HP Offers A Slate/Tablet Option That Doesn’t Begin With the Letter “i”


Image courtesy of laptopmag

If you follow any kind a social networking than you probably heard already of the announcement of HP’s new slate. They have been teasing us with video snippets over the past few months after a quick preview at the Microsoft CES keynote. Engadget mysteriously happened to get their hands on some HP company documents just in time to take some of the fire out of Apple’s new iPad. Unfortunately, the specs would say otherwise. The slate looks like they took the internals out of an HP netbook and put them all back together in a sleeker tablet/slate package. This looks to be a competitor to the “other” tablets recently announced, but I’m not seeing enough to dethrone the iPad as the leading slate on the market.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AeDalRBjyJo

The new slate does have some qualifying features that puts some iPad specs to shame, but is it enough to entice buyers to choose one other another? Lets take a look at the (leaked) specs:

  • Intel Z530 – 1.6Ghz Atom CPU – 533Mhz FSB – 512MB L2 cache (released Q2, 2008)
  • 1GB Ram
  • 32/64GB SSD, upgradeable by SD slot
  • 1024 X 600 8.9″ MT touchscreen
  • 802.11B/G Wifi, Optional 3G broadband, WWAN, Bluetooth, GPS
  • 1 USB, HDMI, dock connector, headphone/mic jacks
  • Windows 7 Home Premium, touch optimised
  • Front and Rear camera
  • Pen/Stylus support, Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer

Ok, so the specs aren’t bad compared to the iPad on paper, but let’s face it — they aren’t blowing anything out of the water. The performance may prove to make hard specs not completely essential, but why such “legacy” hardware in a new device? First thoughts on what I see take this off the essential “must have” list. As a non-iPad adopter myself, I had much bigger hopes for the hardware packed inside this device.

The CPU is 2 years old, the WiFi is limited to B/G, and the battery life is only rated at 5 hours. These things I find to be annoying, and I question the choices on CPU/chipset on a HD output device. The GMA 500 specs do say that directX 9.0, MPEG-2 Hardware, and Shader model 3.0 are supported along with a max of 256MB RAM behind it all. I hope the chipset will have been refreshed when the unit gets released. Who knows, maybe the hardware never had a chance to be optimized with the current software until now. Specs claim 1080P output, and as Engadget stated they are assuming a Broadcom Accelerator will pickup the HD duties. We’ll have to wait and see, the GMA 500 that paired with the Z530 is certainly not up to the task of full 1080P output.

The biggest deal breaker for me is the screen resolution. Some will argue that anything larger than 1024 X 600 is just too small for a screen that size, but I can tell you that I would welcome a larger resolution than what comes with some of the newer, currently available netbooks. I am used to using my netbook for surfing the web and watching media, but I would love to not have to scroll so much on web pages and office apps. I see this as a big problem affecting students and business types looking for a slate device other than the iPad. HP has used HD screens before on the 2140 netbook and some of the newer 10″ 210 netbook options, so this resolution is already native to the company. This is another option that I hope is changed prior to release.

Now for the good: Price, storage, and cameras all around. The price point is right on target at $549 for the 32GB model and $599 for the 64GB model. The price gives the HP a slight advantage over the iPad, especially if the 3G option is integrated into that price. Plus with an SD slot capable of another 128GB, this will allow you store tons more movies, pictures, and music on the device. The front and rear cameras are also a big plus. Most iPad gripes I heard leading up to launch day was the lack of cameras. I don’t use video chatting that often, but I certainly like to have that option. The size is pretty similar to the iPad; the slate is just a hair thicker than the iPad, but comes in feather under the weight.

The biggest plus for me is that it runs Windows 7 Home Premium, which means full support for most Windows software and full compatibility with almost any USB device. As seen in some of the earlier HP videos, the slate will fully support Adobe Flash, Silverlight, and any browser you choose.  There is no dealing with apps, a marketplace, or proprietary software. You have full reign over the operating system and can customize it to your likings like any other PC or netbook. I like the option of being able to connect anything USB to the slate also; not that I wouldn’t use it most for couch surfing and when I’m mobile, but I have to option of plugging in a printer to print out schoolwork or documents.

Thats my take on HP’s new slate in a nutshell. A full featured netbook (with aging internals), in a thin slate/tablet form. I’m counting on more “leaks” and release info soon.

More Youtube videos on the HP Slate.

via Engadget