HP Slate Overview
The HP Slate 500 is targeted at business customers but you shouldn’t discount it if you’re looking for a top-end Windows tablet for your personal use. The high powered processor and HP’s implementation of Microsoft Windows 7 means this 9-inch slate device provides a strong user experience. It overcomes the deficiencies in Windows’ application to a tablet device using a digitiser pen and handwriting recognition.
The HP Slate touts an impressive spec with an 8.9-inch capacitive multitouch screen, 1.86 GHz Intel Atom Processor, 2GB SDRAM, 64GB internal storage, USB and MicroSD port, front facing webcam and 3 megapixel rear facing camera. Today on What Tablet PC we look at what this means to the user.
Should you buy a HP Slate 500?
The long awaited HP Slate is finally here, albeit in a slightly different format than expected. The HP Slate 500 that is now available for order is the first true Windows tablet aimed squarely at the business market. That’s not to say, if you’re a Windows-centric person, that it won’t also provide a good option for personal use either.
It’s touted as an enterprise tablet because it’s aimed at the premium end of the market (costing $799), securely connects to corporate networks, integrates with business IT infrastructures and runs applications that would fit with those traditionally used by the business world – think Microsoft Office, inventory systems and other enterprise software.
As this tablet runs Windows, businesses or personal users can take any application they currently run or have developed on their existing Windows environment and use it on the device. However, there is a word of warning here that using applications on a tablet device that’s touch-optimised is very different from using them on a desktop/laptop that works with a mouse e.g. fiddly menus aren’t very easy to navigate with a finger. HP have tried to overcome this by including a digitiser pen which can be used as a stylus to navigate Windows.
What’s the design of the HP Slate like?
- Dimensions/Weight – 1.5 lb (0.68 kg), 9.21 inches by 5.91 inches and 0.58 inches thick (23.40 cm by 15.00 cm by 1.47 cm).
- 8.9 inches (measured diagonally) touchscreen – it’s a capacitive screen so responsive like an iPad and the wide-viewing angles mean you still get a good picture if there’s a few people trying to look at the screen at the same time from different angles. It’s a multi-touch screen which means pinch-to-zoom functionality is supported if you need to get in close to text or images quickly. The screen resolution is 1024 pixels by 600 pixels.
- The edges are metal (containing the ports, jacks and buttons that we’ll come to shortly) and there is a rubbery back which gives it a solid feel.
Content Creation on the HP Slate
The HP slate is designed for “moderate content creation.” What this means is that HP believe you can write emails and type short documents on the device but anything more substantial needs a more traditional input such as a physical keyboard.
The HP Slate 500 has multitouch and pen-input capabilities, and includes an on-screen virtual keyboard for typing. The pen-input is very interesting as this is the first tablet that really puts handwriting recognition to the forefront – scribble your name or a few words using the digitizer pen on the screen and it can snap this to typed characters.
What are the features of the HP Slate 500?
- Processor - Intel Atom Z540 (1.86 GHz) – this is a high powered processor so handles the intricacies of Windows 7 well. You can expect a decent performance. In comparison the iPad runs with an 1 GHz Apple A4 processor so lower powered, that said, it doesn’t need to do the heavy lifting that the HP Slate needs to as Windows is a much heavier operating system than the iOS operating system on an iPad
- Memory - 2 GB SDRAM – the memory capacity the tablet PC uses to store data whilst it’s in use – think of it as short term memory used for processing. In this case 2 GB is again high in comparison to other tablets; it’s 8 times that of the iPad, twice the size of the Blackberry PlayBook and 4 times the size of the Galaxy Tab. The impact of this for a user perspective is in performance of the device and this size of RAM means that the Slate 500 can handle a full Windows operating system compared to the lighter operating systems of the other tablets.
- Storage - Up to 64 GB – memory that can hold larger amounts of data and files such as music, movies or other documents – this memory also holds onto this data even when the tablet PC is turned off. 64 GB is the same size as the iPad and large enough for a mobile device. Add to this that you have the option to add an external CD / DVD drive (attached via the USB port) to your order that can connect direct to the Slate 500. This could then be used for loading data off a disc or burning data from the Slate to a disc. Similarly an external hard drive or USB stick could be used for additional storage.
- Broadcom Crystal HD Enhanced Video Accelerator - this means the tablet is capable of dealing with full-on high definition video at 1080p and, with the right leads, you can also output full HD video to your HD TV if you want to watch video that is stored on your tablet on the big screen.
- USB port – for connecting to external devices or storage.
- Stereo headphone/mic jack – plus an integrated microphone
- SD card slot - means you can add an SD card with additional memory to store files such as music and video. Digital cameras typically use an SD card so you can take the SD card from your camera, slot it in and upload your photos for viewing.
- Integrated stereo speakers - high definition audio output
- 3 megapixel camera – for taking pictures or recording video
- VGA webcam – for video conferencing with services such as Skype
- WiFi - if you have a wireless network set-up at home or you are in a public wireless area then the Slate will find the network and connect to the internet. Note: 3G isn’t integrated with the Slate – you’d need to get a 3G dongle to plug in via the USB port to connect to a 3G network.
- Bluetooth – used for wireless syncing with other devices such as a mouse, keyboard or printer
- HP Slate Cradle connector – plug this in, attach your Slate and it will charge up the battery
- Battery life - up to 5+ hours – charge in the dock. This is not bad given its running a full operating system and much better than any other Windows tablets up to now. You should get a pretty reasonable amount of mobility with this length of charge
- Check out the complete list of HP Slate 500 features
Should You Buy a Tablet PC Running Windows?
The HP Slate runs Windows 7 so you get access to all the Windows apps you can get for your desktop. Windows on a tablet means you have the versatility to manipulate your device just as you would with your desktop and it gives you the compatibility with your desktop applications.
As the HP Slate 500 runs Windows, you have full access to any Adobe Flash content. A fair amount of games, videos and animations on websites are produced in Flash so you need Flash compatibility to view these. If you have this then you’ll have access to the complete web allowing you to get all those Flash videos embedded in websites or web apps like the BBC iPlayer.
Windows also gives you multitasking capability so you can run more than one application at a time using lots of different windows. The more windows you open the more strain it put on the processor though so the device may slow.
Windows 7 is touch-enabled which means it will work happily if you want to use it on a touch-screen device – e.g. it will respond to finger swipes and you can get a virtual keyboard on the screen to enter data. However Windows 7 isn’t built specifically for tablet PCs so it’s not as straight forward to use on a device like this compared with other operating systems such as Android or iOS that are specifically build for touch-screen devices.
Windows is a full operating system and what this means is that it drains power and this impacts the battery life. It can also slow performance as, just like your desktop, a Windows tablet will need anti-virus and firewall software to prevent it picking up malware. These can impact performance as they need to be constantly checking for intrusions and also can conflict with other software. This isn’t something you need to worry about on an iPad as all apps on the iPad need to be checked by Apple before they’re approved which means they check for anything nasty at that point.
One other point is that using a full Windows operating system means you have to wait for the device to boot up for a minute or two when you turn it on before you can use it. Compare this to an iPad which has an optimised tablet OS and it’s only a matter of seconds from turning the power on and being able to use it.
The HP Slate 500 Is The Best Windows Tablet PC So Far
If you’ve ever used a Windows PC, you know what kind of experience you’ll get and the HP Slate 500 brings that to a tablet in an effective way. The fact that HP have included a digital pen probably says it all for Windows’ ability to transition to tablets - it needs a bit of help given the precision needed to get around menus rather than finger input associated with tablet devices. That said, a full operating system gives you huge versatility, access to millions of apps scattered across the web and all the associated plugins – full Adobe Flash compatability for example. These are big reasons why the Slate is compatible with business software and why this device is targeted at companies rather than personal users.
Microsoft have tried and failed to launch slate-like devices with Windows in the past but the HP Slate looks to be the first time the operating system and hardware have worked effectively together. HP have a sound history in going part way to this through their range of convertible tablet-netbooks that have touch-screen so have bought a lot of that learning to the Slate 500.
Keep in mind that HP plan to release a consumer tablet that’s more comparable to the iPad and that’s based on the WebOS operating system so there’s more to come from them for the personal user. It’s fair to say that the HP Slate 500 running Windows shouldn’t be compared to an iPad - its components are much more powerful and running a full operating system gives a wider range of uses but also puts much more pressure on the device dealing with those. The iPad is a media consumption device; the HP Slate is an alternative to a full blown laptop… that comes with a substantial price tag.
Check out the full features of the HP Slate 500 and user reviews.
Image Source: HP