I just bought an HP Slate and I'm happy about it

Summary:The HP Slate is HP's answer to the Post PC tablet device trend and it's a good one. My HP Slate is as cool as an iPad mini at half the cost.

I just bought an HP Slate and I'm HaPpy about it

Yes, I have a full-size iPad 4 but I decided to jump on an HP Slate when I saw it on Amazon for $159*. My wife loves her iPad mini. My daughter loves her iPad mini. Once I used my wife's iPad mini for a few hours and I changed my mind about the diminuitive device. It's small and portable and awesome. I was jealous. I had tablet envy. I was now on a quest to acquire my very own small tablet computer.

I didn't want to spend another $350 or more on a small tablet, so I searched for an Android-based one. If you recall from a previous post, I wanted an Android tablet before I ever got my first iPad. But, at the time, my Android choices just didn't measure up, so I opted for the iPad.

All that has changed.

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There are a lot of good Android choices now: The Samsung, the Lenovo, the Dell, but the HP Slate was the best deal for me. For $159 (Amazon Prime Price), I was buying the best available product for the money. 

My HP Slate is the Slate 7 Plus with the following specs:

  • Android - Jelly Bean 4.2.2
  • Kernel - 3.1.10-g26301e2
  • CPU - NVIDIA Tegra 3
  • Screen - 7-inch diagonal WVA HD multitouch-enabled screen (1280 x 800)
  • Memory - 1 GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Storage - 8 GB eMMC

What's not to love with those specs?

Sure, I checked out tablets ranging from $59 up to $359 but the Slate has everything I want, including HP quality at a price that I really liked. And, yes, I do work for HP but my employer had nothing to do with my choice of tablet. I selected the tablet that had the right price and specifications for me. I'm sorry if that puts you off but it's true. I made the choice on getting the most bang for the buck—not based on who signs my paycheck.

One of the very cool, and unexpected things, about having an Android tablet is that as soon as I logged into my Google account, all the apps that I'd installed to my Android-based phone appeared on my tablet. That's a bonus. It's especially a bonus since I've recently abandoned my Android-based phone in favor of a Windows-based one**.

I didn't have many personal apps on my Android phone because I didn't own it but I had three or four that I wanted to keep. Sure, I could have downloaded them again, if I'd remembered what they were—but I didn't have to remember or even fret over them because there they were waiting for me like old friends.

The Slate 7 Plus is responsive and nimble. It feels good in my hands. It's very light and has good balance. I really like that I've never had to tap twice to get my app of choice to launch. There are other tablets that I've tried that seem to have problems with that. And not just Android ones. I've had a bit of trouble launching apps on the iPad.

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The screen is bright and clear. The graphics are excellent and very sharp.

The Slate 7 Plus has very good sound too. Even cranked all the way up, music and voice both sound perfect on it. The cameras are good and well placed for ease of use. I really like the auto focus and manual focus features. The 'face finder' feature is excellent and fast. The quality is 5MP for the rear-facing camera with 720p video. Not fantastic but pretty good.

It has a micro SD slot (expandable up to 32GB) and a standard 3.5mm earbud port. The charger is an industry standard USB type. The USB/mini USB interface doubles as a USB interface for other devices as well as your charger interface.

Unlike most tech gadgetry that I buy, I haven't had any buyer's remorse. I genuinely like the Slate 7 Plus.

If I were to pick out any flaws with my HP Slate 7 Plus it would be that the charger plugs in at the top of the device and not at the bottom where I would expect the charger interface to be. That's a pretty minor complaint but it does feel awkward in my hands when I use it while it's plugged in. Perhaps it's not meant to be used while plugged in. With up to 7.5 hours of battery life, maybe it isn't usually necessary to do it. My bad.

While this isn't a formal product review, it is a product spotlight. If you're in the market for an Android tablet, I suggest that you check out the HP Slate 7 Plus before you decide. At $159, you can buy a lot of accessories, hundreds of hours of music, a few movies, a nice case, and have money left over for dinner compared to that of the iPad mini.

As a side note, I even like the name "Slate" for a tablet computer. It gives me the impression that I'm going to use it for writing (and can because it features Bluetooth for a keyboard for example) and it gives me the feeling that there's no limit to what I can do with it, as in it being a blank slate, kind of like a blank canvas. Slate is a well thought out name. I like it. Yes, I know it's just a name but still. There's nothing embarrassing about saying, "Just a sec, let me grab my Slate". It sounds more masculine than saying, "Hang on, while I grab my iPad". Yeesh. That's even hard to write. 

In a few weeks, I'll let you know what kind of success I have with the Slate 7 Plus. Right now, I'm Happy, but you never know how I'll be when the wind changes. Stay tuned.

*I should have looked at HP's consumer products site first. The Slate 7 Plus sells for $149 with free standard shipping. Live and learn. I'm sure I also could have gotten an employee discount but didn't. I am not a smart shopper.

**Corporate phone. My personal phone is still the iPhone 5. Just an FYI so that you don't get confused.

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Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Hardware, Tablets

About

Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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