA, but there is Bluetooth 3.0 and choices of WiFi and WiFi and 3G configurations at 16GB and 32GB respectively.

BlackBerry PlayBook
There’s no 3G version, instead you tether using your Blackberry handset, but you get HDMI and Bluetooth 2.1, but no DLNA yet. Choose from 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions. (Joint winner)

Asus Eee Pad Transformer
WiFi version only at the moment, but elsewhere there’s Bluetooth 2.1, HDMI and DLNA. Choose from 16GB and 32GB configurations. (Joint winner)

Camera

HTC Flyer
5-megapixel pictures are very soft, with bold and slightly oversaturated colours, although there’s a good selection of features. 720p movies at least run smoothly, but again, they are so soft, detail is just lost.

BlackBerry PlayBook
Sure, camera features might be non-existent, but 5-megapixel stills and 1080p video are the best of the three by a long way, colours are natural and detail sharp. (Winner)

Asus Eee Pad Transformer
Blurry 720p footage is the worst we’ve seen on a tablet, running at a juddery 8fps, and the five-meg stills are not great either. Easily the Transformer's worst feature.

Extras

HTC Flyer
Supplied with the Flyer is a pen for making annotations on the tablet. Once you get used to the controls, it’s easy to use and will undeniably be useful for many people.

BlackBerry PlayBook
Nothing really extra beyond the usual tablet features, although shooting 1080p video in both cameras is a bonus.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer
Spend £50 extra to get a keyboard the tablet slots firmly into; this includes USB ports for peripherals and an SD slot. A well-designed netbook/tablet hybrid. (Winner)

T3 Verdict

HTC Flyer

We like the Flyer, it looks amazing and for day to day tasks it’s great, but without Honeycomb, HDMI or a dual-core processor it feels a bit behind and very overpriced.

BlackBerry Playbook
Apps may be limited and tethering isn’t an ideal connection solution, but the intuitive UI, powerful processor and excellent connectivity make this our 7-inch tablet of choice.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer
Camera aside. With an amazing screen, fantastic Honeycomb features and Tegra processor, this is the best Android tablet in the market. Did we mention it’s very competitively priced too? (Winner)

Price

HTC Flyer
£479/£599, www.htc.com/uk

BlackBerry Playbook
£349, www.blackberry.co.uk

Asus Eee Pad Transformer
£379, www.asus.co.uk

MORE BlackBerry PlayBook review I HTC Flyer review I Asus Eee Transformer review