HP's first Android tablet, the $169 HP Slate, delivers a price consumers will like, but skimps on display and processor.
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HP surprised attendees of the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona by announcing the HP Slate, a $169 Android tablet for consumers that arrives in April.
The HP Slate is a smaller tablet with a 7-inch display. HP claims the high-aperture-ratio Field Fringe Switching (HFFS) panel offers wide viewing angles. It weighs in at 13 ounces and is powered by an ARM dual-core Cortex A9 1.6-GHz processor. Other features include a 3-megapixel main camera and a VGA secondary camera.
The Android-based Slate includes the typical gamut of Google services, in addition to HP ePrint for wireless printing. The Slate also features Beats Audio, which HP claims is a first for a tablet. Beats Audio is technology that improves music playback.
"To address the growing interest in tablets among consumers and businesses alike, HP will offer a range of form factors and leverage an array of operating systems," said Alberto Torres, SVP, Mobility Global Business Unit, HP. "Our new HP Slate on Android represents a compelling entry point for consumer tablets."
On paper, the HP Slate sounds like a reasonably good alternative to similarly-spec'd tablets such as the Google Nexus 7. In real life, however, it does not.
First, the good. The build quality is impressive for its price point. The back of the Slate, which is available in several different colors, is made from a high-quality, soft-touch plastic. The plastic meets a stainless steel band that wraps all the way around the outer edge of the Slate. The plastic backing, steel band, and excellent manufacturing give the Slate an incredible leg up on devices such as the plastic Nexus 7.
In order to make the $169 price point, HP needed to trim costs somewhere. HP skimped on the display and the processor.
The display measures 7 inches across the diagonal, but offers just 1024 x 768 pixels. By way of comparison, the Nexus 7 has 1280 x 800 pixels. Further, colors are muted, it is not bright at all, and the viewing angles don't live up to HP's claims. It is not a high-quality display, not by any stretch. The dual-core processor felt strained at simple tasks. Screen transitions were slow and stutter-y. Apps were lethargic to open and stalled or froze from time to time. Media playback, in particular, suffered from the lack of horsepower.
The HP Slate is a true case of "you get what you pay for." The build quality, weight, and feel, of the device are nearly top-of-the-class, but the inferior screen and laggy processor make the HP Slate a dubious purchase at best.
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