Not the heir, but a spare – the HP Slate 7 tablet reviewed

Tablet PC’s have been the big story in tech for the past few years, but only one in ten of us Kiwis actually own one.  While Samsung, Microsoft, Asus and others have delivered capable devices to try and grab a share of the market, Apple’s iPad is the undisputed King of the Tablets in this country.

But not all devices aspire to the throne.  Appealing to the bottom end, HP has released the Slate 7, a small Android tablet with a nifty $229 price tag.

While the price and the brand name make you sit up and take notice, a number of compromises have been made to get the unit out the door at that price.

You might be wondering just who this low priced tablet is aimed at?  My guess is that this device will be bought by parents who already have an iPad, a Surface or a Galaxy Tab, but they don’t like the kids playing with it.  Just think of all those grubby fingers and potential “drop-it-in-the-fish-tank” scenarios!

The Slate 7 is a cheap, robust unit that could quite happily keep kids entertained, all the way up to intermediate school level.  Beyond that, high school and university students will probably be looking for a machine that allows them to create content, not just consume it.  Even then, the HP tablet could capably act as a spare tablet when they just want to chill out and listen to music or view a movie.

What’s good about it?

  • The Slate 7 is an affordable Android Jelly Bean consumer tablet that provides easy access to a range of Google Mobile services such as Google Now, Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive and Google+ Hangouts.
  • The 7-inch diagonal screen is bound by a stainless-steel frame and either a grey or red soft touch cover on the back. It feels comfortable and sturdy, if not quite rugged.
  • It is the industry’s first tablet to offer embedded Beats Audio technology which plays nice with Beats Audio headphones or ear buds (though you will be hard pressed to notice a difference with non-Beats earphones).
  • Son of Gadget Guy declared it to be “really good for games” having downloaded a few of his favourite titles from the Google Play store.

And here’s what you don’t get for a $229 price tag.

  • A high definition screen – the Slate 7 screen is an unusual ‘envelope” format 1024 by 600 pixels LCD with only 170 dpi.
  • Much storage – it comes with a meagre 8GB of on board storage, but happily, it does have a micro SD slot allowing you to add up to 32GB.
  • A high resolution camera – the rear facing camera is only 3mp and the front facing camera is VGA.  However it does at least have that rear facing camera (unlike the pricier but very well regarded Nexus 7).
  • Options beyond wifi – there’s no option to switch to 3G when you are out and about I’m afraid.

Pricing: The HP Slate7 has a starting price of NZD$229.

Summary: The HP Slates 7 is a nuts and bolts Android tablet with a bargain basement purchase price.