That should give you an idea of what the hardware looks and feels like – how well does it work as an actual PC? The performance is acceptable, with a few significant reservations. HP will be shipping the Slate 2 with Windows 7. That might seem like a strange move, but Windows 8 will not be going to gold master status for several more months yet, and HP can’t wait that long to ship this update.
As a result, the operating system is less than finger friendly, though HP makes the standard tricks in order to make things like scrollbars easier to grab. One curious addition was the Swype keyboard favored by so many mobile users around the globe. Instead of typing out discrete letters, users can swipe a finger through all of the letters in a word, and the keyboard figures out what you mean and puts the right word in place.
It’s definitely easier to use than the default Windows 7 on-screen keyboard, but using Swype on an 8.9-inch screen isn’t great, either. That’s a lot of space to cover, and it’s not quite as fun as swiping back and forth over my smartphone screen.
There are a few starts and a bit of lag here and there when you use the Slate 2, but that’s not too surprising – it’s a full-on installation of Windows 7 running on a single-core Atom CPU. Despite that, it’s no deal breaker since the SSD goes a long way to making up for any noticeable CPU shortcomings.
In addition to the device itself, HP is introducing an HP Slate Digital Pen, an HP Slate Dock, a new carrying case with Bluetooth keyboard, and a new HP Retail Mobile Point-of-Sale Case. The digital pen takes advantage of the previously mentioned N-trig digitizer panel, and the response is comfortable enough to take notes in a meeting or mark up the latest plans.
The carrying case slots the Slate 2 into the top half, with the Bluetooth keyboard occupying the bottom half. It’s a useful device, but it makes the Slate 2 feel SO thick. Still, it’s enough to easily turn the tablet into a laptop or netbook if you really need it. And if you want to get video out of the device, the Slate Dock will be necessary.
The retail case is perhaps the most interesting, simply because it turns the Slate 2 into an overpowered scanner and magnetic card reader. Stores with these units would be able to take credit cards for payment, and use the wireless access to keep up with inventory changes.
In all, the Slate 2 is a fairly minor spec bump for HP’s Windows-based tablet. It makes a business-friendly device that much business-friendlier, and more than anything, it shows that HP is serious about competing in the tablet space… even as they’re shuttering all of their webOS operations..
The real question now is whether companies will shoot for the Slate 2 over Dell’s offering, the Latitude ST offering. Dell’s tablet runs similar hardware, but offers users a 10.1-inch display running at 1280×800 Gorilla Glass screen, all for just $50 more than the price of HP’s own.
Stay tuned for the full review of all of these devices, here on TabletPCReview.
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