It was just last year when Steve Ballmer showed off the tablet that would become known as HP’s Slate 500 tablet PC. It was a massive change of direction from where Windows-based tablets had been in the past, and a clear sign of the coming tablet wave.
The Slate? That’s still around?
Sources within HP admitted that the company was unprepared for the surge of interest customers had for the Windows tablet; many felt like HP only produced the device in order to keep their promise to Microsoft. The available stock reflected this ambiguity, as the tablet was a bit hard to come by for the first several months.
Still, the enterprise interest in the Slate 500 was seen and heard loud and clear by the gang out in Palo Alto. Businesses like the idea of a sleek, lighter tablet, but they need something that supports their kind of lifestyle – for a large majority, an iPad or Android tablet would require massive reengineering of their workflows.
With so much business interest in the device, it became clear to HP that the market had legs. To that end, HP just unveiled a follow-up tablet to the world: the HP Slate 2.
At a glance, the device doesn’t look that much different from the original Slate 500. It has essentially the same dimensions, though this new model is three-hundredths of an inch thicker. It features the same 8.9-inch screen, offering users the WSVGA standard of 1024×600. It offers a capacitive multitouch response in addition to an N-trig digitizer, allowing for both finger and pen input.
The most notable physical change comes with the rear of the device. Instead of the stylish patterned back found on the Slate 500, the Slate 2 features a flat, matte back – it’s less attractive, but decidedly more business-y. An SD card slot sits on the left side of the device, with a dedicated keyboard button a few inches above.
It feels perfectly comfortable and sturdy in the hand. At only a pound and a half, the Slate 2 is not too heavy to hold, but single-handed use might get tiring after a while. The silver outer edge is a running theme in HP’s updated industrial design; many new desktops, monitors and notebooks follow a similar trend.
On top is a USB 2.0 port and a few more buttons, including home and volume controls. The right side has the power button and combination headphone/microphone jack (despite the combo jack, the Slate 2 has separate stereo speakers and a built-in microphone), while the bottom holds the two speakers and HP’s proprietary docking connector.
There are no video out options on the Slate 2 by itself, unfortunately. If you’re looking to use one to show off PowerPoint presentations or other content, you can set the Slate into HP’s new tablet dock, which does offer HDMI out.
Just above the screen on the left is a front-facing VGA webcam; it’s joined in the rear with a 3MP model. While these might seem a bit under-powered compared to alternative options, this is really a business device first and foremost, and those cameras are more than sufficient for web conferencing and video chat.
Inside, the hardware has been updated to take advantage of Intel’s latest-generation Atom processors. In this case, it’s a single-core Atom Z670 running at 1.5GHz. It does come with Intel’s HyperThreading technology, meaning it’ll appear as two logical (i.e., software, not hardware) cores to the operating system.
Two gigs of DDR2 SDRAM are nestled alongside the Z670, as well as up to 64GB of flash storage on an mSATA solid state module. The graphics load is handled by the Intel GMA 600, and wireless access is taken care of by 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 support.
The Slate 2 comes with an optional Gobi 3000 card, meaning you’ll be able to get 3G access wherever you go – both EV-DO and HSDPA are supported. There’s also a TPM chip (trusted platform module) embedded into every Slate, a relief for many security-focused IT departments.
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