HP Slate 7 Tablets Review

After a series of misfires, HP finally struck on a moderately successful recipe in the form of the HP Slate 7. Though it wasn’t particularly innovative, it was clearly a step in the right direction for HP tablets.

Now, the world’s largest computer manufacturer has come back with a glut of new Android devices. Among these are three new tablets in the seven-inch form factor.

HP Slate 7 Plus

The HP Slate 7 Plus is the natural successor to the original Slate 7, and the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean-powered tablet features a handful of improvements. Its dimensions are trimmed down slightly from the previous iteration, measuring in at 0.14 inches shorter and 0.7 pounds lighter.

As with the original, the Slate 7’s 0.42-inch thickness feels a bit unwieldy compared to tablets with a thinner profile. The plastic case is reasonably comfortable to hold, but it lacks the sturdy construction of the original Slate and it’s considerably more prone to flexing.

The display sees a much-needed upgrade with the Slate 7 Plus, bumping up to 1,280-by-800 pixels from the original 1,024-by-600 panel. The screen produces good contrast and excellent brightness, but color reproduction is less than ideal.

Being an IPS panel, viewing angles are typically excellent. Driven by a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, the Slate 7 Plus improves considerably upon the shoddy performance of the dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 chip used in its predecessor. The Slate’s battery life has been improved as well, thanks in part to a new 4,000 milliamp-hour lithium polymer battery.

HP Slate 7 Extreme

Building on Nvidia’s blank-slate Tegra Note 7, the Slate 7 Extreme is HP’s solution for delivering productivity and multimedia capability in a portable package. Though it shares its name, and unfortunately a similarly questionable build quality, the Extreme offers some key advancements over the Slate 7 Plus in a tablet comparison.

First and foremost is the inclusion of a stylus, which is stowed away on the bottom right edge of the tablet. The lack of an active digitizer is a bit disappointing, but the stylus functions well and the screen responds quickly and accurately to most inputs. HP’s excellent palm rejection technology is another great inclusion.

The Extreme’s 1,280-by-800 IPS panel is quite similar to that found in the Slate 7 Plus, and it’s pleasing to the eye despite the average resolution. In addition to the excellent stylus response, the Slate 7 Extreme’s screen also handles touch gestures exceedingly well.

Aside from the stylus, one of HP’s more noteworthy inclusions is a beefy quad-core Tegra 4 processor. Clocked at 1.8-gigahertz, the Tegra 4 delivers smooth, powerful performance in comparison to tablets powered by the older Tegra 3. The Extreme is also the only Slate 7 device to feature an HDMI-out option.

HP Slate 7 HD

It seems a bit strange that many tablets, despite being built around the defining principle of portability, require users to be within range of a wireless hotspot in order to access the internet. HP’s solution is to create a true on-the-go tablet by featuring full 4G connectivity with its Slate 7 HD, including two years of free service courtesy of T-Mobile.

The contract is somewhat limited, however, offering just 200 megabytes of 4G data per month. There are also significant gaps in coverage in more rural areas, so the connectivity appeals primarily to city-dwellers.

The 4G connectivity is clearly the most significant difference between devices, but it’s not the only one. The HD is also somewhat narrower, thinner and lighter than the Slate 7 Plus, though it again suffers from less-than-ideal construction quality.

Under the hood, the Slate 7 HD is powered by a dual-core 1.2-gigahertz Marvell PXA986 chip, which delivers solid performance. The HP Slate 7 HD 4G also features integrated Beats Audio technology. The 1,280-by-800 display and 4,000 mAh battery are the same as the Slate 7 Plus, though the average battery life is slightly reduced.