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When the HP Slate was first released, everyone assumed it would be a rival to Apple’s iPad, but HP were targeting an altogether different market. Where the iPad appealed directly to consumers and offered unrivalled touch screen responsiveness plus a lot of fun and games; the HP Slate was a far more sober and practical affair. This is essentially a business tablet and as such delivers a good , if pricey, solution to many of the features lacking in an iPad. Its successor is HP Slate 2, an 8.9″ Windows 7 tablet with 64GB SSD storage space.
HP chose a Windows platform for their tablet, and so this was another Windows versus Apple technology battle. Running on Windows 7 Professional with an Intel Atom processor and 2 gigabytes of hard drive, the HP Slate is a powerful tablet. It has 64 GB of RAM, a 1.86 gigahertz processor and two USB ports for added connectivity. As it is Windows you can run any browser you like, unlike the iPad that restricts you to Safari. There are two cameras and a webcam port on the HP Slate but it is less responsive than an iPad. The Slate comes with a docking station that continually charges the unit and adds two more USB 2.0 ports when in use, plus an HDMI output and a second headphone / microphone jack. It has an 8.9 inch screen with a resolution of 1024 x 600 and works in both portrait and landscape mode although the screen goes blank when you switch modes which is a little disconcerting!
The HP Slate is slightly lighter and narrower than an iPad but less sleek and being smaller all the functions are just slightly smaller too, including the keyboard. HP has got round this by including a stylus which is very effective and has good handwriting recognition, virtually in real time. If you install the right apps you can get an experience similar to the iPad of pinching, shrinking and enlarging items on the screen for improved readability. Business users will be happy with the full Microsoft Office suite and certainly the management of documents on the HP Slate is more efficient than on an iPad.
What customers say
Business users love this tablet. They report a solid five hours battery life and enjoy the added functionality of being able to attach their plug and play devices, printers etc. For many the HP Slate has become a portable Pc without having to install fiddly work around applications as is needed with other tablets. The main benefit is the Windows operating system and many hope that the upgrades will make the Slate compatible with Windows 8. The browser spped and wireless connectivity are all reported as being more than adequate and the power of the Slate allows multi applications to be open at once. A bonus is the ability to play Blu ray movies, although most see this tablet as a work machine rather than an entertainment center.
The HP Slate is not a competitor to the iPad, it is a different beast. Aimed primarily at the business user and Windows operating system fan, it is priced similarly to the iPad but offers a very different experience.