($799.99, or 499.99 with a three-year contract through Rogers; rogers.com)
This pricey Android slate only makes sense if you intend to access the Web on the go and get a three-year data plan, which will knock $300 off the ticker and bring its initial cost in line with that of its competitors.
Why so expensive?
Perhaps because of its exemplary build quality. It tips the scales at a beefy 700 grams, but there’s no denying that it looks and feels like a premium tablet. Its edges and corners offer smooth, comfortable curves and its brushed metal back is cool to the touch. Plus, it sports a lovely, 1280-by-800-pixel, 10.1-inch screen which, while not the best I’ve seen, sits higher on the scale than most.
The price could also have something to do with its super-charged guts. It has a 1.5-gigahertz processor, a gigabyte of memory, 32 gigabytes of storage (which can be doubled with a memory card), and a radio that can connect to Rogers’ new LTE network for super speedy downloads. I’m at a loss to think of another tablet with a spec sheet that can compete.
It’s surprising, then, that it doesn’t always run smoothly. Resource-ravenous apps – including graphically sophisticated games – run well enough. But some basic activities, such desktop navigation and text input, suffer from intermittent stuttering and lag. Its innards, enviable though they may be, don’t end up making for an appreciatively better experience than, say, the less-expensive Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
What could end up being the deciding factor for many is HTC Sense, the Taiwanese company’s heavily customized Android overlay. It has its ups and downs, but I like it. Jumping straight into apps from the lock screen is handy, and a large collection of proprietary home-screen widgets generally enhance rather than detract from the experience.
(I can also see value in the Jetstream’s support for HTC’s Scribe digital pen. I didn’t have the opportunity to try this accessory, but using a pen rather than a finger offers clear advantages in many creative applications.)
It’s too pricey to be a notable mainstream success, but consumers looking for a high-powered, elegantly designed alternative to more popular tablets should be well served.
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