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.


Reader comments

Hands-on with the HP Slate 7


The design is pretty impressive. its not that Nexus 7 is bad but this is even better. especially the rim on four side. I have decided to buy only nexus devices. hopefully Nexus7 2 comes with a better design. maybe i will buy one for my dad as a gift.

I like the nexus 7 design personally to each is own I guess. I came from trying a cheap-o zeki so Nexus didn't have much to beat out. However this tablet doesn't impress me and I trust a nexus brand receiving an update over hp doing it. They don't know who they are or what they want to be right now.

At what resolution does it not matter with a 7 inch tablet? I know at a certain point the eye only sees so much.

I'd like a little more resolution in the Nexus 7. It's definitely noticeable to me in the Slate 7. To "civilians"? Probably not.

I can back up 1024x600 not being enough. I got a Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 WiFi+IR for graduation, and the Nexus 7 came out a few weeks later. I wish I had waited, because while the screen doesn't suck, the comparison between my tablet and a Nexus 7 is that of the iPhone 3GS as opposed to the iPhone 4.

I'd like to have a higher resolution as well, but the Nexus 7's screen is good enough. I can distinguish pixels when I see dark text on a light background on the Nexus 7 if I look closely, but I can't see individual pixels otherwise.

However, 1024x600 on the same size display is definitely noticeable and looks pretty bad. If this would have been at least 1280x800 with slightly smaller bezels, that could have made this a serious competitor to the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire.

Not sure why anyone didn't mention it has an outdoor readable screen. Yes, a niche feature for a niche product-- but where else can you find that in a tablet?

It's too bad it falls short spec wise. I love the price, and I really like the red coloring. I wish more gadgets came in red. The HTC One looked great in red, but I doubt U.S. customers will ever see it.

I wish there were just more colors overall. I understand why there are not so many options, but jeez. I would kill for a high end phone that comes in green.

It's so strange you guys are harping on GPS, NFC, etc. I have never ever used GPS or NFC on my tab. So it doesn't matter. I need a good audio much more than I need a super ultra-crisp display. Much more than GPS and NFC. Between this and Nexus 7, I would opt for this. Also, the Nexus 7 has become horrendous now ever since the atrocious 4.2 upgrade (and yeah, even after 4.2.2 it ain't great).

Hell to the muthafuckincrackhead YES! @the 4.2.2 statement.
Had to quickly flash back to my 4.1.2 (best one imo) JellyTime rom after I tried out the new lockscreen,notification window, and app installation procedure. But luckily my rom includes the 4.2 keyboard&camera because those were the only good things :D

I know that everyone's perception of quality is different, but I truly don't understand all of the 4.2.2 hate. My Nexus 7 is still on 4.2.1 because I'm waiting for CM10.1 to get it, but my Nexus 4 runs absolutely flawlessly. I don't have a single complaint about it.

4.2.1 was pretty crappy but I've upgraded my Nexus 7 and my aging Galaxy Nexus to 4.2.2 and it was like I got my phone and tablet back! It was wonderful!

Ok Phil, I'm confused....aside from a row of pixels across the top, what does the Nexus 7 have that this doesn't, that makes it so inferior? Plus, it's only 169 bucks!

Are you sure you weren't expecting a higher end device at a higher end price, hence you think this is inferior? Just asking. ;)

I'm obviously not Phil, but the Nexus 7 has much more to offer than just an extra row of pixels. Here's a list of just the things I can think of off the top of my head:

200 more rows of pixels
256 more columns of pixels
a far superior processor
two to four times the storage space
a newer version of Android
more support
thinner and lighter

Someone with no knowledge of Android, processors, or numbers (read: the average person). If people did more research they would know better. But Android experts and semi-experts will know the difference.

Someone with no knowledge of Android, processors, or numbers (read: the average person). If people did more research they would know better. But Android experts and semi-experts will know the difference.

Edit: Duplicate. Could a mod delete please?

You missed the point, and Phil even mentioned it in the article....the average consumer will not differentiate. There's nothing missing that would push the average person to spend more money on a Nexus. The average person is not going to use GPS on a tablet. NFC is still a bit ahead of it's time. Most people don't even use it on their phone. The processor is sufficient to handle any task an average user is likely to ask of it.

It's definitely not for a power user, but for the average person who is going to use it as a reader, surf the internet and do email, it's a very inexpensive choice....and choice is good. They don't all have to be cutting edge.

I understand this. But paragon99 was asking what the difference between this and the Nexus 7 is, and I answered his/her question.

Yes you did. My bad....I probably should have worded my original question a little different. Sorry if I confused you.

This could very well cause massive convulsions over @ webOS Nation. After the absolute debacle of the Touchpad & webOS as a platform due to a bunch of factors, that group of folks (the few that remain that is) are highly upset & feeling deprived.

As a launch day TouchPad owner (got my rebate a month later to match firesale pricing and picked up a second one with money to spare), you won't catch me buying one. One's dualbooted to CM9, other is CM10. If I feel I need a 7" tablet, I'll spend the extra $30 for the Nexus.

As a long-time Palm and TocuhPad enthusiast, why should I get upset by this new addition to the HP family? So what, HP went ahead and dumped webOS, kicked us out of our home and now has brought forth some bastard spawn of Satan spewed out of its unholy tryst with a robot?! Who cares? Not me, brother! So HP will burn in hell, that's HP's choice, the filthy, two-timing, cheating lying liars!

I don't know if I would trust purchasing something from HP. How quickly will they move from this if it doesn't exceed their expectations? I give them credit for having the sd slot but really don't trust hp after what they did with Web OS. I would stick with a nexus 7 or amazon any day of slim shady hp.

Hey it comes with Android 4.1.1, so yeah, still better than the iPad mini ;-P

What's to say that Google don't drop the price of the 32GB Nexus 7 Wifi when they release a Nexus 7 ver.2; that would once again out price and spec anything else in it's category. Obviously this is just speculation but Google are Google so who knows :)

Give them credit for not skinning the hell out of this like so many other OEMs do. Stock Android is great, and if you don't like it, there are lots of custom launchers out there. Keeping it essentially stock will speed up (and reduce the cost of) OS updates.

While this isn't a device I would buy (Nexus only for me), I can see a big market for this. It's from a highly recognized (and American owned, don't underestimate the value there) manufacturer. It's very affordable. It's damn sexy looking. And correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like it has an SD card slot.

As for NFC and GPS, NFC is highly overrated. Some people will get a lot of use out of it, but I don't know anyone who has. GPS is pretty much everywhere, but do you really need GPS in a device that doesn't have a cellular radio? Not really. When you make a low cost device, you have to make sacrifices. These are two sacrifices that make a LOT of sense.

As a first foray into Android, I think this will be a winner... as long as they get it to market ASAP.

Give them credit? Ha! What a joke! They had a brilliant operating system with WebOS, but decided to kill it because they didn't feel the industry was moving that way. Now they are under new management and see that the industry is going that way, so what do they do? Stock android on a below average tablet. It's obviously a rush job just to get to market. I don't give them any credit for putting out this garbage when they could actually do some work and put out great device.

Not defending HP or anything so don't flame that candle but... I fail to see the brilliance of webOS & it's devout following of ever decreasing loyalists. As an operating system webOS failed in the marketplace, twice. Blame it on lack of money or lack of apps or bad management but facts are stubborn things. It failed & HP wasn't the sole reason.

webOS failed because Palm sucked at marketing (launched with 3rd largest carrier {Sprint} in US ONLY) and made crappy built plastcy hardware.. I went through THREE different refurbs due to speaker issues on me Palm Pre (palms top of the line phone). Since it took Palm 19 MONTHS to release its successor (Pre2), -during the time of ONE year contracts- I bought a Pixi, which was great, but it wasn't enough of a "halo" device to get many people's attention. Palm didn't have the resources to compete with Apple/Google and encourage faith in their product or development for webOS apps by larger companies.

HP just put it further into the ground with half-ass (quarter-ass?) support. I LOVED webOS. I would still use it today if it was on modern quality hardware and if they had backers for application. webOS didn't fail because it was a bad OS. It failed because of bad business practices.

amen good sir, amen. I absolutely love webOS but the touchpad will probably be my only device with webOS. Everything else I have is Android and I think the customization options are fantastic, but webOS does everything I want and it does it perfectly. The organization is exactly what I want to see every time I turn it on. I just hope I can dual boot it on my phones some day.

There were a lot of things I loved about WebOS. I stuck with my Palm Pre for over a year, but the build quality was poor, the marketing was awful, the hardware was out of date by the time it got to market and every WebOS lover will forever be haunted by the term "In the coming months." Part of that was HP's fault, but not all of it. By the time HP bought the environment, it was dead for all intents and purposes.

The highlight of WebOS was an intuitive UI, something that Android has done a great job of gaining ground on since then. HP didn't kill or destroy WebOS, it was already dead, HP just wasn't able to resurrect it.

This isn't "Stock android on a below average tablet", it's stock Android on an entry level tablet. As much as it gets compared to the Nexus 7 (which I own and love) people forget that the N7 is being subsidized by Google to push into as many hands as possible for content consumption. HP isn't getting a subsidy on this. For some people, the difference in price between the Slate 7 and the nexus 7 is very real money and if you don't care about NFC (and who would) or GPS on a non-cellular device, but you do care about having expandable storage, then this is a great, affordable device.

It seems like people keep forgetting the difference between Apple and Android. Apple give you a single device and expects everyone to use it. To Apple, that device is The Answer. With Android, there are dozens of devices so that we can all pick the device that works best for us. The Slate 7 is a device that will work very well for many people.

A better sacrifice would have been taking out the back camera. 99% of people who take pictures with cameras are people without smartphones. Meanwhile, there are lots of people who use their tablets as navigation systems but don't have a need for data on the go and thus buy a Wi-Fi only version.

But I have to agree on giving them credit for not skinning the OS.

Some people want cameras on their tablets, regardless of whether they have a smartphone in their pocket or how stupid they look holding up a tablet for a picture.

Wish they would have not made a back camera and upped the resolution on this thing. Back camera's are really unnecessary unless you want to switch cameras when video chatting. I'm not to worried about dual core as long as its smooth. Sadly I hate hp due to their ridiculous decision of webos. They had the money to improve it but they decided to just scrap it. Huge waste of what could have been a great OS. Just hope people that buy this don't have any issues, which most HP products I have bought have had plenty of.

I think this review is off the mark instead of trying to review this device as a high end how about reviewing it with the right perspective. It's obviously a low end device the low res and price say as much. This would be a device that i would consider for my kids or wife who aren't technology junkies they just want a device that performs regular tasks.
What I'd like you to talk to is the build quality and the browsing performance.

I just can't see anyone wanting to give up GPS, NFC, screen res, half the storage, half the CPU/GPU, and Nexus-like updates for a savings of just $30.

That would be, like, the best $30 ever spent.

Why would a consumer pay $30 more for a device with stuff they don't care about?

NFC: How often do you use NFC? I don't know anyone who ever has, except to show their device has it. I'd give it up for $1 of savings.
GPS: If you don't have data, how useful is GPS?
Storage: Here you're pretty much just wrong. It has expandable storage. So you're giving up built in storage, but gaining a TON of expandable storage. A LOT people want that. This is a definite WIN on the part fo the Slate 7.
Screen Res/CPU: Not everyone cares about this stuff. They just want to browse the web and play some games.
Updates: We don't know how quickly this device will get updates. Given that it's running stock android, I would bet it will be a lot faster than most OEMs. Again, the average user doesn't care about updates though.

Not every device is a power device aimed at technogeeks. Most users don't care beyond browsing the web, playing some games and storing music, movies and photos. This device looks like it will do that well at a great price point.

hell it cost more than 30 bucks just to update a gps map set, much less a full hardware update across the board. Rip that red off and slap it on the back of the N7

4.1.1?? Wasn't that the version with broken EAS in the e-mail client, making it crippled for business use? HP's kidding, right? 4.1.2 came out MONTHS ago.

I wouldn't give this turd to my middle school child.

I have a hard time believing that when placed side by side with a Nexus 7 or even a Samsung tablet that any customer facing person would recommend it unless they were being given a SPIF for selling it. Most sales reps/customer service reps don't want anything to do with a device that could be returned or a company that has a history of erratic behavior with their product categories. Financial implications being equal I imagine that this thing will be buried at PoS for the more stable alternatives.

what cameras does it have? strictly competing on price i guess or for rest of world markets. In fact not having GPS makes me think they just stuck their name on a no name chinese brand.

I have a single-core 800x480 LG ICS phone, so I can't really complain about the specs. Considering that EVERY damn Nexus device is twice its US price here in Denmark, the HP S7 is pretty much a steal. I'm actually kinda sad I didn't get the Acer 7" because it's 1/2 of a Nexus 7, yet it does everything I need from a tablet.

As much as most people are complaining and dogging on it, the price will make the difference... A person like my mother, who has NO tech knowledge and only checks emails and FaceBook, would love to get this as a gift... My 4 year old son would love to have this as a new toy, although I think his Nabi Tablet might have this beat...

I'm just saying, I think it could do really well... Just based on price...

The lack of a microSD slot on the Nexus 7 is a non-starter for me. I need to be able to load up movies for kids on road trips. The HP Slate 7 looks like has good build quality, is cheap, and has a microSD card slot. It will work great for checking email browsing the web and playing angry birds.

I'll probably pick one up.