When most people think of PC manufacturer HP and "tablets," they probably think of a Windows 8 device. Either that, or the ill-fated TouchPad, an iPad-sized webOS gadget which sold so poorly that HP had to dump them all in a $99 fire sale just a few months in.
If you decided to wait for the price of its latest tablet to go down to $99, though, you wouldn't be saving that much. That's because HP is undercutting Google's $199 Nexus 7 with its own $169 "Slate 7" tablet.Like the Nexus 7, it runs Google's open-source Android operating system; and for the price, you get slightly lower specs, including just 8 GB of storage.
Why a 7-inch Android tablet?
While it didn't exactly help stave off the Kindle, Barnes and Noble's 7-inch Nook Color e-reader was extremely popular for awhile, as a cheap color tablet which could be easily modified to run normal Android. Then last year's Nexus 7 tablet from Google sold millions.
That wasn't nearly as many as Apple's iPad sold in the same time, but pretty soon even Apple had gotten in on the act with its iPad Mini tablet. And with tablets cutting into traditional PC sales, it was perhaps inevitable that someone at HP would try to make something like this.
What do you get for the money?
A 7-inch tablet "with stainless steel accents and a soft-touch back," which comes in red and silver (although the availability of different colors "may vary by region"). It has a dual-core 1.6 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and a microSD slot for expandable memory. The 7-inch screen has a 1024x600 resolution, and it has a VGA webcam and a 3 megapixel rear-facing shooter. It also has Beats Audio technology built in.
How does it compare to other small tablets?
Compared to the Nexus 7, you lose out on the powerful Tegra 3 processor, which is capable of running "Tegra HD exclusive" games. The Slate 7 also runs a slightly less recent version of "Jelly Bean" Android, has half the storage space (of the $199 Nexus 7 model), and has a much fuzzier screen and webcam. The Nexus 7 also has a $299 32 GB version with HSPA+ wireless Internet, although it lacks the microSD slot and rear-facing camera.
Compared to the iPad Mini, you'll mostly be missing Apple's sleek industrial design and high-performance processor, plus the hundreds of thousands of iPad-exclusive games and apps. Of course, it also costs about twice as much.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.
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