Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
Aside from having one of the coolest names of any device we've tested, the HTC Jetstream 10.1 Android tablet is a product of many firsts. It is HTC's first attempt at a 10.1 inch Android tablet, it is also Rogers' first bona fide LTE tablet running on the new superfast network. We took a ride on the Jetstream and this is what we think.
After the embarrassment that was the HTC Flyer 7" inch tablet (we know, we owned one) with its silly little $80 Scribe stylus and pompous initial $500 price tag, which was dropped when everyone came to their HTC senses, we thought the company would continue focusing on making excellent smartphones and leave the tablet making to the hoi polloi.
We were stunned that HTC would go and make a bigger Android tablet to compete in an even more crowded market squeezing in between the Galaxy Tabs, the XOOMs, the LG Pads and endless other models of all sizes and shapes.
Go to any big box store today and what you will see is Samsung and Sony stubbornly grasping on to the top end of the price point at $500 and everyone else making a beeline to the bottom. That you can walk away with a perfectly good 32GB 10.1 inch Honeycomb tablet for $399 today, goes to show how crazy this segment is.
The 10.1 inch Android tablet market right now is like an uncomfortable nightclub where everyone is standing around looking cool but covered in sweat and smoke and suddenly they realize that the band they have come to see really isn't very good and that all the drinks are watered down. But its too late to ask for the cover charge back and it is so packed inside that you can't get out.
It seems developers and Google itself have put the brakes on making apps for Honeycomb and are just waiting for the next version; the smartphone and tablet-unifying messiah OS, Ice Cream Sandwich, to kick off. And we get this, it makes sense. Let's move forward.
Except for tablet users, early adopters and those invested in Honeycomb, who visit the marketplace longingly in search of engaging apps and find very few that are worth the time and even fewer that are worth the money. But that'll change soon, we hope.
As for the HTC Jetstream, it is perfectly poised for ultramobility. Just look at the feature set from Rogers below.
- AWS for connectivity on the Rogers LTE network
- Tri-band HSPA+/Quad-band EDGE for connectivity on the Rogers 4G HSPA+ network and roaming in over 190 countries
- Android 3.1 operating system with dual-core 1.5 GHz processor and 32 GB capacity, plus supports up to 32 GB expandable microSD memory
- Rich web browsing with Flash support on a vivid 10” touchscreen (1280x800)
- 8 MP rear camera for 1080p HD video capture; 1.3 MP front facing camera for video calling
- GPS support and Google Maps built-in
- Easy pre-loaded access to Rogers My Account, urMusic™, Rogers On Demand, Macleans™, Sportsnet™ and the Gameloft store
- Sketch, highlight, take notes, sign documents and more with the HTC Scribe™ digital pen accessory (sold separately)
- $499.99 with a 3-year hardware discount agreement ($799.99 No-term)
In terms of LTE performance, the Jetstream is no slouch. Managing an impressive above 11Mbps download speeds, 7Mbps upload speeds and constant connection thanks to the Rogers network. So, that part of it works as advertised.
The LTE (Long Term Evolution) specification provides downlink peak rates of at least 100 Mbit/s, uplink peak rates of at least 50 Mbit/s so there is a chance that these speeds will be increased in the future although we are happy with the speeds.
Compared to our office-issued LG Optimus Pad running HSPA on Rogers (which we though was pretty fast, until now), the HTC Jetstream is a complete speed demon. Having said that, the crazy speed boost isn't something regular users will pay much attention to on a tablet but should be impressive when downloading larger files like Flash video.
As you can see from the photo above, the LG Pad using HSPA (left) has download speeds of 2.87 Mbps and upload speeds of 1.06 Mbps while the LTE Jetstream screams at 27.21 Mbps and uploads at 7.54 Mbps. This is the fastest tablet you can buy today in Canada terms of mobile broadband Internet access.
While the design on this thing is fresh and feels really polished, it feels like it can be easily scratched. The brushed aluminum casing is stunning to behold and lovely to touch plus it really sets the Jetstream apart from the many plastic-clad Honeycomb tablets around. Fans of HTC smarpthones now have a big-boy tablet to love and hold.
Fans of the Iron Man movies will likely be reminded of the Mark II Iron Man suit, which is just as badass as the gold and red one but made out of unpainted grey/silver metal.
We like that HTC splurged on materials but have a few quibbles with the sensitivity of the volume button which seems too easy to set off and gets in the way of operation at times.
The 1.5 Ghz dual core processor moves things around pretty quickly and we like that HTC Sense scales so nicely on the 1280x800 screen.
The HTC Jetstream also allows the use of the limited Scribe Pen, which will be sold as an option and possibly close to the price point of a nice really useful Cross ballpen.
While there are uses for the Scribe pen (it is the only way to take screenshots), it is far from an overachieving stylus. There aren't any third party apps that can take advantage of this so it isn't even a 'nice-to-have'.
Now, if HTC manages to link the Scribe pen to something useful, like Photoshop Touch (coming next month) then we really have something to talk about.
The HTC Jetstream's price ($499.99 with a 3-year hardware discount agreement or $799.99 No-term) makes it a premium device that will attract a very specific demographic.
This is a tablet for business people who love the Android OS and whose personal and work lives require fast and constant connection to the Internet. We would usually buy a contract free model but the $800 price tag would stop us in our tracks.
The 64GB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi and 3G is $849 and has double the storage, the smaller 8.9-inch LG Optimus Pad is $549 for no term and while slower in terms of speed also offers 32GB of storage. The economics speak for themselves.
Users who must have the latest and greatest and can splurge on the HTC Jetstream, well they're getting a pretty awesome tablet with a bold design and HTC's famed Sense UI.
Just remember that Google is dropping Ice Cream Sandwich really soon and that's the OS you want to run on your tablet. So, do yourself a favour and check if and when that next OS will be made available for the HTC Jetstream.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5