Thursday, 4 August 2011

HP Slate 500 - Why You Should Or Shouldn't Buy It.

It seems like everywhere you go, you see people in malls, airports and even on public transportation happily tapping away on their new tablet devices. Many people know about the Apple iPad/iPad 2, Blackberry Playbook, and other various Google Android OS Based tablets, lets not forget about Windows 7 powered tablets. More and more vendors are now starting to introduce Windows 7 tablets for consumers who want portability without sacrificing access to their most important applications which may not be available on these new tablet operating systems. Today I will be reviewing one of these new Windows 7 Tablets, the HP Slate 500.

Lets start off with what you get. The HP Slate device itself is an Intel Atom based tablet featuring the z540 Processor clocked at 1.86Ghz, 512KB L2 Cache, & 533Mhz FSB. The Slate comes standard with 2GB of DDR2 SDRAM (Not upgradeable), and 64GB of Storage. The slate also features built in Wireless a/b/g/n functionality, however no 3G Data Support. On the front of the device, you have the integrated VGA Webcam for video conferencing, the crisp 8.9" WSVGA Screen and Active Capacitive Digitizer. The back plate of the device is a bit rigid, giving you better grip than what you would expect from devices like the iPad 2, with also an integrated 3MP camera that can be used for video conferencing, or taking photos/videos. Around the bezel we find buttons that allow you to control the volume (no mute button), a button to allow you to display and hide the on-screen keyboard, 1 USB 2.0 Port, a Control+Alt+Delte button, a Home Button which takes you to the Windows Desktop, the power/sleep switch, and a Headphone jack. Along the bottom of the bezel, you can find the port for the Optional docking station (included in some configurations).

The optional docking station will allow you to charge the slate, and also gives you 2 additional USB ports, HDMI out, and headphone jack. The angle of this device has been designed almost perfectly for using on a table.In the box you also receive a folio case (No built in stand), the power cable (not standard USB), and a handly little stylus that can be used for drawing and tapping on the touch screen.

The Slate goes in a sleep mode when you turn it off unless you do a complete shut down. Booting from a complete shutdown took roughly 35 seconds. Not too shabby compared to other devices. But keep in mind this is a fresh install with no installed applications. We all know what happens to Windows after a month. Pre-loaded on the Slate 500 is Windows 7 Professional 32-Bit. As much of a fan I am of Windows 7, it is not really the most ergonomic operating system for touch based tablets when compared to iOS and Adroid. Apart from that, there isn't really anything else that comes installed on this device. At this point, start going crazy and install your applications. You will need a USB CD/DVD Drive if you are planning on installing software from a CD/DVD. Since we are running Windows 7 here, don't forget to install a light weight Anti-Virus/Anti-Spyware tool as well.

Our business applications on the Slate performed fairly well. Browsing the Internet was fast, however when zooming in and out on websites using the pinch gestures seemed a bit choppy compared to other tablets.

After reading all this, you're probably now wondering if I would reccomend this product. Well, after scratching my head a bit I would have to say maybe depending on your needs. The HP Slate is packed with a wealth of bells and whistles for a device this small, but it really is limited by what it's missing. For mobile business users who this device is actually targeted for, Windows 7 on an ultra portable tablet screams "Work On The Go From Anywhere". However, without 3G capability you're limited to use this in Wi-Fi areas, with a USB data device, or tether the tablet via bluetooth to your smartphone. Hopefully this issue will be addressed in the next generation of the device. For casual web surfers, Windows 7 just too akward to use on a tablet without using an external mouse or stylus. Not to mention there also is no slot on the device where you can keep the stylus handy, although there is a spot for the pen in the folio case. At the end of the day, this really is a niche market device. Android and iPad tablets are doing so well because they've captured the home users as well as a portion of the business market and have tailored the device around these users. If HP adds 3G Data capabilities, and possibly kick up the processor to a Dual Core CPU I can definately see this as the ultimate swiss army knife for mobile business users.

HP is offering a demo program for this product. I would encourage all Business IT Geeks to get in contact with your HP Rep and get your demo unit!