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Last Updated on March 29, 2020
For better or worse, HP tablets have come to represent the good-not-great, budget-minded design philosophy that pervades much of the 8-inch tablet market. They’re affordable and inoffensive, but they certainly won’t knock your socks off.
With the Slate 8 Pro, however, HP has taken a big – if not entirely effective – stride toward changing that perception.
In contrast to some of HP’s previous efforts, the HP Slate 8 Pro is a stylish and sexy device. The 8.66-by-5.57-by-0.39 inch slate is actually quite beefy compared to tablets like the Samsung Galaxy TabPro 8.4 or LG G Pad 8.3, but the classy matte white finish and flowing lines make for an unexpectedly pleasing aesthetic.
The upside to that added heft is excellent construction quality, as the Slate 8 Pro is impressively sturdy and flex-resistant.
In comparing tablets with previous HP models, the Slate 8 Pro’s layout is a bit different. The power button has moved to the top side, where it’s virtually flush with the edge and a little bit tricky to find.
The recessed volume rocker is on the back side of the tapered right edge, while a covered microSD card reader is in the same position on the left edge. The micro-HDMI and micro-USB ports, 3.5-millimeter headphone jack and stereo speakers are all packed in along the bottom edge.
The speaker grilles are colored red in keeping with the Beats Audio branding, and it’s a really nice, subtle touch.
Resolving the Details
In the past, HP tablets have garnered a well-deserved reputation for subpar displays. That’s still something of a problem here, but not in the way you might expect. The quality of the Slate 8 Pro’s 1,600-by-1,200 pixel display is actually quite good, offering excellent brightness and contrast levels, vivid and accurate colors and superb viewing angles.
The 4:3 aspect ratio is also an intriguing touch compared to tablets with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Where the Slate 8 falters is in the wonky touchscreen response. Rapid input from typing or other activities causes false signals in other areas of the display, which can lead to errant keystrokes and other issues that really mar an otherwise solid experience.
Under the Hood
With a 1.8-gigahertz Nvidia Tegra 4 chip and powerful GeForce Tegra 4 graphics processor, the HP Slate 8 Pro packs a powerful punch. Even power-hungry apps run smoothly and responsively, and gaming performance is very solid.
However, with just one gigabyte of RAM, the Slate 8 Pro struggles more than it should with switching between tasks, booting up and waking from sleep mode. It’s not a huge issue, but it is noticeably slower than devices with two gigabytes in a tablet comparison.
While the Slate 8 Pro’s display is certainly an upgrade over previous HP models, it’s a bit unremarkable compared to tablets like the LG G Pad 8.3 and Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4. The G Pad sports a very sharp 1,920-by-1,200 panel, while the TabPro features a gorgeous 2,560-by-1,600 display that’s one of the best screens to be found in an 8-inch form factor.
Both tablets are considerably thinner and lighter than the Slate 8 Pro, though it’s hard to argue with the Slate’s rock-solid build quality. Performance is relatively even across the three devices, though the Slate 8 Pro’s meager RAM represents a bit of a bottleneck that isn’t present in the offerings from LG and Samsung.