HP Slate 7 review
HP has crafted a solid, attractive tablet for a superb price, but the Slate 7 simply cuts too many corners to earn a recommendation
HP may have been late to the compact tablet party, but its Slate 7 has the likes of the Nexus 7 and the Asus Fonepad firmly in its sights. Someone has obviously been taking notes, too, as the Slate 7 attempts to get one up on the competition by cramming in both front- and rear-facing cameras, a microSD slot and HP's proprietary Beats Audio for only £130.
Physically, the Slate 7 looks and feels like a premium piece of kit. At 370g, it's marginally heavier than some of its rivals, but despite a little flex in the silvery plastic rear, the solid, sturdy chassis feels built to last. And although it might look a little chunkier than the Asus and Nexus tablets, it's just a trick of the light – the HP Slate 7 is the same thickness as the Nexus 7, with only a few extra grams and thicker, flattened edges to differentiate it.
The Slate 7 doesn't look or feel like a budget device, then, but its display gives the game away. The 600 x 1,024 resolution screen is far less crisp than those of rival devices, and it feels narrow and cramped.
Brightness is adequate, with the panel reaching a maximum of 369cd/m[sup]2[/sup], but the poor black level results in a distinctly washed-out appearance. Colour reproduction is subdued, and an ever-present graininess leaves images and blocks of colour looking dirty and mottled.
With a 1.6GHz dual-core ARM A9 processor and 1GB of RAM under the hood, we were hoping performance would buoy the HP's appeal. However, the Slate 7 proved disappointing even in everyday use. Whether we were flicking between homescreens or scrolling and zooming into web pages, the HP was noticeably juddery – it's a far cry from the silky smooth feel of Asus' Fonepad, and not what we've come to expect in recent times, even from budget tablets.
The Slate put in a mixed performance in our suite of benchmarks. Despite a decent score of 656 in the HTML5 Peacekeeper benchmark, the A9 processor dropped right back in the Geekbench test, finishing with a modest 1,008. The Slate 7 struggled in the GFXBench test, too, scoring an underwhelming average of 4.9fps. Given the 600 x 1,024 screen, we'd have expected better.
Battery life is below par, too. Despite the chunky feel of the chassis, the Slate 7's 3,500mAh battery is small and lasted only 6hrs 37mins in our video rundown test.
HP has had to perform something of a juggling act to squeeze in so many features for the money. The Slate 7 has only 8GB of onboard storage, although it compensates for that with the inclusion of a microSD slot on the top edge. HP has also opted for single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 to keep costs down.
We were initially impressed to see that HP has managed to include both a 0.3-megapixel front camera and a 3-megapixel rear camera, but neither works particularly well. The front camera captures smeary, heavily compressed, low-resolution images, and the rear camera struggles to produce decent snaps even in good light, with photos dogged by noise and severely lacking in detail.
Given the attractive hardware and the low price, we'll admit that HP's Slate 7 had us excited. Unfortunately, HP has had to cut too many corners to whittle the price down. With rival devices putting in a far more competent all-round performance, we'd advise you to look elsewhere.
|Price ex VAT||£108|
|Price inc VAT||£130|
|Features & Design||3|
|Value for Money||4|
|Dimensions||116 x 11 x 197mm (WDH)|
|Resolution screen horizontal||600|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,024|
|Display type||Multitouch, capacitive|
|CPU frequency, MHz||1.6GHz|
|Camera megapixel rating||3.0mp|
|Accessories supplied||AC power adapter, USB cable|
|Upstream USB ports||0|
|Mobile operating system||Android 4.1.1|