HP Slate 7.

How can a tablet that feels so good be so ... not good

What do you do if you've long since past being a laughingstock in the mobile business? You failed at Windows Mobile. You bought Palm and put webOS out to pasture. And now, if you're HP, your first real foray into Android is a tablet that's nice from afar, but far from nice.

Such is the HP Slate 7.

Android Central at Mobile World Congress

Let's be perfectly clear about one thing: Pick up the Slate 7, and you're holding a tablet that feels like it could easily go toe to toe with the Nexus 7 or any of Samsung's 7-inch-ish tablets. It's nicely built. It's less than half a millimeter thicker than the Nexus 7. Priced at $169, it could sell. Hell, it probably will sell. Stick it in every brick-and-mortar store next to a Nexus 7, and chances are most normal consumers won't notice a difference, save for the price tag.

But you, dear reader, are no normal consumer. You can do better than the 1024 x 600 display. And make no mistake, the Nexus 7's 1280 x 800 display is better. You can do better than the 1.6 GHz dual-core processor. You can do better than the 8GB of storage. And you won't have to break the bank to do so.

Oh, and hope you don't need NFC. Or GPS. 'Cause neither of those revolutionary new technologies is in the Slate 7.

But at least it has Beats Audio. So that licensing agreement isn't going to waste.

Software-wise, you're looking at stock Android 4.1.1. That's it. There's an HP-specific app for printing and what not that failed to load under the Wifi strain here, but that's hardly going to keep us from not buying this tablet.

Or maybe we were just expecting more from HP, a company that has the resources to do better than this. And there's a good chance that this is just a toe in the water. That this is a tablet to keep HP's name in the game, and that's all. As for us? We'll wait till Round 2, thank you.