5:53 am - Saturday November 1, 2014

HP Slate 7 review

HP Slate 7 review

HP has taken a while to launch an Android tablet, but has finally released one in the form of the Slate 7. Rather than try to compete with Apple’s iPad, HP has instead focused on the entry-level 7in market with a budget deHP Slate 7 reviewvice designed to take on tablets such as the Google Nexus 7.

HP Slate 7 Online Reviews

The Slate 7 has a minimal appearance, thanks to a smooth, soft-touch plastic back that provides plenty of grip. The aluminium edging and machined buttons add a touch of class, making it feel like a more expensive device. It has volume keys on the right-hand side and a power button at the top, alongside a 3.5mm audio jack and a MicroSD card slot. It supports MicroSD cards up to 32GB in size, which means you can increase its meagre 8GB storage capacity. It also has a Micro USB charging port, which is at the bottom of the device, sandwiched between the speaker grilles.

The Slate 7’s 7in, 1,024×600-resolution display is a basic screen, so the Slate 7 isn’t going to win any awards for image quality, but it’s still perfectly functional. The panel uses fringe field switching (FFS) technology, which helps create better viewing angles than on TN devices. It has a grainy appearance and isn’t particularly bright, though, even at its highest setting. It attracts fingerprints very easily too, which makes it even harder to see the screen in bright sunlight. Still images and videos look reasonably sharp and colours are fairly vibrant. However, there’s nothing that stands out above the competition.

The stereo speakers managed to produce reasonably loud audio with a warm mid-range, but the high-end is tinny and there’s no real bass.

Powered by a dual-core ARM A9 processor running at 1.6GHz and 1GB of RAM, the Slate 7 is a reasonably powerful budget tablet. We noticed some slight hitching when flicking through multiple Home screens filled with widgets, though, and had to wait for thumbnails to load when opening the gallery, but apps loaded reasonably quickly. It was slower than the Nexus 7 in the SunSpider Javascript benchmark, but outperformed it in certain 3D applications such as 3DMark.

The Slate 7 is pretty energy efficient, and it lasted eight hours and 56 minutes in our battery test. That puts it behind the Nexus 7’s battery life of 10 hours and 20 minutes, but it’s still among the best score for budget 7in tablets.

Latest Online HP Slate 7 Reviews

As it runs a barely tweaked version of Android 4.1, the Slate 7 feels very similar to a Nexus 7 once you start using it. It has HP’s ePrint app preinstalled, which is great if you have a compatible HP wireless printer, but is fairly useless for everyone else. Thankfully it’s possible to uninstall it, so that it doesn’t occupy storage space that would be better devoted to something else.

The main addition is Beats Audio, a non-configurable music equalizer that adjusts the headphone output based on what pair of Beats headphones you happen to be wearing. It works with any pair of in- or over-ear headphones, but simply boosts bass and treble rather than give you control over individual EQ settings. With it disabled, music sounded tinny and weak, but even the passive option increased the bass far too much for our tastes. It has no effect on the integrated speakers.

The 3-megapixel rear camera is able to take fairly basic photos. Unless you’re framing your subject exactly, you can’t guarantee focus or exposure because the lack of touch-to-focus in the default Camera app stops you from choosing the metering point manually. Sadly, the Slate 7’s camera over-exposes photos, there’s a lack of detail and colours are muted. It’s a useful inclusion, but is no replacement for a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera. There’s also a front-facing webcam, which is only really useful for low-resolution Skype video chats.

HP Slate 7 Features

HP’s first Android tablet is a basic, no-frills device. Features such as Beats audio aren’t enough to make us recommend it over the Nexus 7, which runs a newer version of Android, has a faster processor and will receive software updates sooner. The Nexus 7 also has a higher resolution display. However, its one saving grace is its price. It’s cheaper than a Nexus 7, though, and its MicroSD slot lets you increase its storage capacity to 40GB. If you have a large number of music and video files, and want a budget tablet that on which to play them, the Slate 7 could be for you.

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